Generic learning management system demo videos on websites or YouTube don’t provide the complete story. To see the features you want working in seamless coordination to support your exact learning system use case, you need to schedule and organize use case demonstrations. It’s really the only way to dig in to see each platform in action, and it’s a critical step in the process of finding the best LMS for your organization.
There are two types of learning management system demos: those driven by vendors (marketing demonstrations) and those driven by buyers (use case demonstrations). Vendors prefer marketing demonstrations because they can show their product in the absolute best light and conveniently skip the parts that are less great – but that may be what you really need to see before buying. It’s challenging to select a learning platform without this eye-opening LMS comparison.
Use case demonstrations are scripted around the exact steps you want your learners or key users to take to access the learning system, find content and consume content. There is no better way to select a platform than to verify the capability of vendors that stood out in the RFP process via a learning management system demo.
LMS Demos – Slow Down
No buyer skips the LMS demo phase. They key is don’t let vendors drive the LMS demo and show a generic marketing demonstration. Use case demonstrations are literally the only way to ensure that your LMS has the features you need, will function the way you want and is the best learning management platform for your organization.
Consider the downsides of letting the vendor drive a marketing demo:
- You know that System A has the features you want. Later it’s discovered that the system has a particular feature, but it works terribly, taking 20 clicks to complete.
- During implementation, you discover that some features don’t have the proper configurations, forcing manual administration
- And worst case – unforeseen limitations mean the learning system cannot be implemented, causing project and (possibly) career failure.
Learning management system demos prevent all of the above and help you build confidence in your final selection choice. When the demos and discussions are completed, you’ll be glad you took this step to dive into the systems and really see them operate in the way a typical learner will use them.
Define Your Use Case
Many learning system vendors claim to have a variety of features. Remember, they’re keeping tabs on their competition and sometimes publicly state that a feature exists, when in reality it’s not fully developed or configurable.
The only way to truly see and compare the same feature across systems is to ask the finalist vendors to show how their solution addresses a particular use case you defined in the RFP. If social learning is important, ask each vendor to demonstrate exactly how it works in their system in the context you want to use it – cohorts, expert finder or content sharing, for example.
We at Talented Learning have identified 7 best practices to ensure a successful learning management system demo:
- Create 4 or 5 specific use cases for your critical learners, training customers and other audiences, and ask each LMS vendor to demonstrate, step-by-step, how each case operates in their product.
- Create a rating checklist in advance by which your team can evaluate vendors, apples-to-apples, on the same use cases. Consider weighting specific use cases or criteria if some are more important than others, for example, LMS administration versus training courses for new hires.
- Ensure each LMS vendor knows that you will be comparatively grading them on each of the use cases as well as the steps to complete.
- Encourage vendors to use the detailed information you provided in the RFP to customize their learning management system demo.
- Be sure to allow enough time to see each solution in-depth, and for your internal team to discuss afterwards (without the vendor). A minimum of 2.5 to 3 hours per demo is usually sufficient.
- Complete ratings sheets and notes during or directly after each demo, or else the demos and differentiators will all run together.
- Debrief often as a buying team and share feedback.