The Small Business Guide to Learning Management Systems

/ 13 min read
Scott Winstead

Many businesses use a learning management system (LMS) to help streamline their processes and workflows. And the field is only growing: recent research states that 73% of respondents claim that their LMS usage has risen during the last two years, likely because of the rise in task automation.

Learning management systems can be a helpful tool for almost any business. But in order to get started with an LMS, you’ll need to understand what they are, what they do, and how they can help your business. We can help with that.

What is a learning management system?

A learning management system is a software-based platform specifically designed to facilitate administration, automation, and delivery of training programs. An LMS gives you a streamlined, repeatable way to train and onboard new employees, and handle other administrative tasks for your employees and customers.

Unlike file sharing services, your LMS isn’t just a bunch of documents and to-do lists. Instead, it is a complete learning technology solution that can let you build courses, track learner progress, and streamline employee training and onboarding processes, all from one place.

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A modern LMS needs to have a learner-centric design that aids in formalising an organisation’s training and development activities, thereby improving efficiency and workplace productivity.

It's important to choose an LMS tool that suits the size of your operation and that aligns with your organisation's needs and goals. Each LMS system has different pricing options, so you can be sure to find one that fits your budget.

In its simplest form, an LMS must consist of two primary elements:

  1. An intuitive user interface that can be operated by administrators, instructors, instructional designers, and anyone else who may need it.
  2. A server that enables administrators to upload learning resources, deliver lessons, make announcements, and share data with authorised users.

In order to keep everything secure, most learning management systems assign users credentials to access the data, and allow only administrators to evaluate progress and make amendments. But your LMS needs to be more than functional and secure—here are some other key features to keep an eye out for.

  • Course and catalogue management
  • Task automation
  • Progress tracking
  • Mobile learning
  • Personalised learning experiences
  • Gamification
  • Content integration and interoperability
  • Social learning

5 big reasons your small business needs an LMS

Most large corporations use learning management systems to onboard new employees, complete online training, and keep everyone on the same page. But especially as remote learning and AI usage increases, even small businesses can benefit from using high-performing learning management systems.

Whether it’s to streamline your human resources processes or make firm processes for new employees, LMS tools can help you run your business in several ways. And with plenty of pricing plans to choose from, there's an option for every budget. Here are five key reasons you may consider using an LMS.

1.    Make your human resources team more efficient

When you’re operating on a small scale, budget constraints make it difficult to hire HR specialists to carry out staffing activities. Managing manual training records and conducting in-person orientations is tedious, and can take up a huge chunk of the HR team’s time.

Implementing an LMS can drastically reduce staffing costs. Plus, once your HR team prepares a digital training program for new employees, they can use it to onboard several new people, freeing up their time for any individual and specific needs that might come up in the hiring process.

2.    Improve new employee onboarding

Employee training is one of the most time-consuming and important processes for any small business, from ecommerce to delivery services. This is why devising an effective corporate learning plan with comprehensive (and easy to use) elearning courses is essential. A great LMS platform can help you meet your training needs, create engaging, adaptive modules, and track learner progress.

Your onboarding process can set the tone of your company, so having one that is smooth, easy to understand, and efficient is important. Your LMS can help organise and distribute video presentations, documents, handbooks, or any other training materials they might need, all from one place.

3.    Take advantage of centralised data storage

A great LMS is like a one-stop solution for employees. All relevant information is stored in one place, and can be shared and accessed with a few clicks. This makes workflows easier and more efficient, and saves time and resources by preventing employees from searching through loads of files to find what training materials they’re looking for.

💡 Tip: Be sure to check your LMS storage regularly to update lessons and keep unecesary clutter at bay.

4.    Ensure your team is complying with laws and regulations

Non-compliance can tarnish your brand’s reputation and lead to legal and financial hurdles. This can cause financial and public relations issues for your small business.

A great LMS can regulate the process to train your employees on how to comply with your country’s specific laws and regulations. Having everyone on the same page can help you stop any legal problems before you have them.

Learning management systems make it easier to update content when needed, so no one misses out on any important changes. Employees can also refer back to the regulations anytime to refresh their knowledge.

5.    Assist your customers

The rationale behind customer training through LMS is to build brand awareness and provide educational content on how to use the product or service. Once you have identified your customer support touch points, you can easily map out the needs of your target audience. Some touch points may include:

  • Technical support
  • Account support
  • Strategic support
  • Payment process
  • User support
  • Refund/exchange support

LMS customer training incorporates a blended learning experience for all customers, and can give your customers a streamlined way to problem solve or get the answers they need, without having to reach out to customer support.

8 Best Learning Management Systems for Small Businesses

There are loads of LMS solutions out there, and no right or wrong answer. In truth, the best LMS is the one that works for your business. Here are a handful of great providers to get your wheels rolling, so you can find the best learning platform and LMS software for you.

1.TalentLMS

Homepage for TalentLMS, woman in yellow shirt over geometric background(Image source: TalentLMS)

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Starter: $59/month
  • Basic: $129/month
  • Plus: $249/month
  • Premium: $429/month

70,000+ organisations spread over 124 countries use TalentLMS to offer training to their employees and external stakeholders. The software has five different plans that scale with your business.

In addition to its user-friendly user interface, TalentLMS is known to have secure data communications and servers that allow for robust workflows. Moreover, it supports multiple languages, and offers a mobile app that’s compatible with both iOS and Android.

Key features:

  • Intuitive interface: TalentLMS is designed with configuration that can support content interoperability. This includes SCORM, notifications and video conferencing. You can take advantage of 200 service integrations, and even add your own CSS or Java.
  • Complete suite of LMS tools: This software enables creating, selling and tracking all online training courses. It includes all necessary features that are required to ensure HR goals are being met, like in-portal communications, organisation of files, reporting analytics and mass automation.
  • Course implementation: TalentLMS breaks down the learning process into different stages, making it easier to digest. Additionally, it uses an assessment engine that supports multiple test types, so you can improve retention by tailoring your online courses to the people taking them.

2. iSpring Learn LMS

Homepage for iSpring Learn LMS(Image source: iSpring Learn LMS)

Pricing:

  • 100 users: $2.71 /learner per month
  • 300 users: $2.22 /learner per month
  • 500 users: $2.09 /learner per month

iSpring Learn LMS is a cloud-based learning management system that supports on-premise deployments, targeted towards corporate training. If you're looking to avoid open-source programs like Moodle or sap litmos, it might be a good option for you. The system works great on mobile devices, so you can access and complete your LMS from anywhere.

iSpring allows you to customise your LMS based on the specific needs of your pension. Whether it's retaining existing employees or providing training to external groups, this software offers plenty of add-ons and customisation options.

Key features:

  • Easy to use interface: Creating simulations and delivering lessons is pretty easy in the simple user interface. You can also make use of webinars, gamification and advanced reporting analytics.
  • Data security: iSpring’s LMS has automatic backups and stores information in many data centres to safeguard the privacy of your organisation.
  • Quick technical support: Technical glitches, bugs and server related issues often hinder the workflow and lead to loss of productivity. iSpring LMS support engineers are readily available to resolve your queries.

3. Coassemble

Homepage for Coassemble(Image source: Coassemble)

Pricing:

  • Starter: $49/month
  • Pro: $499/month
  • Premium: custom pricing

Previously called eCoach, Coassemble is another staff training platform providing state-of-the-art learning solutions.

Coassemble stands out because of its individual approach: organisations can devise their own training programs, and simultaneously view the training progress of each employee. This eliminates the need to have a third-party software, boosting efficiency and saving you money.

Coassemble is famous for its authoring tools and LMBs which makes the platform very easy to use, so even employees who don’t have a technical background will be able to complete training.

As a cherry on top, Coassemble offers readymade and customisable templates, and allows active users to complete courses on mobile devices. And when it comes to reporting analytics, Coassemble provides detailed insights on completion rate, enrollments, onboarding and attendance.

Key features:

  • Third-party integrations: Take user learning experience to the next level with SalesForce, Gmail or Slack. All these third party software integrations allow you to automate tasks.
  • Content authoring: Even though Coassemble provides advanced options, its initial purpose was to promote a user-friendly content authoring application. This includes creating white board animation training content, simulation exercises, interactive quizzes, and more.
  • Compliant with SCORM: This means you can export your existing learning modules to third-party solutions whenever you want. Or, you could also import LTI files to transfer any learning resources into Coassemble.

4. Docebo

Homepage for Docebo(Image source: Docebo)

Pricing:

  • Custom pricing

Docebo is all about redefining the way organisations use technology to leverage their operations and deliver training. The system operates under the “Docebo Learning Suite”.

Designed for informal and formal learning, Docebo is a SaaS LMS that aims to instill the culture of proactive learning and personalised coaching for small to medium enterprises. It is optimised for mobile devices and allows managers to evaluate progress through effective performance tracking functions.

Key features:

  • Ample storage: Docebo has no limits on the storage space and you can preserve as many courses as you want in its system.
  • Innovative integrations: To make the staff training process more personal and engaging, Docebo has come up with integrations such as SSO, SF.com, and Webex. This will improve employees' learning experiences—especially if they are integrated with CRM tools, social media or other conferencing software.
  • Highly customisable: Brands can easily customise their learning portal with streamlined gamifications and course implementations, easy navigation and various integrations.

5. Blackboard

Homepage for Blackboard, people smiling(Image source: Blackboard)

Pricing:

  • Custom pricing

Equipped with scalable and comprehensive training tools, Blackboard is an intuitive platform for all types of businesses. It provides convenience through reporting tools, quick registration and mass-notification solutions. Like Docebo, Blackboard is an all in one training suite.

Key features:

  • Specialised collaboration tools: The impressions made and rapport built during face-to-face interactions is unmatched, but Blackboard’s conferencing and collaboration tools make collaborating a breeze.
  • Technical services: Blackboard offers hands-on training and technical services, so implementing changes during course creation or adding new tools is faster and easier.
  • All-in-one business training suite: Blackboard hosts all its services in one place, so whether it's employee onboarding, communication, compliance or certifications, you can make sure to stay on top of your game by staying organised with its all in one training suite.

6. SkyPrep

Homepage for SkyPrep, graphs on blue background(Image source: SkyPrep)

Pricing:

  • Custom pricing

SkyPrep is a popular and award-winning LMS, likely because of its ease of use and excellent customer support system, which makes training employees, customers, or business partners simple for both small and large organisations.

SkyPrep has an easy to use interface, and uses a cloud-based technology which makes it simple to provide, monitor, and track training. You can also download courses to complete offline, or sell courses you create.

Key Features:

  • Powerful integrations: SkyPrep features an open API so users can easily and securely integrate with apps or services, like Open Sesame, PayPal or Stripe, Zoom, and social media platforms.
  • SCORM compliant: Users can efficiently share their content and import other content from other learning management solutions.
  • Gamification: Optimise your team's learning experience by using game-based learning to make training more interesting and engaging.

7. ProProfs

Homepage for ProProfs, image of desk(Image source: ProProfs)

Pricing:

  • Essentials: $1 /learner per month
  • Premium: $2 /learner per month
  • Business+: $4 /learner per month

ProProfs markets itself as the “world’s easiest LMS,” and with over 10,000 courses and tests already made to choose from, this Cloud-based LMS lives up to the hype. It helps organisations provide corporate training programs like sexual harassment training, workplace wellness, HR, and compliance.

The platform itself is sleek, and straightforward, and the workplace training software bundle offers a variety of tools like a quiz-creation tool, surveys, collaborative capabilities, and sophisticated reporting. ProProfs also provides both before and after training to help make your organisation’s training experience more comprehensive.

Key Features:

  • Quality Learner Experience: ProProfs provides a high-quality learning environment with a variety of learning support tools. You can train your staff in more than 70 languages, allow self-paced learning, set reminders, and more.
  • Performance tracking: Organisers can track their employees’ learning with its advanced IP tracking features, generate individual or group reports, and email learning reports and completion certificates to learners.
  • Data security: ProProfs is GDPR compliant, which means all the private data and details are well protected. Its security system also allows your organisation to get complete ownership of data relevant to learning activities.

8. Tovuti

Homepage for Tovuti, browser screenshots on white background(Image source: Tovuti)

Pricing:

  • 0-50 users: $700/month
  • 50-250 users: $850/month
  • 250-500 users: $1,200/month

This “next-generation” learning management software offers its users a variety of online learning methods. From microlearning to mobile, virtual, traditional, and hybrid learning, Tovuti gives you loads of options.

Businesses can create their own courses, or purchase one of the various standard courses in its library. You can also track your employees’ progress via its built-in “track and report” feature. This makes it easy for you to know where employees are struggling, and find ways to help. Tovuti also offers badges and certifications on competition which can help motivate your employees to succeed.

Key features:

  • Custom labelling: Tovuti makes it possible for businesses to make their LMS experience in line with their brand. Businesses can change logos, themes and even the URL.
  • Interactive gamification: Businesses can create games within their courses, award badges, have leaderboard competitions, and more.
  • Various integrations: Tovuti is an open API system that offers signal sign on capabilities (SAML and OAuth 2.0). It also has a Zapier integration to make communications fast and effective.

Over to you

As your small business grows, you may find yourself needing a way to train employees and manage daily affairs. While more common in larger enterprises, a great learning management system can be a huge asset for smaller businesses.

There’s no right or wrong learning management system. The LMS that suits your needs best is the one you should go with. Whether you need a simple platform with basic integrations, or a highly customisable one with advanced security options, there’s an LMS out there for you.

This was a guest post by Scott Winstead, instructional designer, elearning evangelist and founder of  MyeLearningWorld, a blog all about eLearning, with the goal to understand where today’s learning is headed and help others keep up with the changes.


About the author
Scott Winstead
Scott Winstead is the founder of My eLearning World, where he has covered online learning, remote work, virtual collaboration, and more since 2016.

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