LMS Advice

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Hi, Techsmith community - this isn't so much a Techsmith question as it is a broader LMS-related question to Techsmith users.
I'm just wondering if any fellow Techsmith users (content creators of both/either written user guides and/or video tutorials) publish their work to an LMS platform that's been developed "in-house" rather than using a 3rd-party LMS platform/host? I work for a software development company (I, myself have zero tech background and minimal techie skills) where over the past couple years we've created a secure LMS platform for both internal & external use. We've had 1 dev working on this full-time for over 2 years, a couple of other devs assisting here & there, and a few of us combining our efforts and input into design, functionality, and general management/administration of the LMS itself.
I guess my 'real' question is - Is this common or do most use 3rd-party LMS platform or host? And as a follow-up question if this is common - How much input should content creators have in the design and functionality of an LMS that they're trying to maintain? In my current situation, I have almost no say unless asked for specific feedback about existing functionality. However, there are many things that I would change if I could. But, I also need to focus my efforts on content so I'm not sure if I should try to be more involved in the LMS development or just keep quiet and continue to create content.
Apologies for the long post. I appreciate any feedback and advice.

Thanks,
Allen
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agreed

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Posted 2 months ago

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davemillman

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It is certainly possible that your company's LMS requirements are so incredibly demanding and so unique that no commercial LMS could possibly handle them. But this seems unlikely with only one developer assigned to the project. Did your company actually survey the existing LMS landscape before embarking down the "build our own" path?
https://talentedlearning.com/lms-vendors-industry/
https://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software/

Purely guessing now: 
  • There was little strategic planning given to the build vs buy decision. Your LMS is possibly somebody's pet project.
  • With only one developer, progress is likely to be slow, and get slower every time a new feature gets added to the list. Meanwhile commercial products are competing like mad and constantly introducing new features. It is extremely unlikely that the "many things" you want to add will ever happen.
  • Somebody might be looking for a graceful way out of the internal project.
Because you wrote your post, it is clear that you want the best outcome, and that you have a lot of ideas on how the ultimate solution should work. Best advice for you: 
  • Create the best damn content your company has ever seen. Overdeliver.
  • Be super supportive of the internal project. This is crucial: Become the biggest fan.
  • Chat with others to gather requirements for the perfect LMS. Create a requirements spec.
  • Now the sneaky part. Find the best commercial LMS system for the company based on your spec. Do not tell anyone.
  • Load your unbelievably awesome content into that commercial LMS. If necessary spend $100 for a 30-day license to get all the features. Then demo the result to people and say, "Somebody showed me this other LMS. There are a couple of features here that might really improve our awesome in-house system. I created this demo with some of our content to show how much more awesome our system could be if we copy this feature, and this one..."
  • Be certain to show the demo to the developer first, then his manager and the other people involved. DO NOT GO BEHIND THEIR BACKS. BE SUPPORTIVE. Only after you have shown it to that team can you show it to others who care about your company's content and the LMS problem.
  • If support starts to build for the commercial LMS, you can suggest that the awesome internal project be used as a prototype. Everyone will of course agree, because that lets the developer and others escape with their pride intact.
Reasons for being sneaky: 
  • If you argue against the internal project in favor of a commercial solution, somebody is going to look bad. Politics will rear its ugly head. You could make enemies
  • If you follow the plan above, someone else can have the brilliant idea to just drop the internal project. If/when that happens, act disappointed.
Good luck.
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Dave,
Thank you so much for the reply & for the links you've shared, as well.
While it is possible that my company's LMS requirements are unique and somewhat demanding, you're absolutely correct that no one surveyed the existing LMS landscape before deciding to build our own. To be honest, prior to embarking on this project, I don't think any of us really knew what an LMS was; we were posting user guides on Confluence and video tutorials on YouTube for the world to access and the exec level wanted to tighten control over who could see our 'proprietary' software ... ::eye roll emoji::

So wouldn't you know it, 2 of your 3 guesses are 100% correct and unfortunately, the pet project has morphed into an entire petting zoo (more like an intranet than simply an LMS at this point now that I think of it) full of add-on apps and reporting which all integrate with our POS software that I'm sure no other LMS would be able to provide.

While I LOVE your advice and plan of action to migrate to a commercial LMS, I don't believe it would be feasible now. But, it probably would've been 12-18 months ago. At this point, we've gotten so far into developing bespoke features, etc. that I really can't see the powers-that-be dropping the internal project even if they realize that it's the better option.

I will take a look at some of the Hospitality LMSs in the link you provided; thank you again for that. Other than that, I think I realize now that my best course of action might be to just keep on keeping on with overdelivering quality content and supporting the internal project through gritted teeth.

Thanks again for your reply.

Allen
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davemillman

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Sorry I wasn't more help. So does PoS stand for "Point of Sale" or "Piece of Steak?"
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Joe Morgan

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https://skyprep.com/resources/buying-vs-building-an-lms/

Buying vs. Building an LMS

Organizations take a lot of considerations into account with regards to whether they should build a learning management system (LMS) in-house, or buy LMS software and customize it for their training purposes. There are many reasons why an organization might choose one over the other. On one side, there is the process of developing everything needed, ensuring that the platform fully fits the look and the usage of the company, while on the other hand there is the cost-effective method of finding an LMS that will be able to fit an organization’s needs. When deciding whether to build or buy an LMS, there are several things to consider when deciding what best suits your company’s needs.

I've read more comprehensive articles on this subject. Among many challenges.........Possessing the nessesary talent to create one in the first place.Then keeping it updated and running smooth. Being just the tip of the iceberg.

Hope things work out for ya Allen

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@Dave - not a problem; I appreciate your info and suggestions. POS stands for "Point of Sale" ...sometimes "piece of **** something else"
@Joe - thanks for your reply. Buy vs. Build we should've looked into 2+ years ago before starting to develop our own, but at the time the focus was more "make our content secure" and not realizing it would become an LMS. It's been a challenge. Thanks, Joe.

Allen
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Ken Whitaker

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I've struggled with this too. There are over 500 (look at Capterra) LMS apps out there. Everybody is in the online eLearning portal game. So unless you have specific feature requirements not available, it doesn't seem like a good investment to create another one. One that I've used that can be used internally and externally is the one from DigitalChalk. They offer all sorts of user models and for content providers, not expensive to get started in.
If you just want a barebones one, why not use TechSmith's own Screencast? Not exactly a LMS but as long as you handle student billing through some other "store" system, it works! TechSmith, you need to allow more capacity with Screencast (number of views, size of content) or simply better yet acquire a killer LMS for your own customers and do your amazing marketing to commercialize it. All of us Camtasia users who make learning solutions have to look somewhere else for a LMS.
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Rick Stone

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Back when I was in the throes of traveling the world and teaching folks how to use Adobe Captivate, it was astonishing to me to see how many "home grown" LMS solutions were out there in use.