Published On: February 22, 2023By
Talented Learning RightFit Solution Grid

If you’re buying a learning management system, you’ll want to build an LMS shortlist right away. With more than 1000 learning system vendors competing in today’s marketplace, it’s impossible to evaluate them all, and foolish to even try. A strong shortlist is your surest path to successful results.

Start by defining and documenting your business use case and budget parameters, as well as your functional, technical, and service requirements. Then identify a handful of qualified solutions that meet your specific requirements. This is your LMS shortlist. Next, deeply evaluate each of these candidates on an apples-to-apples basis, so you can confidently select the solution that best fits your organization’s needs.

But be prepared. If you rely on vendor communications for your analysis, too often, product messaging for one learning system seems identical to others. So, how can you understand what truly differentiates each solution? What’s the quickest, most reliable way to identify your best LMS shortlist?

We’ve got the answer. Welcome to the Talented Learning RightFit Solution Grid!

Introducing the RightFit Solution Grid

The RightFit Solution Grid is our exclusive visual representation of the world’s top 40 learning systems covered in our new 2023 Talented Learning Commerical LMS and Learning System Market Report — now available at 50% off the original price!

This 2-by-2 grid visually maps similar learning solutions by category, so buyers can see at-a-glance which vendors most closely align with their goals, use case, budget, and service needs.

For example, if an organization wants a global LMS to consolidate multiple LMSs into a single new master system, the LMS shortlist options are certainly different from an organization buying its first LMS for a regional audience.

The RightFit Solution Grid can visually show both of these buyers which vendors probably make sense and which definitely do not. Once they identify their respective LMS shortlists, they can research the recommended options to find their best LMS.

Successful learning system buyers spend their limited time thoroughly evaluating a limited set of highly qualified vendors — rather than trying to identify and qualify a large pool of potentially viable systems.

Free Download — RightFit Solution Grid

Download the full RightFit Solution Grid and kickstart your learning system selection process.

What’s Special About This Grid?

Many software analysts publish industry grids that emphasize a “most desirable” position or quadrant (typically located high and to the right on the grid). In contrast, our model is designed with pragmatic decision-making in mind.

On the RightFit Solution Grid, each quadrant is desirable, depending on the buyer!

How does that work? Every vendor offers a unique combination of functionality, expertise, cost structure, and services to meet specific kinds of business needs. Likewise, every buyer comes to the purchasing process with a unique set of business, functional, technical, cost, and service requirements. The RightFit Solution Grid groups similar vendors with similar business approaches, so you can easily zero in on the best options for any scenario.

Interpreting the RightFit Solution Grid

Here’s how to use the RightFit Solution Grid to find the best learning system for your organization. Specifically, this grid maps vendors along two core dimensions:

Breadth of Purpose: Some vendors try to do it all, while others specialize in just one use case or industry. To represent this on the horizontal X-axis, we position vendors along a continuum from all-purpose use (on the left) to highly specialized use (on the right).

Complexity/Cost/Scalability: Some vendors offer significant professional service help and expertise. Others provide none, so they cost much less. To represent this visually along the vertical Y-axis, we map vendors from simple/low-cost/regional solutions (on the bottom) to sophisticated/high-cost/global solutions (at the top).

The resulting grid features four unique quadrants that help categorize and compare vendors based on their product differentiation and their clients’ common characteristics. Identify the quadrant that best fits your organization and you’ll instantly see a cluster of solutions to consider.

The four quadrants are outlined below, based on their unique vendor and buyer characteristics:

Talented Learning RightFit Grid-Powerhouse_600px

POWERHOUSE solutions are all-purpose LMSs, best for medium-to-large global organizations with complex requirements and workflow designed for training any combination of employees, customers, or partners. When migrating from another solution(s), these choices require significant support services from the vendor.

Vendor Characteristics

  • Broad LMS functionality, highly configurable
  • Strong audience management for concurrent employee, customer, and partner program support
  • Medium-to-high implementation services level
  • Third-party content options, but no custom content development services
  • Custom APIs and no/low-code integration
  • Administrative support in all time zones, but no/limited end-learner support
  • Medium-to-high total cost of ownership (TCO)

Buyer Characteristics

  • HR/training, customer service, and/or partner initiatives
  • Experienced in learning systems
  • Train employees, customers, and partners as a standalone audience or in any combination
  • Best for medium-to-large, often global organizations with complex requirements, workflows, and business ecosystems
  • No ability/desire to change business processes
  • Consolidating multiple LMSs into one or replacing a second, third, or fourth LMS
  • Supports learners with internal IT help desk
  • Price conscious, but only with solutions that meet all requirements

Talented Learning-RightFit Grid-Contender_600px

CONTENDER solutions are all-purpose LMSs, best for small-to-medium organizations with more localized operations and straightforward requirements for training any combination of employees, customers, or partners. They require minimal vendor support beyond access to the solution, online help, and support.

Vendor Characteristics

  • Broad LMS functionality, but often thin in various areas with fewer configuration options
  • Supports concurrent employee, customer, and partner solutions with some limitations
  • Self-service or minimal implementation services
  • Third-party content options, but no custom content development services
  • Heavy reliance on low/no-code integration
  • Provides local (and sometimes global) hours for administrative support but no end-learner support
  • Low-to-moderate total cost of ownership (TCO)

Buyer Characteristics

  • HR/Training buyer, often new to learning systems
  • Best for small-to-medium-sized organizations with regional or limited international audiences
  • Trains employees, customers, and partners as a standalone audience or in any combination
  • Small learning tech teams with limited deployment and custom content development capacity
  • Price-conscious, simpler requirements, able to modify business processes to align with system capabilities
  • LMS team provides end-learner support
  • Great for a first or second LMS implementation

Talented Learning RightFit Grid-Luminary_600px

LUMINARY solutions are specialty learning systems, best for medium-to-large, pure-play customer, partner/channel, or content-as-a-business training organizations with complex, mission-critical, global requirements and a need for vendor expertise, guidance, and support.

Vendor Characteristics

  • Specializes in one to two extended enterprise use case(s) with associated functionality
  • First to market with new innovations
  • Various levels of global capability
  • Diverse yet high-level services: advisory/guidance, custom content, analytics, and marketing to support target use cases
  • No third-party content options
  • Full library of APIs and low/no-code integrations
  • Global and end-learner support options
  • High total cost of ownership (TCO), but also high measurable value

Buyer Characteristics

  • Purchase points: customer support/service, marketing, partner/channel sales, program management, member education, or executive level
  • Learner experience design is a key functional requirement
  • Small-to-large standalone associations or organizations focused on customer, channel/partner, or training content-as-a-business
  • Content revenue generation is a key business driver as a core or complementary mission
  • Small learning tech teams that grow through success, often need vendor help and advice
  • Focused on value not price, willing to spend more to achieve more
  • Needs administrative and end-learner support
  • Complex integration needs, growing learner front-end customization requirements
  • Best for buyers looking to scale with a proven business model

Talented Learning -RightFit Grid-Innovator_600px

INNOVATOR solutions are specialist learning systems, best for small-to-medium, regional, pure-play customer, partner/channel, member, community, or content-as-a-business training organizations. Straightforward starter requirements, but also need some vendor expertise, guidance, and support.

Vendor Characteristics

  • Complementary or specialized functionality, solutions, or mobile app to augment and enhance an in-place LMS or single-purpose learning solution
  • No-to-medium level of service, typically to configure and integrate applications
  • Strong level of innovation
  • Often a startup with future potential for acquisition by larger all-purpose LMS or specialist vendors
  • Global capability typically is not a strength
  • No third-party content options
  • Light integration services
  • In-app support
  • Low-to-medium total cost of ownership (TCO)

Buyer Characteristics

  • HR/Training buyer, often new to learning systems
  • Best for small-to-medium organizations with regional or limited international audiences
  • Trains employees, customers, and partners as a standalone audience or in any combination
  • Small learning tech teams with limited deployment and custom content development capacity
  • Price-conscious, simpler requirements, able to modify business processes to align with system capabilities
  • LMS team provides end-learner support
  • Great for a first or second LMS

Free Download — RightFit Solution Grid

Get access to the full RightFit Solution Grid, including all 40 vendors featured in the Talented Learning 2023 Commercial LMS and Learning System Market Report


Next Steps?

Are you buying an LMS or other type of learning system? Have you downloaded the free 2023 Talented Learning RightFit Grid? Great! You are well on your way to identifying your best LMS shortlist of vendor options.

The next step is to begin researching the vendors on your shortlist. We provide many resources and consulting services to help you learn more about these solutions, finalize your LMS shortlist, and help you buy a learning system. To learn more, click on any of these capabilities:

Upgrading your LMS?
Check out our new learning systems directory
Get personal independent LMS advice from expert John Leh

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About the Author: John Leh

John Leh is Founder, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning and the Talented Learning Center. John is a fiercely independent consultant, blogger, podcaster, speaker and educator who helps organizations select and implement learning technology strategies, primarily for extended enterprise applications. His advice is based upon more than 25+years of learning-tech industry experience, serving as a trusted LMS selection and sales adviser to hundreds of learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than $100+ million and growing. John would love to connect with you on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

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