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Best Practices for Transitioning to a New LMS

  • 14 June 2021
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Userlevel 4

We all know migrating solutions can be a heavy lift for administrators, but there’s also a lot to think about in terms of helping your learners to transition and adopt the new system! Was curious to hear some best practices on migration, less focused on the technical aspect and more focused on the change management aspect for learners. Here’s a few specific points I’d love to gather thoughts on; 

  • What to do before learners come into the new system / How to prepare for learners to come into the new system?
  • Ways to communicate to learners about the new system? (Especially for a customer audience) 
  • How to gauge how learners are acclimating to the new environment? 

Thank you all!

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Best answer by elamast 14 June 2021, 17:03

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Userlevel 6
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The number one thing I would recommend is getting influencers onboard as early as possible.  The influencers should be drawn from every group that needs something from the LMS. Try to get them into the product selection phase starting with surveys, focus groups, etc.  If you can’t do that, then bring them in to give them a voice in configuration.  The earlier you can involve them, the easier it will be to get adoption. Think of every group that could torpedo the new system and get their input and genuine buy-in.

It’s also important that they do not see themselves as a rubber stamps (or even scapegoats) for decisions that have already been made, so their involvement and input needs to be genuine and authentic. If they really don’t have a say over certain aspects, then define those limitations right up front so that they know how much influence they actually have.  I’m sure some of us have been put in positions where this wasn’t the case and have the scars to prove it.

While you will naturally need to “sell” the system internally, be very careful not to oversell it. I’ve been through multiple rollouts where the LMS was being sold as a panacea to all the things people didn’t like about their old system. That is the best way to set yourself up for failure. At the same time, there’s a fine art of learning to how to couch a “no” in positive terms while being truthful. Be honest about the limitations of your new system, but immediately follow up with your problem-solver hat on for how we might be able to do something similar by (for instance) leveraging the API to get a particular result.

(LMS Heresy warning) Often the focus by everyone is going to be on the LMS itself, which is usually not what matters most to the learner. Learners are far more interested in the content and the aesthetics, while admins tend to focus on feature/function stuff that makes their lives easier in terms of tracking and reporting. You will benefit by having separate teams focused on technical setup and content so that you can make the right first impression.

If possible, phased rollouts are preferable to cut-overs. Roll out the system first to a low-risk test group that has a high likelihood of success. Give those users an easy way to provide feedback so that you can spot the issues that will need to be addressed before making a larger rollout. You’ll need to start your rollout with a skeleton set of QRGs, job aids, user guides, Loom videos, and build out your FAQ. At first you’re guessing what people will need to know, but you’ll quickly find that things you thought were obvious weren’t. Understand you’ll also be identifying some of your squeaky wheels who need to be won over for the next phase.

Historical records are probably one of the most painful parts of rollouts.  I’ve done four major rollouts of new systems (and several minor ones), and the issues usually come up here. Every LMS handles these differently, and some in surprising ways. Not every LMS lets you have multiple completion records for the same course. The systems vary considerably in what they call things, how much SCORM information can be reported out of the old system, and imported, etc. Do not rely on what a salesperson tells you, but test everything before you promise a particular outcome.  (You *did* get a test/sandbox system in your contract, right?)  You may be best served by getting a database dump of all the old completions and starting fresh in the new system.  Whatever you decide, you need to communicate those expectations as positively yet honestly as you can.

Measuring adoption may be difficult. One way is by surveys. You may find that management will have a different perception than non-management learners (both are important in different ways). Hopefully you’ve been communicating with your management and general user population (perhaps through your influencer group) all along, and should have a pretty good idea of how things are going, and the surveys will not surprise you. Expect that your real adoption success isn’t going to be measured by how many pieces of new content you load, or even how long users spend in courses. Your most meaningful adoption numbers are a function of what your original goals were in selecting a new system.  If you were trying to replace X hours of ILT with eLearning, how well were you able to do that?  If you were trying to increase sales of courses, were you able to do that?  If you were trying to meet a compliance objective, how well did you accomplish that?  If you’re not hitting those goals, think about what the roadblocks are and how to best overcome those.

Userlevel 4

@elamast This is incredible insight! I really appreciate the call out to identify limitations on influencers up front. I’ve seen many guinea pigs/influencers burned out in the past by caring so much and being so thoughtful with their feedback, only to be discouraged from future participation due to those ideas and thoughtfulness never truly being heard or implemented. 

Thank you for sharing so much great advice! 

Userlevel 7
Badge +3

It’s quite an interesting topic! Being an LMS administrator, we often don’t think about how changing the LMS may affect other departments and the way they are commucating things. It is important to get at least some people involved and prepared. Switching to a new LMS should never be an unannounced surprise as it may cause unforeseen issues.

In our organisation, our LMS was always focused on trainings that relate to specific projects. Due to that, every project had their own communication for new-joiners etc. When we changed our LMS to Docebo, it was crucial that every project knew about it beforehand.

We moved all the trainings to the new LMS and made sure all the projects were prepared. They had links to their project-related trainings stored in various places and they also send them out in different emails. Because of that, once we recreated the trainings in Docebo, we gave them the updated links before the launch of the new platform so that they could update them.

All of this has a pretty cool side-effect as well. Lots of people already know about the new LMS beforehand and are expecting it. This combined with a few video trainings on how to move around the new system helps a lot. Additionally, don’t forget that in most organisations changing the LMS is a big thing - people are curious to see what’s new and how it works. To our surprise, for the first two months after we switched to Docebo, we exceeded the expected number of Active Users.

Userlevel 7
Badge +6

This is a great question, and I’m interested in seeing everyone’s answers. Loved the thoughtful response from @elamast!

We’re currently going through implementation, and we are EXE, so we want to make sure our external customers are prepared first and foremost. At the same time we need to make sure our internal resources that are customer-facing are also prepared for themselves and when they are dealing with customers. With our anticipated go-live date of Oct 12, we are now putting together a Launch Champions team made up of different internal stakeholders on our training team. There goal is to outline the transition experience for both internal users and external customers.

Some examples for internal users would include:

  • getting into the system early and getting comfortable with their normal processes in the new system.
    • What’s different?
    • What’s the same?
    • What are the impacts upstream and downstream of that role?
  • Of course they’re giving input and testing opportunities along the way which helps.

For external customers:

  • we are planning to start getting them excited for the change through our existing monthly newsletters, in our online community, and banners in our current LMS. That will start in July with general teasers and building to more specific over the next 3 months. 
  • we also want them to pull their own historical completions for their own records, because we’re only moving over the past 2 years of completions over to Docebo (no need to move over 9 years of info to the new system when we’ll already have it in our data warehouse. We don’t even want to move over the last 2 years, but we understand that might be a rough customer experience.)
  • As we get closer to go-live we’re going to do a countdown to the change and what they can expect.
  • Adding a slide to the decks used during training
  • Spotlight the change at our annual conference in October

We are exciting about the change and all of the new customer engagement opportunities we’ll have with Docebo. We won’t be rolling them all out at go-live, so we will be able to keep adding new features gradually over the next year to keep excitement up. It’ll also allow us to make sure we’re good at what we’re currently doing before moving on to new features. 

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