The growing need for digital skills, shifting workplace demographics and increased regulations make talent development a top concern for today’s HR leaders. By the year 2020 — just five years from now — there will be 85 million fewer skilled workers than businesses need to succeed. In the face of rapidly-evolving business challenges, organizations of all sizes must examine their learning and development programs and leverage technology to create an evergreen source of highly-skilled talent. According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2015 report, “Companies that transform their learning and development organizations are not only able to accelerate skills development, but also can dramatically improve employee engagement and retention.”
Research shows per employee are 29 percent higher at organizations that use an LMS to deliver learning than in organizations that don’t#. But for years, only the largest enterprises could afford full-featured learning technology. Most learning management systems (LMS) were hosted on-premise and required dedicated IT infrastructure, staff, and resources. Any upgrade had to be handled internally at extra cost and for most organizations with thousands of employees, the benefits made the expense and effort worthwhile. For small or midsize businesses (SMB), the cost of this investment prevented them from making technology-enabled learning and development a priority.
HR technology can offer SMBS a cost effective, highly-scalable learning solution though SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) technologies. These web-based solutions are quick to implement, upgrades are seamless and expensive hardware and support staffs aren’t necessary.
What’s different for SMBs?
Now, with the availability of SaaS solutions, more SMBs than ever are adopting learning solutions. On average, more than 70 percent of SMBs are using an LMS and they are spending at a higher rate than large enterprises. However, now that these organizations have access to affordable technology, they are facing similar challenges to their enterprise counterparts. The problem is no longer to simply find an affordable solution, but to now find an efficient, effective platform.
The essentials for SMB learning buyers
If you’re wondering where to begin, cost is always a consideration, but it isn’t the only one or even the most important. LMS buyers should focus on integration, ease of use, efficiency, effectiveness and support.
• Integration: It’s easy for any business to put learning into its own silo, apart from other HR functions. However, achieving the full business benefits of learning and other talent technologies requires integration with other systems and processes. Whichever LMS you choose, it must integrate with your other HR and business technology investments and fit in with your broader talent strategy.
• Ease of use: While user adoption is important, an easy-to-use LMS requires more than just a slick user interface. Is it easy to implement, manage, and administer? An LMS must truly be intuitive to support everyone’s needs and to get results without adding extra staff or incurring additional costs.
• Efficiency: SaaS LMS systems have been a big breakthrough for SMBs in terms of efficiency. There’s no need to dedicate hardware or IT staff for support, and upgrades are handled automatically.
• Effectiveness: Finding the right balance of LMS features and functionality can be a challenge for SMBs. Organizations should not pay for a bunch of bells and whistles that never get used nor they should buy a solution that is so stripped down that it barely meets the current needs. Learning solution should be able to grow with the evolving needs of the organization.
• Support: One out of every five LMS buyers is looking to change vendors because of poor customer support. The brutal truth is that too many vendors will say anything to make the sale, and then leave buyers on their own after the deal closes. “Easy implementation” and “intuitive features” shouldn’t be code words for no support. With the best LMS solutions, buyer/vendor interactions don’t end after the sale.
If you’re a small or midsize business buyer who is looking for an LMS, your timing is perfect. Now more than ever, employers need to train and develop their own people to successfully address changing business needs and pervasive competition. Providing your employees the tools and the training to help them get better at their jobs will not only drive employee performance and satisfaction, but also move your organization forward.
#CedarCrestone HR Systems Report 2011-12.