7 Reasons the Death of the Custom LMS Will Never Happen
Several years ago we hired a highly respected IT analysis firm to help us shape our messaging and to review our company growth and the development roadmap for our LMS. To be fair they were a great help but there was one piece of advice that they gave us that we rejected outright. It was that we should drop the ‘custom thing’. Didn’t we know that custom software development, in general, was dead? Custom-developed applications are high cost, slow to get to market, and have ROI challenges that don’t hold up to “out-of-the-box” solutions. Everybody knew this. Right?
Actually… maybe not, at least not in the case of the LMS.
While KMI Learning does offer an out-of-the-box LMS that many of our smaller customers use, we believe that a custom LMS plays a vital role in eLearning efforts. Here’s why:
Partnership: This is an overused word. How many emails have you received in the last week from some vendor asking to be your partner? I get at least 5 or 6 per week. We get to know our clients better and work closely with them to realize their training and reporting goals. Our typical customer gets to work closely with us: we care about what you’re up to. We make it a point to become very well-acquainted with your business, your training, and your learning needs, and we provide ongoing consultations to serve your needs as you change and grow. Partnership means that we make sure we can do more to help you realize your interests. In a very real sense, we don’t win unless and until you, our customer wins. A custom LMS means that you, as a customer, are never marooned on any proverbial island once you’ve purchased our product.
Branding / Message: You’ve created the look and feel of your company. You’ve worked hard to tailor your message for your people. The last thing you need – or want – is for your branding and message to become diluted or lost in the look and feel of an off-the-shelf LMS. We work with your domains, style guide(s), etc. so there’s no confusion of styles, no co-branding, and no loss of your carefully cultivated identity. A custom LMS means that your look and feel is always on point. Who you are as an organization is extended through your LMS, via the content of the modules.
Custom Workflows: Most platforms will force you to fit into their workflows, and (to borrow from the Star Trek Universe) resistance is [typically] futile. A custom LMS, allows us to tweak workflows and front-end interfaces. We’re also able to create brand new features, specific to our customers’ needs.
Integration: It’s true that lots of LMS companies have APIs, but you have to use them as they are and by their rules. So we’re back to the Star Trek Universe and the world of futile resistances. But what if they don’t have what you want? What if they can’t handle data in a way your IT staff prefers? And if you have multiple systems that need to be carefully coordinated, what then? Not to be too simplistic, but the answer to all the above questions is (you guessed it!) custom LMS.
Data Ownership, Privacy and Security: We intentionally and committedly steer clear of multi-tenant systems to protect our customers’ ownership and privacy. The reason is simple and elegant: your data is yours. And we are committed that you always own your databases and the information contained within. In fact, we go so far as to provide you with your own virtual machine and even your own hardware, if the need arises. Data and information security is a modern-day phenomenon that cannot be ignored. We verge on the militant when it comes to protecting the security of our customers’ data security. And we’re unapologetic about it.
Continuous Improvement: In many ways, a custom LMS is more organism than organization: it must grow and adapt to dynamic environments and varying stimuli. A thriving LMS evolves according to the demands of your organization’s life. And that is precisely what we do. A surprising bonus to this approach? Many of the customizations requested by our clients are absorbed into our core product. In such a rare synergistic setting, everyone wins.
Stability: Although seemingly at odds with the previous point, stability is a key ingredient in our custom LMS. Typically, off-the-shelf platforms force their clients into changing with their updates and upgrades, especially since some features get retired or left unsupported. While our LMS does grow and evolve to meet new challenges, wants and needs, customized features are never removed. Code is always supported, and features are never removed nor altered dramatically without your consent.
In a world where ‘one-size-fits-all’ is all too prevalent, a custom LMS stands out for all the reasons we detailed above, and more. At the end of the day, isn’t it nice to know that you get to choose how you want your LMS to serve your needs?