How to Choose the Right Learning Management System: Nine Key Factors to Consider

Learning management systems (LMS) have become essential for businesses, whether they’re looking to onboard or train employees, educate customers, or just stay compliant with the latest industry regulations. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right learning solution for your organization.

This article delves into nine important considerations for choosing an LMS, including reporting, integration capabilities, content curation options, content authoring tools, user experience, custom branding, gamification, and AI features.

We hope that these LMS buying tips can help you make a well-informed decision about which learning solution best meets your organization’s training and business needs.

1. Reporting capabilities

Consider how your LMS’s reporting tools can help your team track learning progress, identify top performers, and make more data-driven decisions.

With the right reporting features, your LMS can help you optimize your training initiatives to meet the learning and business goals of your organization. That’s why it’s essential to choose an LMS that can help your team make data-driven decisions.

Leveraging reporting and analytics helps managers identify top-performing learners and reward their achievements. This can significantly improve morale and boost employee retention, which can reduce the costs of staff turnover. Likewise, identifying skills gaps through proper reporting can save your team time and resources by giving you the information you need to upskill or reskill employees before they fall too far behind.

Here are some of the main features you should look for in your LMS’s reporting features:

  • Customizable reports: Your LMS should allow you to create and customize reports according to your specific needs. This includes selecting the data fields, filters, and visualizations that are most relevant to your organization.
  • Real-time data: Your LMS should provide real-time access to data, allowing you to view up-to-date information on learner progress, course completion rates, and other relevant metrics.
  • Data visualization: The ability to present data in a visually appealing and easy-to-understand format is crucial for LMS admins. Your LMS reporting tool should offer a variety of chart types, graphs, and dashboards to help you analyze and interpret the data effectively.
  • Automated report generation: The LMS you choose should have the capability to automate report generation and delivery. This saves time and ensures that reports are consistently generated and distributed to the relevant stakeholders.
  • Drill-down capabilities: It’s important to be able to drill down into the data to gain deeper insights. Look for an LMS that allows you to explore your organization’s training data at different levels of granularity, such as by learner, course, or time period.
  • Export and sharing options: The reporting tool within your LMS should provide options to export reports in various formats (e.g., PDF, Excel) and allow for easy sharing with stakeholders, such as managers, instructors, or administrators.

2. Integrations, APIs, and Single Sign-On (SSO) Features

Look for integrations, APIs, and single sign-on (SSO) features that can help your organization consolidate operations and reduce manual effort.

A learning management system (LMS) can be the key to consolidating your training into a single, easily accessible platform.

For a more cohesive learning environment with an improved learner experience and a streamlined administrative process, opt for an LMS with robust integration options and single sign-on (SSO) capabilities. This can help create a more seamless learning experience across the enterprise by reducing the need for manual data entry, multiple sign-ins, or other context switching that can lead to confusion and unnecessary complexity.

If you’re looking for an LMS that fits well within your existing tech stack, look for APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and Connectors that can integrate your LMS with any HRIS (Human Resource Information Systems) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management), or any other popular business applications that your organization might use.

3. Pre-built content and content libraries

Find out whether your LMS offers access to a library of off-the-shelf training content. Pre-built courses can save time and provide high-quality, up-to-date training material for your organization – sometimes at no extra cost.

Depending on the types of training you need, off-the-shelf course modules can save your team time and effort, while still providing learners with high-quality content from subject matter experts (SMEs).

A well-stocked content library can provide many benefits for your organization. It can help you to:

  • Save time and money on content creation: Pre-built content can be used as-is or customized to meet your specific needs, saving you the time and expense of developing new learning content from scratch.
  • Improve consistency and quality of learning content: Pre-built content is often crafted by seasoned instructional designers and SMEs, which means it’s more likely to be accurate and up-to-date. This can be especially important for compliance training. See if you can find an LMS that offers pre-built compliance content that reflects the latest regulatory and legal changes relevant to your industry.
  • Keep abreast of the latest trends: Relevance is important for more than compliance training. Your LMS should offer a content library that’s regularly updated with new material, so that you can keep your teams trained in the latest developments and best practices within your industry.

When choosing an LMS with a content library, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The size and scope of the content library: Ensure the library is diverse and broad, to meet the diverse needs of your organization.
  • The quality of the content: Ensure the material is accurate, current, and engaging.
  • The cost of the content: Some LMSs offer training content at no extra cost to customers, while others charge a subscription fee. Be sure to factor the cost of the content into your decision.

4. Content authoring tools

Your LMS’s content authoring tool should be easy to use for everyone from novices to instructional design experts.

Being able to tailor your courses to the specific needs of your learners or organization is critical for many LMS users. The LMS you choose should allow your team to design and customize SCORM-compliant eLearning content seamlessly, with drag-and-drop multimedia components, intuitive editing capabilities, and a selection of pre-designed, customizable templates and themes.

Here are some of the features that you should look for in a content authoring tool:

  • Ease of use: The content authoring tool within your LMS should be user-friendly, offering drag and drop capabilities and an intuitive interface that caters to a broad range of technical expertise levels.
  • Multi-media support: An effective content authoring tool should support a variety of multi-media elements, such as images, videos, and audio files.
  • Customization capabilities: Look for an LMS content authoring tool that allows you to easily customize the branding or look and feel of your courses.
  • Pre-built customizable templates and themes: Using templates and themes can save time and effort when creating courses with a content authoring tool.

5. Intuitive interface and ease of use

The more usable your LMS is, the higher your training participation and completion rates will be. Make sure your LMS offers mobile access, offline learning, and accessibility features so that everyone in your organization can easily login and learn.

A critical consideration in the selection of an LMS is how easy it is for admins and learners to use.

If admins can’t easily use your LMS, training will become a point of friction that takes up valuable time and resources.

If employees struggle to use your LMS, none of the other features we’ve listed so far will matter. Lack of learner engagement means lackluster course completion metrics, which means you’ll have little to show for your investment in an LMS. In short, your leadership team likely won’t be impressed with an LMS that no one in the organization is using!

To avoid investing in a clunky, outdated, or unusable LMS, opt for a platform with an intuitive user interface, straightforward navigation, and search capabilities. Make sure that the LMS you choose offers offline learning functionality and is accessible across devices, to facilitate learning on-the-go.

Support learners with disabilities by ensuring that your LMS is equipped with accessibility features such as closed captioning, screen readers, and keyboard-only navigation.

Here are some specific things to look for when evaluating whether an LMS is easy to use:

  • Intuitive user interface: Your LMS should be easy to navigate, with a clear and consistent design.
  • Search functionality: Your LMS should feature robust functionality to facilitate the swift retrieval of necessary information.
  • Mobile access: Your LMS should be accessible across devices, enabling employees to learn on the move.
  • Offline access: Your LMS should offer learners the ability to access course modules offline.
  • Accessibility features: To meet the needs of learners with disabilities, make sure your LMS offers accessibility features that meet WCAG 2.1 or 2.2 standards. Features for accessibility include closed captioning capabilities and screen reader support.

6. Gamification features

Offering learners the opportunity to earn points, badges, or certificates – and to see others’ progress on a leaderboard – can encourage friendly competition and keep teams motivated to learn together.

Gamification has been a hot topic in L&D for a while now. It’s no surprise that gamification LMS features are a common requirement for anyone seeking a new learning platform. That’s because features that encourage social learning and competition have been shown to significantly boost learner motivation and engagement, with one study showing that gamification increases employee engagement by 48%.

The LMS that you choose should support gamification features that allow admins to award badges and certificates for course completions or benchmarks, as well as leaderboards that showcase high-performing learners and inspire others to excel.

Being able to award certificates is also an important consideration for any buyer interested in customer training. Certification for customer trainings can give external learners tangible evidence of their expertise in your product can foster pride and confidence that may translate into brand loyalty. And those who earn a customer training certificate may be more likely to share their accomplishment with their network, which can in turn attract even more customers to your company’s customer training.

7. Custom branding for training across the enterprise

If your organization wants to market online courses to an external audience, the eCommerce and branding features of an LMS can help you drive learning revenue.

If you want control over the visual representation of your external training, then branded dashboards and eCommerce storefronts are a must. When selecting an LMS for eCommerce, research whether you can connect to and customize popular storefronts like Shopify. Make sure you can incorporate your company logo, color scheme, and other imagery into your LMS instance. See whether your LMS offers the option to create multiple storefronts, if you plan to cater to distinct target audiences.

In addition to a customizable dashboard and storefront, make sure that your LMS offers secure checkout and complies with PCI standards to safeguard customers’ financial data.

8. Separate instances and tenants for external training

Extending your learning ecosystem to external stakeholders through separate LMS instances or tenants can lead to a better learner experience that drives revenue for your organization.

By providing external users with access to training in your LMS, you can continue to take advantage of the centralized nature of your learning platform, while providing unique learning experience for external users. This approach not only generates learning revenue for your organization, but also enhances the skills and expertise of partners, customers, or other external learners.

Distinct LMS instances or tenants should be customizable to ensure that external training is aligned with the unique needs and objectives of your audience(s). Your LMS should give admins the option to create customized learning paths for external users, assigning relevant courses, and tracking progress separately from your company’s internal users.

A secure learning environment is also important for maintaining the trust and confidence of your external users. Check on the data protocols and access controls of your prospective LMS to ensure that the tool complies with relevant data protection regulation, and that your admins can easily configure appropriate user permissions and restrict access to specific courses or content based on user roles.

9. AI training features for maximum efficiency

Leaders in L&D are increasingly adding AI to their toolkit crafting, launching, and optimizing learning programs more quickly and efficiently.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is swiftly transforming how organizations approach L&D.

To harness its power, LMS providers are increasingly offering AI capabilities. Ideally, AI features such as chatbots, machine learning analysis, and predictive analytics tools, can help lighten the administrative load on training administrators, facilitate the curation of relevant resources, and assist in the customization of learning experiences.

Applying AI in L&D to automate administrative tasks can free up L&D professionals to concentrate on more strategic initiatives, such as the development and delivery of learning programs that are aligned with their organization’s needs.

Litmos’ AI Assistant gives learners the power to surface key insights from their learning content, find course recommendations, and receive targeted course materials through and gives administrators actionable insights to fine-tune training efforts and track learner progress. Powered by Litmos’ proprietary AI infrastructure, customer data on the Learning AI Assistant is not shared outside the customer’s tenant, allowing for secure content uploading.

There are many more potential applications of AI in training and employee development than the ones we’ve listed here. As AI progresses, there will no doubt be even more innovative and pioneering uses for AI in L&D.

Considerations for finding the right learning solution

With so many options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to determine which LMS is best suited for your organization’s specific needs.

To help you make an informed decision, consider who your learning audience is, the types of content you want to deliver, the size and structure of your organization, the level of customization and flexibility required, as well as your organization’s budget and technical requirements. Ultimately, the right LMS will not only meet your organization’s current learning needs, but also have the potential to adapt and grow with your organization’s evolving needs.

Not every LMS is created equal. Discover why over 4,000 companies and 30 million users rely on Litmos as their all-in-one learning solution. Start your free trial today!