In 2012, a potential new client came to our KMI Learning team looking for an effective custom LMS solution to their problem. Let’s call them LL. LL provided training and certification for volunteer tax preparers all around the country, but their existing learning management system (LMS) wasn’t quite hitting the mark. To foster growth and provide better service, LL needed to accommodate 10,000 simultaneous users, especially during the prime tax season months of February through April.

They needed to incorporate certification capabilities and have a historical and archival component that would stand up to legal standards. Additionally, they needed to include both random and specifically sequenced questions in order to meet certification requirements.

Problems like these are exactly when a custom online course platform comes into play. With KMI as a partner, LL was able to tackle all of these technical and programmatic issues. They are still a client for the past 11 years now and they value their partnership with KMI. In fact, by 2020, the number of their end users had grown to 120,000 learners each tax season.

This is just one example of a business that benefitted from a custom LMS versus an off-the-shelf option. However, not every company requires the same level of customization.

So, how do you know if you need a custom LMS versus an off-the-shelf system to provide the best learning experience possible for your own clients? It starts with understanding the features you need to deploy now, as well as the features and assets that may be valuable in the years ahead as your business reaches new levels of 0

The first step is understanding the key differences between a custom LMS and an off-the-shelf LMS.

Off-the-shelf LMS

An off-the-shelf LMS is a set package that can be moderately customized to be branded as your product. It can offer a number of features, including interactive elements, versatile displays, and design options. Additionally, it can generally be relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to implement as long as you don’t need any features outside the product’s basic options.

Custom LMS

A custom LMS is software created and developed by a company but sold or delivered to end users as another company’s product. Since custom LMS has a much deeper ability to customize on all fronts – from back-end security and user volume to the overall design – it’s a more individualized solution for providing learning management systems.

Custom LMS providers like KMI rely on customer input and constant communications to deliver a product to precise specifications. Therefore, because the customizations or features vary, the price is flexible, which means it can be suited to any budget.

How Do I Know if I Need a Custom LMS Instead of an Off-the-shelf LMS?

The best way to see if your company – and your end users – will benefit from a custom LMS is to start a conversation with our KMI team. We’re happy to listen to your current needs and long-term ambitions and help determine if our powerhouse custom LMS application is right for you.

In the meantime, however, here are a few clear signs that a custom LMS may be your best option.

You Want 100% Control Over Your Design Vision

Generally speaking, cookie-cutter LMS technology requires users to upload their content into pre-designed templates or build courses within guidelines that are set by the limitations of the software. If you have a concrete vision of your LMS product’s look, design, and white-label branding, then a custom LMS is your best bet to get the exact aesthetic you require.

Security, Compliance, and Legal Requirements Play a Role

Suppose you are dealing with potentially sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) or need to ensure certain legal, or compliance regulations are met (like in the example above). In that case, a custom LMS is a better, safer option.

You Work with Different Payment Methods

In order to monetize effectively, especially as you see future growth, you need an LMS that is e-commerce capable and can handle multiple currencies, payment options, and billing models (such as a one-time-use payment versus a subscription for continuing education.) A custom LMS like KMI’s can handle these payment variations, while an off-the-shelf LMS may be limited in how end users pay for and use your product.

You Expect to Grow and Expand.

An off-the-shelf LMS may work for your present needs, but what about in the future? Chances are that you want the ability to accommodate a steady influx of end users in the months and years ahead. Therefore, you can adapt your LMS programs and courses with more partners, clients, and purposes. With an off-the-shelf LMS, most of your products will likely look the same, regardless of the end purpose. To stay relevant and attract new business, the trickle-down customization of a custom LMS allows you to connect with more potential clients and meet their evolving needs.

You Want to Minimize Technical Issues

Your end users are accessing your LMS via a wide array of platforms, from desktops to mobile phones. Furthermore, you need to ensure that your product is optimized for every screen size and internet-connected device. A custom LMS is designed to be mobile ready and easy to use, which in turn leads to fewer technical issues or customer support calls.

You Need Great Engagement and Results & You Need to Prove It

Your LMS is only as successful as the information your end users retain. For this reason, you need to ensure your product is engaging throughout, and you need to be able to track their success. A custom LMS offers exceptional reporting tools via simple administration. In addition, you can highlight how effective your LMS product is to your clients – a strategic and essential move that is directly correlated to client retention.

Start Using Custom LMS to Create a Seamless Learning Experience

With over 20 years of building and constantly refining our Custom LMS, we understand that no two businesses are alike. Especially when it comes to the customizations and requirements, they need to provide their end users with the best product and service possible.

At KMI, we are obsessed with customer service, and our job is to listen to your end goals and find ways to propel your business to the next levels of success.

With KMI as your partner, you can provide a learning experience that evolves, grows, and connects with your company’s brand and adherence to outstanding eLearning opportunities.

Reach out to us today to get the conversation started.