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5 Telltale Signs You Might Need an LMS

I was thinking back to my HR days at a nonprofit organization and how in the world we handled training and compliance for our staff prior to having an LMS. I remember wanting to pull my hair out trying to keep track of all of the training certificates from our many off-site locations. I was trying to manage it all in Excel, but I ran into problems getting managers to collect the training certificates from their employees and submit them to me on time. When I did receive them, there were always a few that were left blank, with either no name, event title, or date. It was truly a nightmare. Keeping track of training alone was like a full time job, not to mention the daily activities of my actual job!

So if you’re a busy HR or training professional, or even a CEO at a small nonprofit having to do it all – here are some telltale signs that you might benefit from having an LMS! Read on, my friends…


Sign #1: You have no idea what an LMS is

First things first. You’ve heard those three little letters thrown around before but you just don’t have the time – and maybe not even the interest – to start looking into what the heck it is. LMS stands for Learning Management System. According to Wikipedia, an LMS is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of electronic educational technology (also called e-learning) courses or training programs. Essentially, it’s an online system that delivers and tracks training – and then some.

Now that you’re familiar with what an LMS is, let’s move on…


Sign #2: You’re still tracking your training in Excel, or worse, on paper

Are you doing what I did? Not pulling your hair out, (although you may be doing that, too!) but tracking hard copies of training certificates in Excel spreadsheets and employee files? Chances are, you’re missing a few – which could lead to headaches down the road for you (during your audit or survey, affecting your compliance rates) and for your staff members (who are trying to maintain their licensure). With an LMS, all of the training is tracked instantaneously and easily within the system itself.


Sign #3: You spend more time arranging training than your staff does taking it

I remember spending so much time organizing and scheduling CPR, First Aid and HIPAA classes for staff; then making other arrangements for those who couldn’t make it to the one I initially arranged; then keeping track of those who attended the classes, who received First Aid cards, who didn’t, who still needs to attend, and when I should start planning the next series of trainings. I even helped set up the rooms and greeted the trainers when they arrived. With an LMS, you can assign your entire staff any training you’d like with the click of a few buttons – even on a recurring basis. This not only saves you time; it also saves your staff time since they can take the training anywhere, at any time. Sure, there are some trainings, like CPR, that must be done live. But although the actual class is live, it can still be assigned and attendance can be tracked electronically. Another benefit of an LMS is that you won’t have to worry about constantly reminding your staff about training. Instead, you can schedule and send automated reminder emails.


Sign #4: Your organization is spending a lot in overtime hours for staff to make up missed training

How many people do you know who dislike saving money? That’s what I figured. Because our staff worked at varied locations, it was nearly impossible to get every staff member to attend every training. But when they couldn’t, we had to pay overtime hours so they could attend another session outside of regular hours. Those overtime hours add up quickly; and especially for nonprofit organizations, funding isn’t always easy to come by. Budgets are always spread way too thin. Using an LMS significantly reduces costs in this aspect, helping organizations save overtime costs by enabling staff to conveniently log onto the system 24/7 to complete their training online.


Sign #5: You run for cover when audit time is near

Your boss walks in. Surprise! Your largest funder is doing an audit. You have little, if any, time to prepare. What do you do? Hide! Of course, you can’t do that. No, you have to roll up your sleeves and face the music. Audits can be crippling to a nonprofit organization’s ability to continue providing much-needed services to communities. One major ding on an audit or survey could mean the end of future funding! One of the biggest benefits of an LMS is that it enables you to be audit ready. So let’s re-play the scenario:

Your boss walks in. Surprise! Your largest funder is doing an audit. You have little, if any, time to prepare. But you breathe a deep sigh of relief knowing that your organization is the owner of an LMS. In just a few clicks (literally just a few), you pull up a transcript report that shows your entire organization’s training metrics and compliance rates. You print it. Your auditors love you. Your boss loves you. And you’re finished!


Clearly, there are many benefits to using an LMS. What do you think? Could you relate to each of the telltale signs? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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