What’s an LMS? Here’s everything you need to know


Jul 23, 2021

When it comes to onboarding new employees and continuing to engage them for the long term, on-going education is a necessity in the workplace. Being able to streamline the process using a Learning Management System is one way to ensure you remain compliant, while also providing the skills based training that your employees are looking for.

What is a Learning Management System? It’s a platform that helps you create, manage, and deliver essential training and educational materials to your organization. A survey of HR managers found that 56% considered training and development to be an essential business enabler. Since virtual and mobile training both saw an increase during the pandemic in 2020, this type of engagement is both familiar and efficient. 

For courses about everything from health and safety, to cybersecurity, to sexual harassment, it’s integral to know the information is reaching the right people at the right milestones in their employment. A Learning Management System ensures that even when employees are working from home, they’re up to date on policies and trends that affect your company and your industry.

What are the different types?

There are different styles of LMS depending on the size of your company, and the type of training you’d like to offer. Consider the number of employees you have, the amount of compliance training required annually, and the styles of learning that best suit your workforce. 

Here are just a few examples of LMS types that might be right for you:

Open Source
Open source software is free, which could be a benefit depending on your budget. But while it can save you money upfront, it may cost you in time to keep your LMS in good working order. Upgrades, hosting, and maintenance will fall to your team, not to mention set up time.

A scalable solution for companies of all sizes, this licensed type of LMS is customizable for your business. These systems commonly come complete with a library of training options and other built-in features. This is a great solution for large teams who could benefit from some automated management that sends set reminders to ensure timely completion.

This is a great ready-made option for companies looking to begin with a new system on your own network. It’s easy to establish and distribute across your organization’s hardware, and you can troubleshoot with your own in-house IT team. Depending on your network limitations, installation might be right for you.

Cloud-Based (SaaS)
The advantage of this type of LMS is the fact that it can be accessed from a multitude of devices from anywhere in the world. Because the system isn’t tethered to a specific drive or computer, employees can complete training from home, from their mobile devices, or from the office. When it comes to compliance regulations, the more access your team has to training, the more likely it will get done correctly and on time. Proprietary technical support is another great feature of this kind of software, ensuring troubleshooting doesn’t fall to your own team.

What are the benefits?

Learning Management Systems are first and foremost a tool to help you educate your staff in ways that work for them and for you. Developing and determining required training for your operation should be where you put your energy, not in checking in on progress department by department, or sending reminder emails. Put plainly, one of the key benefits of a Learning Management System is the work it does for you. Here are some other benefits. 

Saves Time
The speed with which you can set up and deliver training is a major benefit of an LMS. From course selection, to enrollment rules, to compliance checks, training sessions can be launched within minutes, saving you precious hours.

Saves Money
Spending on trainers, travel, and space is all cut down with an LMS. Because your employees can train at any time online, they can also fit sessions into their days rather than be forced to rearrange their most productive hours, or important meetings.

Access to Reporting
Access to data can give you insights into how your training is impacting your workforce. Information like training history and course progress can point out gaps in learning, and automated reminders let you know when teams are in need of recertification. 

Caters to Different Learning Styles
Variation in the style of courses available also supports the diverse ways that people learn. When you cater to different learning styles, engagement goes up and training becomes more effective. And remember, training is an essential business enabler.

Which features should I be looking for?

Finding an LMS with the features that best suit your industry and your company’s needs is a great way to determine which type is right for you. 

Library of Pre-built Courses
Being able to select educational courses from a catalogue of pre-built options is a great way to quickly launch your compliance training program off the ground while remaining confident that the right information is getting to your team. An LMS with a course catalogue is a resource you’ll go back to again and again, and the consistency of the classes will create a familiar sense with employees who regularly train. 

Intelligent Course Assignment
One of the most time consuming tasks for Learning Management is remembering to assign the right course, to the right employee, at the right time. For example, managers often have to take a different sexual harassment training course than non-managers. An LMS would be able to assign manager training automatically, once an employee has been promoted so you don’t even have to think about it. 

Automated Progress Tracking
Depending on the size of your team, ensuring compliance can be a major job. A Learning Management System should update you regarding how many courses are complete, in-progress, overdue, or not even started yet. This dashboard-style overview will enable you to keep track of training company-wide so you never miss a deadline. 

For those in the progress tracker who haven’t yet begun their required training, automated reminders and push notifications take the management out of learning management. Should a compliance audit ever come your way, you can rest assured you’ve hit your targets. 

Expired Certification Alerts
Should an employee be lacking a renewed safety certification for, say, driving a forklift, you could be on the hook for hefty fines. An LMS with a time and attendance system attached can create a digital barrier to clocking in until the training is complete, and even send alerts before an employee's certification expires in the first place. If the LMS system is cloud-based, that training can be done on the spot from any device. This type of feature gives you peace of mind that no one is operating without the training they need to stay safe.

Who needs a Learning Management System?

Learning Management Systems are beneficial to companies of all sizes because of the way they shift the onus of repetitive tasks away from Human Resources onto an automated service. Small companies increased their training per person in 2020, which means more work for your small team. For large organizations with hundreds of employees to educate and keep compliant, training alone requires full-time attention. The right LMS can solve for both of these issues. 

Additionally, companies with many remote workers and offices spread across the country can apply the same training in the exact same format and know that it will be completed per the legal specifications of each state.

Make training your team easy with Rippling

Whether you’re training employees on your own products using your own programs, or selecting compliance courses from a catalogue, educating your organization on the information they need to know should be seamless. Learning Management Systems automate repetitive work, while keeping you informed with a dashboard perspective over the entire company. Investing in the right system will save you time and money, all while arming your staff with knowledge. 

Learn more about how to quickly, efficiently, and confidently train and educate your employees using an automated system with Rippling’s Learning Management System.

last edited: April 25, 2023

The Author

The Rippling Team

Global HR, IT, and Finance know-how directly from the Rippling team.