The Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an LMS (Part 2)

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In Part 1 of this article, we started discussing some common mistakes that you can avoid when you choose your next LMS – click here to read that article if you missed it. Part 1 contains common mistakes 1 thru 4. In this post we pick up where we left off at #5 and continue to #8.

5) Paying for logins when learners aren’t logging in

I’ve seen a variety of different pricing models, especially with subscription-based, cloud LMS. The most common model seems to be on a per account basis i.e. if 10,000 learners have an account, you pay for 10,000 learners every month.

However, there are some more flexible pricing options appearing. One example that I heavily favour is paying for usage only. So whilst you might have 10,000 learners registered with an account, if only 2,000 of those learners log in during a month, you would only pay for those learners who logged in. I prefer this model for a couple of reasons:

  1. You are only paying for what you use – what if some people only need to take one course per year? Why should you pay for them during the other 11 months?
  2. It encourages the LMS vendor to actively help you increase usage – if the LMS vendor is incentivised to increase usage, their support will improve to help you increase usage.

One more point. Whilst these pricing models appear to be set in stone, it’s always worth querying this with a vendor. If the pricing model is a deal breaker, they may well give you a customised pricing model in order to secure your business.

Definitely worth asking the question!

6) Checking only that it can do something, not how 

On your LMS wish list, you probably have a series of requirements. When talking to the vendors, you may be ticking off each of the features as they talk about the functionality of the software.

But simply knowing that an LMS ‘has’ the functionality you require is not enough. You need to know how that functionality works.

An example I remember from a previous client was custom reporting. We knew the LMS could generate custom reports, but in order to confidently use this feature you needed a degree in computer programming! Best advice is to ask for a quick demo for each item on your specification.

There is more than one way to skin a cat – make sure you check how you will be ‘cat-skinning’ once the software is in place.

7) Active user community for support

A good sign for a healthy LMS is an active user group. Sometimes these will be hosted by the LMS vendors themselves, but often there will be independent groups (LinkedIn Groups would be a great place to start your search) where you can find excellent information about user’s opinions of the LMS.

Participating in these types of user groups provides an excellent method of research before you buy an LMS, but also provides key support once the LMS is in place. You can learn so much from other LMS users – tactics for how to increase engagement, tips on how to get the best out of the platform, suggestions for workarounds if a feature is missing.

Check with the LMS vendor if these types of user groups/communities exist for their platform and if not, I would note that as a red flag.

8) Underestimating time for setup and launch 

Many LMS vendors will offer a ‘free trial’ or ‘get started within minutes with our simple setup’.

Don’t be deceived.

Whilst in theory, most LMS are ready to go, you will have to do some preparatory work to get the LMS primed. content uploaded and optimised, and functionality such as reporting activated.

This goes back to point 6), but ask for a demo – if it really is ‘ready in minutes’, the vendor won’t mind showing you this in a live webinar.


This list is definitely not exhaustive, if you are about to choose an LMS, you are bound to make some mistakes. But minimizing the risk following some of these simple tips will help.