A learning management system, or LMS, is a software application that allows training professionals within a company to manage their training program from one centralized environment. With an LMS, you can house, deliver, and track all your company training content, so you can easily manage employee education while focusing on strategic goals such as performance metrics and business outcomes.

There are a variety of learning management systems available, depending on your company size and training needs, but all LMSs enable a more modern approach to learning, allowing for greater scalability, flexibility, and mobility across the learning program.

Continue reading for an in-depth look at how a learning management system can improve your company’s enterprise learning, why you might need one, and key LMS features you should keep an eye out for.

What is an LMS? How Does it Work?

Learning management systems today are largely cloud-based. A good LMS will unify virtual, in-person, mobile, and social learning, rolling them up into one convenient solution. Together, corporate training departments, HR teams, safety and compliance managers, and other stakeholders can collaborate, author, distribute, and track training courses for your entire company.

Learning management systems are vital for any company, big or small. Whether you’re deploying learning materials for a small start-up or helping employee education for a global enterprise of thousands of employees, an LMS is great for automating previously burdensome tasks so you can focus on aligning training with your company’s strategy.

Consider, for example, that your company is about to launch a new product. Or maybe you have a new internal process you need your employees to become familiar with. A learning management system can help you develop slides, videos, quizzes, and more for your teams to access from their individual LMS accounts.

More advanced LMSs go above and beyond to increase engagement and information retention with features like gamification, video assessments, and interactive, hotspot training.

What are the Benefits of a Learning Management System?

A well-oiled LMS can be a boon to any organization looking to improve its internal education program:

  • A learning management system gives a company a centralized place to store and organize its learning materials, which can be then edited and deployed from a single location.
  • Courses can be built completely online, with a variety of different creation tools that support multiple formats, from text to images, videos, quizzes, and more.
  • Education provided through an LMS is consistent due to its centralization. All materials coming out of a learning management system are of the same quality because they’re from the same source.
  • An LMS can also reduce learning and development costs by cutting extraneous forms of training like in-person seminars or training days.
  • Employees’ educational progress can be easily tracked, allowing you to review performance and gain insights through various reports and dashboards.
  • LMSs can automate tasks that would otherwise take time out of administrators’ days, like group enrollment and task assignments.
  • Cloud-based learning management systems can be accessed from anywhere on mobile devices, meaning members of an organization can continue their learning materials no matter where they are and at their own pace.
  • A learning management system can allow you to deploy notifications to your organization to drive higher course completion rates.
  • Personalized learning paths can help training professionals tailor materials to specific individuals, which is great for organization members with overlapping roles.
  • Some LMSs have gamification features that allow you to award achievements, points, leader board status, and badges to learners for participation and completion.

Types of Learning Management Systems

There are several different types of LMSs: cloud-based LMSs, desktop LMSs, and mobile LMSs.

  • Cloud-based Learning Management Systems

    These types of LMSs are hosted in the cloud, as their name implies. Cloud learning management systems have the advantage of being accessible from anywhere.

  • Desktop-based Learning Management Systems

    Desktop-based LMS solutions require a user to download specific software to their computer.

  • Mobile-based Learning Management Systems

    Finally, mobile LMSs require users to download an application to their mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet.

Learning Management System Use Cases

So, what is a learning management system used for? There are several use cases for LMSs depending on the organization:

  • Internal training is the most obvious LMS use case. You can create, deploy, and track all your educational materials from one centralized spot to help your organization’s employees learn a new internal process or just stay up to date on compliance or professional and personal development.
  • An LMS can be used for training external partners of an organization, like resellers or agencies, on brand or product guidelines, or for customer training.
  • Learning management systems can be used for customer training. An LMS’s gamification features can help your organization launch a loyalty rewards program to have customers earn bonuses when they complete specific training courses. Some companies may even profit from customer training by charging for courses.
  • Employee onboarding is another great use case for learning management systems. An effective LMS will make it easy on new employees and those putting together the materials.
  • Schools and other organizations in the realm of academia can benefit from a learning management system. Thanks to a cloud-based LMS’s flexibility, students can learn at their own pace and take courses whenever they like.
  • Gig workers, like those employed through apps or online companies, can receive remote training through an organization’s learning management system.

Learn more about content management systems (CMS) vs. learning management systems (LMS)

As eLearning becomes more popular, training departments may find themselves considering the differences between a content management system vs learning management system. Both of these systems are progressive and provide ways to manage various aspects of eLearning courses. The differences between the two are significant and should be considered before finalizing a purchase of either system.

What is a Content Management System?

A content management system (CMS) is simply an application that allows a method for managing content from a central location. Users with appropriate permissions can edit, add, and view content, while those with lower level access can only view the content. These systems are very helpful with managing versions of a document and centralizing all aspects of something in one place. Everyone can relate to a time when multiple users made changes to a document only to find out after publication that at least one version of changes didn’t make it through to the final version. A content management system helps prevent those issues so that everything is transparent (including who made changes) and stored in one place.

What is a Learning Management System?

A learning management system (LMS) is another type of software application, but it is much more robust than a content management system. Rather than version control, an LMS is more of a training control system. An LMS provides a platform for housing all types of eLearning courses, as well as tracking who has completed them, when, and what kind of score they received on assessments. Furthermore, an LMS allows administrators or trainers to prepare reports, make assignments, and send reminders all in one central location.

Differences Between CMS vs LMS

While both applications have their place in an organization, the differences between a content management system vs learning management system are significant in their core functionality. For students or learners, a CMS is more of a passive application where they can simply view documents. With an LMS, learners have the ability to view, listen, and interact with the data. They have the options to try examples, complete assessments, and give evaluation or feedback on courses. Litmos has a free trial where you can test the features of an LMS for yourself. Give it a try and experience the difference between a content management system vs learning management system firsthand.

Are You Ready to See What All the Hype is About?

If you’re ready to learn more about what a learning management system can do for your organization, check out Litmos. This award-winning LMS platform is easy to use but powerful and super scalable, empowering training professionals with everything they need to manage their training programs from one secure, centralized environment. Plus, it comes packaged with an API that lets you seamlessly integrate it with your existing systems.

Have a particular need? Discover what Litmos can do for you based on specific needs or industry, whether you’re in automotive, energy, finance, education, retail, tech, or something else!