Published On: March 11, 2015By
Talented Learning LMS Reviews: RISC VTA

See More Vendors in our LMS Directory

Since 1992, RISC with its Virtual Training Assistant (VTA) learning management system, has focused on solving the administrative challenges of compliance training in regulated industries.

Organizations in regulated industries like energy, financial, pharmaceutical and transportation have complex compliance training and certification management challenges.  Regulatory standards and the associated training requirements vary at local, state, national and international levels and organizations that operate across these regulatory lines have little choice but to juggle the administrative complexity or pay the piper.  If an organization is caught out of compliance, they pay substantial accumulating fines.

Compliance management is not glamorous.  It is hard work.  Think LMS in overalls.  Grown over two decades, RISC has a level of granular configurability that can support any mandatory training scenario.  It’s admin heavy.  Real heavy.

For all the complexity and options available, the learning curve for RISC was manageable.  With a couple hours of guided demos and few hours on my own, I was getting around pretty easily.  Once you learn how to do one administrative task, you can pretty much do most tasks as the icons, steps and options are very consistent. To set up RISC though, you will need and want a full-service implementation to help think through all your options and choose the most streamlined way to manage your training and compliance.  There will also always be the challenge of educating your future administrators and delegated administrators going forward due to the involved nature of the application.

With RISC, every object is tied to all the other objects in a matrix concept.  For example, when managing a course, you can manage individuals, groups, competencies, surveys and assessments associated with the course.  When managing a user, you can view all the courses, groups, competencies, resources, surveys and assessments associated with the user.  This type of approach is consistent throughout the product and provides a lot of flexibility because you can approach an administrative problem from many angles to get, set and report on training the way you need it.  All of that saves clicks and donations to the swear jar.

Reporting and analytics are deep and real-time in RISC as you might expect.  There are over 100 highly configurable user, course, cost, team, competency and exception reports allowing you to get super sliced data.  The ability to export reports to pivot tables in Excel provides the next level of analysis.  RISC should incorporate more dashboards and reports via mobile apps to enhance the overall proactive value of their solution.

Another feature that I like was the integration of ID card swipe technology with the LMS.   In real-time when an employee’s or contractor’s ID card is swiped, the card swipe machine fires off a request to the LMS to check the user’s compliance records, ensures all compliance is up to date and even confirms compliance will be up to date for the duration of assignment.  If compliance check fails then access to buildings, vehicles and equipment is restricted.  Cool stuff.  The same feature can be used to confirm registration to instructor-led seminars or to take attendance in live session.  Once they take this capability to mobile devices this summer it will be a great example of xAPI in action.

From a learner perspective, the RISC VTA is functional but not exciting.  (Updates on the user interface are due out this year.)  Users have the option to set any page in the VTA as their landing page, but by default you land on the mandatory training plan where you have the option to enroll in live training or launch assigned eLearning content.  Through the use of the header menus, learners have access to training history, upcoming training, competencies, programs of study, their training wish list, a few progress dashboards and surveys.

Finally, I like the RISC blog.  RISC has been in the learning technology industry since the beginning and is always involved in the collaborative creation of new universal standards and technologies such as AICC, SCORM, xAPI (Tin Can) and now CMI-5 and they post deep meaningful explanations of emerging technology that I use to educate myself.

My assessment:  If you work in a training department responsible for managing training compliance in multiple jurisdictions and the downside of being out of compliance is really serious, the RISC VTA should be evaluated.  If you are looking for some glitzy, gamified, Facebook, Amazon-like LMS to sell your eLearning content, keep looking.


RISC Profile

Company Name:  RISC


Overview video:


Social Sites:  TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, YouTube

Contact Information:

Internal Employee Ready:  Yes

Extended Enterprise Ready:  Yes

Types of Extended Enterprise Expertise Learning Supported:

  • Contract workforce compliance
  • Franchise
  • Member companies

Competitive Differentiation:

  • 23 years of LMS product and market expertise
  • Designed to support global, complex workforce compliance
  • Focus on customer satisfaction and customer service

Top 3 Industries Served:

  • Retail
  • Oil and Gas
  • Government


Domain Management:

Domain management is bigger in RISC than the standard parent-child relationship in most LMSs.  There is extremely granular segmentation by business line, department, work area, region, sites, shifts, lines, learner types and even badge scan locations.  Each group has configurable business rules, emails, reports and much more.

Content Management:

Administrator maintains a catalog of online, instructor-led and blended-learning offerings, saving time whenever classes are scheduled. In addition to title and description, the course objectives, prerequisites, required materials and credit hours are stored in the system.

Competency Management:

I liked the feature that allows learners to take a self-assessment of who they are and based on their answers they are placed in a group and provided a training plan.  Some other features are:

  • Organizations can define competency profiles across the organization
  • Document employee skills for workforce deployment, succession planning and recruiting and compensation
  • Students can easily self-assess on competencies, review their official assessments and update their personal development plans as they build their skills
  • Managers and supervisors can assess their employees
  • Develop individual development plans for students to help them close competency gaps

Compliance Management:

Compliance management is all about ensuring all the regulatory training requirements a learner has are current at all times.  Features include:

  • Requirements can be one-time or recurring events
  • Requirements can contain both a primary and a refresher course
  • Once the primary course is successfully completed, the student must periodically take the refresher
  • Requirements can contain a “due month” so that training load can be spread throughout the year
  • Requirements can be combined with “and” or “or” capabilities
  • Automatic e-mail for upcoming and past-due training requirements
  • Detailed compliance exception reporting

Role Management:

  • It doesn’t get any more granular than this.  Administrators have the ability to create or modify an unlimited number of roles or learner types.
  • Every existing or new role can be configured to allow view, edit or add rights across every single feature in the LMS.

User Experience:

  • User experience is designed to drive the user to compliance training
  • Admin interface has an extreme level of configuration


  • Internal cost tracking and reporting for live training like instructor fees, meals, audio/video, etc.
  • Charge groups and codes for detailed internal billing and chargebacks
  • Can purchase a course using PayPal but no B2C features like shopping cart, checkout or credit cards acceptance

Social Learning: 

Social learning is not an important feature set when you focus on ensuring regulatory compliance.  Some minimal social learning features include:

  • “Skills” – Not in the traditional sense of skills and competencies, but more like the skills in LinkedIn where you can be endorsed by others and have it documented on your profile
  • Blogs


  • Appears to be mobile responsive to a degree as menu reorganizes but main viewing areas remains fixed
  • No mobile apps

Gamification:  None

Content Support:

  • Create, deliver and report on knowledge assessments and surveys
  • Instructor-led
  • Documents
  • xAPI


  • You can manage global audiences by segregating groups, and then associating compliance rules and content available specifically with each group
  • Dutch, German, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Spanish, Korean and Japanese language localizations plus custom languages
  • Multi-currency and time zones


  • xAPI (Tin Can)
  • Badge swipe for compliance, attendance

Reporting and Analytics:

  • Over 100 report formats with many configurable filters and options
  • All reports can be exported to a variety of formats, such as pdf, Word or Excel
  • Scheduled report for automatic delivery

See More Vendors in our LMS Directory

Need Proven LMS Selection Guidance?

Looking for a learning platform that truly fits your organization’s needs?  We’re here to help!  Submit the form below to schedule a free preliminary consultation at your convenience.

About Talented Learning LMS Reviews

Talented Learning LMS Reviews provide initial screening of vendors for extended enterprise suitability.  Vendors share lots of information on their websites — feature lists, video demos, case studies, position papers, press releases, free trials and more.  We review and analyze all of this information to determine a vendor’s mission, assess the platform’s strengths and weaknesses, and determine how effectively it serves extended enterprise learning needs.

As always, at Talented Learning, we’re not about making sweeping predictions or judging vendors.  Instead, we document the realities of today’s LMS landscape, and how learning technology is actually adding value.  We have only one goal — to help clients find appropriate LMS vendors based on their unique business requirements.

About the Author: John Leh

John Leh is 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.

Related Posts

  • Talented Learning Reviews

Training Orchestra Review

March 3, 2022|

In this Training Orchestra review, see how a training resource management system solves complex challenges around balancing live and VILT training logistics.

  • Talented Learning Reviews

Authentic Learning Labs Review

February 18, 2022|

In this Authentic Learning Labs review, learn how the company makes your existing LMS work better for learners, instructors, administrators and business owners.

  • Talented Learning Reviews

Learn Amp Review

February 10, 2022|

Learn Amp is driven by its goal to help make work life better for everyone involved. From the newest person joining the business, to the employee who has been there the longest, they want to improve the work experience...

  • Talented Learning Reviews

Growth Engineering Review

February 10, 2022|

Growth Engineering wants to make the learning experience better and more engaging in a way that proactively and measurably shows a return on investment.



Digital transformation webinar



Become a Basic Member