Things you should look for in a training management system


What should you look for when you’re trying to find a new training management system? Some things are features - a lot depends on your training niche - and other things are good practices/qualities that you should expect to find in any modern software as a service solution.

Here are 9 things you should look for:

  1. Information about how data is backed up.

    It’s amazing how many organisations put their mission critical data and faith in cloud services, without ever really knowing anything about how their data is backed up and what will happen in the unlikely event that data needs to be restored from a backup.

    Things you need to know - is your data backed up in real-time or is it at the end of each day? If disaster strikes, how long will it take your software provider to bring the service back and how much data do you stand to lose?
  2. Confirmation that you can access all your data if at some point in the future you decide to switch to another system.
  3. A modern, intuitive user interface that you and your colleagues can start using with almost no training.

    A well designed cloud based software as a service solution won’t require a lot of end user training. There might be FAQs, videos and possibly discussion forums, but it is reasonable to expect that you don’t have to sit in a room with your colleagues and listen to a trainer. The sign of a good system is one that doesn’t need extensive end user training.
  4. Features and tools that will help you promote your courses and take course booking online.

    With some training management systems you can build an online course directory, advertise courses online and take bookings. You might want learners to self-enrol. You want to be able to create attractive, engaging course overview pages and then publish them to the web. Custom categories would be nice and everything needs to be optimised so course pages look great when shared across social media.
  5. A way to track attendance and capture course delegate feedback.
  6. Management of rooms and equipment - maybe.

    Useful if you do classroom based courses because you might want to know room availability when you schedule a course.
  7. Simple built in reports plus remote access to more data for tools like Microsoft Power BI.

    I always think it’s better to get data out of the system and then do the analysis somewhere else (MS Excel for example). So simple reports that can be filtered by data rages and other parameters and then downloaded are usually enough.

    Sometimes you do want to do more with your data. Is there a way of getting access to your data so you can do some more sophisticated analysis offline in a tool like Microsoft Power BI?
  8. Configurable emails and alerts.

    I’d like the system to send out alerts, reminders and booking confirmations. I’d also want some control over text and branding of emails.
  9. A simple pricing model so you understand what happens to the overall cost as your user base grows.

    Is it a cost per user licence, a fee per delegate or something like pricing based on tiers? You need to know this because some systems become expensive as your user base grows.

What's the conclusion?

Getting started with new business software has never been easier. Gone are the days when you needed actual visits from sales people and professional services consultants. Now you sign up, start a free trial (maybe) and then start paying your subscription.

Still need to do due diligence though, particularly around what happens when your business grows and/or you want to switch suppliers.