Published: Nov 1, 2018
Time to read: 6mins
Category: Learning

Building an LMS Implementation Project Plan: 5 Things You Need to Know

No matter how much technical ingenuity powers a new system, a new Learning Management System (LMS) can only be as good as the LMS implementation project plan behind it.

Sensible steps such as taking a methodical approach, setting a viable timeline and asking the right people to try out a new LMS all help make an implementation more likely to go smoothly.

Here are five essential tips to help you lay the foundations for an LMS that is measurably transformative for your learners and the organization as a whole.

Recommended related reading: 'The 13 Must-Have Features of a Learning Management'

1. The Right LMS Implementation Project Plan Begins with Sound Planning

As obvious as it might sound, good planning is key to the success of any LMS implementation plan. Understanding what a watertight plan looks like is, however, less straightforward. At the start, the framework and the measurable milestones to be achieved within a project need to be agreed. The potential outcomes also need to be determined, as well as the requirements of each role within the project.

Milestones help stakeholders determine whether an LMS implementation project plan is on track and whether there will need to be any deviations or adjustments from the opening plan. Thorough planning will determine whether the proposed go-live date is achievable. If it’s not, the project plan needs to determine whether the date is flexible and the main drivers for the date.

This blueprint (project plan) is the point of reference for when there are delays and should be used to visibly identify the impact a delay has on the go-live date.

It’s wise to add 25% contingency into your plan for unexpected delays such as change in scope, technical issues and stakeholder approvals. Take into account the time required by external vendors to undertake key tasks that will play a key role in the implementation of the system. These could include data migration, IT aspects such as single sign-on and components needing integration, such as an HR system.

2. Creating an LMS Implementation Project Plan: Structuring the Team

Establishing what needs to be prioritized and delivered in the initial phase also gives you a sound understanding of the resources required. That could include your LMS vendor, an internal project team and any third-party vendors who might take responsibility for elements such as learning portal creation or incorporating data in an HR system.

Some of the key roles and responsibilities within any given team can include:

  • Project sponsors to oversee the costs of the project and take business interests into account
  • Project managers to manage daily operations and key milestones
  • IT leads responsible for any task requiring technical expertise

Subject matter experts who may be responsible for learning management, communications, marketing, and the way the LMS looks and feels according to corporate branding guidelines.

These roles are key to ensuring that the LMS will function as expected for users and represents the organization from a branding and general platform policy perspective.

3. Getting the Execution of Your Implementation Plan Right

Once you’ve assessed your available resources, you can address the various milestones that need to be achieved. Kick-off and requirements workshops are a good way of achieving this. The milestones will incorporate, or at least take into account, individual timeframes and the availability of resources to execute on your LMS implementation project, to ensure that timescales will be met.

Ongoing governance and regular project calls should keep track of how these targets are progressing. They should also ensure that the necessary support is being provided from all aspects of the business in order for all the deliverables to be met as agreed.

Meetings should monitor whether daily tasks are being completed and individuals are performing at the levels anticipated at the outset. You should also check that issues are being logged and addressed, the timeline allocated is accurate, and that everything is being managed within the baseline project plan.

Any hurdles, such as additional costs and removing red tape for approvals, may require high-level engagement. For a project of up to three months, governance meetings are usually monthly. On a one-year project, they are more likely to be quarterly. The exact timing depends on the availability of stakeholders and how critical the project is to business success.

4. Carrying Out Pilot Testing

When the user perspective is isolated to a small group, a project stands the risk of failure in go-live. If a system has only been tested by those involved in the LMS implementation, the lack of rounded feedback is very likely to significantly affect the end-user experience.

This is why pilot testing needs to extend to a dispersed and diverse pilot group with access to different local environments. This creates additional feedback on the end-user experience.

For example, if certain learners are located remotely and have a poor Internet connection, you wouldn’t want online videos to be the key method of learning provided to them.

With comprehensive testing, the LMS implementation project plan team can establish that the LMS built is configured so it’s fit for purpose and intuitive with a high-standard user experience.

5. Measuring the Results of Your LMS Implementation

Judging the success of an LMS implementation depends upon setting out goals, objectives and measurable KPIs in an LMS implementation project plan. Knowing why certain deliverables have been prioritized and what the organization wants to achieve forms the basis of measuring success.

For example, your priorities might be ensuring that all your users can access a course via a single sign-on, browse a catalog and complete their learning by the end of the year.

Using these elements, you can incorporate KPIs to determine what has been delivered and deployed. For example:

  • The percentage of learners completing mandatory training by location, department and job title
  • The number of tickets not logged as a result of system user IDs or passwords being forgotten (SSO)
  • The impact of mandatory learning being completed (e.g., more Health and Safety issues reported due to awareness as a result of online learning).

It's important to establish pre-project metrics that can be used to compare in 6 and 12 months post-go-live.

Setting the metrics for measuring success is an important part of an effective LMS implementation project plan.

Achieving LMS Implementation Success

As we've seen, implementing an LMS requires a great deal of thought—but getting your project plan right is a significant factor in the success of your system.

Whatever your organization’s needs, we can remove a significant amount of the uncertainty around your LMS implementation and help you create a plan that will lead to long-lasting success.

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