When organisations decide to go the LMS route in providing learning for their teams the core focus is so often on types of learning, standards supported, mobile capabilities and how learners can be organised. It is often an afterthought to consider reporting. This approach is utterly incorrect. If you think about the core aim of an LMS it becomes clear that an LMS is a solution to managing assignment and tracking of learning for a group of learners. That means that once yo have the basic of being able to assign your learning to learners out of the way (if an LMS can’t do that, well – it isn’t an LMS!), then it is all about how useful the reporting is.
I have been on both sides of the LMS sales process and have seen how often fancy looking reports are shown and genuinely impress the potential buyer. I have sadly also seen the long term results of a hasty purchase without analysis against real use cases for your business needs. As a first step to finding the exact reporting capabilities you need in your LMS you really need to find out what information you will want, and the format you will want it in.
To help you towards this decision I have listed to some of the different types of reporting that I feel you should be looking for in a potential LMS. If you have others you think should be included please let me know if the comments.
Detailed Reporting with Filters
This is essential in an LMS – without the ability to see trends in your learner’s behavior it is impossible to know how effective your training programs are. The level of reporting capability varies hugely across different Learning Management Systems, and you really need to dig deep to see how good each one is. Before you have a demo of an LMS from a salesperson you should create a set of scenarios that you want to have demonstrated – to help you get started here are some key reporting requirements that came up in our research –
Report on learner engagement
This functionality is where you can see how many users started each course, and of those what % completed it, as well as the rates for passing and failing, number of exam attempts and study duration averages. A best of breed LMS will allow you to see this across all courses as well as a subset of courses. For example, if you have 10 IT related courses you should be able to report on those and identify if a higher percentage of students drop out of one course – suggesting it is failing for some reason. Perhaps it is too difficult, or poorly presented, or simply is not suitable for your learners (maybe it covers a technology framework that differs to the one you use in your IT department). These insights are vital to your learning officer(s) in managing your library of learning and ensuring it has maximum impact on the skills of your staff.
Report on groups of individuals
If you have 100 staff you probably don’t just want to see what every person has done all in one report, instead you would like to select the members of a particular team, or who fulfill a distinct job role. Your LMS should allow you to select specific users and generate a custom report on them.
Report on Specific Courses
A common complaint I have heard is that when you run a report on courses you only have two options – one course in lots of detail or all courses in limited detail. A few LMSs out there have something in between where you can pick a couple of courses and compare them. This seems like an insignificant ask, but think it through – supposing you have licensed two courses from different providers covering Project Management. The licenses are coming up for renewal and you want to see the full stats for both, ideally in a rich visual way to clearly see the impact each has. If you can only report separately you have to do all the work yourself to map one against the other. Isn’t that what you are paying a small fortune for your LMS to do for you?
Time based custom reporting
This is an absolute must have for any LMS reporting capability. You need to be able to run every single report over custom time frames. You need to see how an individual studied over a study break, how a course was studied over a quarter, how a team studied over a year. Do not purchase an LMS that will not give you this level of customization as you will really regret it!