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How to Organize Safe and Successful LMS Migration?

lms migration

SUMMARY

  • The LMS market is thriving, with a CAGR of 21.13%
  • Reasons for migration include a poor user interface, unsatisfactory customer support, high costs, shallow analytics, and the inability to scale
  • Challenges of migration include change aversion, cost, communication, and bandwidth
  • There are two kinds of LMS you can get: ready-made or custom developed. Ready-made ones are great for budget and time constraints, while custom-made ones can better align with your business processes.
  • Before switching over to a new LMS, be sure to run a pilot project to hammer out any issues.

Digital transformation in education is growing, the Learning Management System market is alive and thriving, – mainly due to increasing enterprise mobility, a rising emphasis on continuous learning, and astounding innovation in eLearning tools. In fact, the global market of LMS is anticipated to reach $29.9 billion by 2025, with a 21.13% Compound Annual Growth Rate. 

With such heavy market competition, more organizations than ever are releasing state-of-the-art learning management systems. You have a wealth of options, and there’s no need to settle for the same old LMS you’ve been using for years. Customers are taking note of this: 44% of organizations are not satisfied with their current LMS, and 48% of organizations are keeping their options open and exploring various learning technologies. So, if your current LMS isn’t meeting your needs, it might be time to migrate. 

But wait! Migrating from one LMS to another is scary, isn’t it? What if you lose data? Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a bit of preparation, you can ensure a safe and successful LMS migration. Today, we’ll walk you through the migration process, show you how to choose a new LMS, and help you draft a project plan. Let’s get started!

5 Reasons to Conduct LMS Migration

There are many reasons why you might want to change to a new learning management system. Some common reasons of dissatisfaction with a current LMS include:

1. Difficult to use/poorly designed user interface. An LMS needs to be well designed and aesthetically pleasing in order to capture a learner’s interest. In addition to that, the system needs to be easy to navigate. Developers and trainees must be able to quickly find the modules, information, or reference points they’re looking for. Intuitiveness is key: if your learners are frustratedly navigating a clunky system, it might be time to migrate. 

2. Unsatisfactory customer support. Great learning management systems will include an auto-responder for nights and weekends, walking your learners through issues when no support representatives are online. Subpar systems, on the other hand, might have delayed responses, condescending tech support, and the inability to solve mistakes. Often, learners will experience simple errors – perhaps they have forgotten their login credentials or are having authentication issues. However, they also might be lost within the system and not know exactly what to ask. Systems with the best customer support will dedicate extra care to helping non-tech-savvy customers. 

3. Too expensive. Even if it seems like you’re getting an LMS at a bargain, don’t forget about the maintenance costs. What’s more, you have to consider the costs of a cloud-based LMS versus a self-hosted one. Calculating the true cost of an LMS is complex – besides annual licensing fees and setup fees, you also have to spend time training staff on using the LMS and hiring in-house developers to create new content. Some LMS, though, include staff training as part of their services, which can really help save on costs.  

4. Shallow analytics and reporting. Analytics of an LMS could range from preferred study times and the speed of course completion to drop-off rates and test scores. You need an LMS that provides all of your desired metrics and reporting functions. This isn’t something to skimp on; if you are using an LMS to run online training, its reporting shows whether or not your efforts are succeeding. Without concrete numbers in hand, you won’t be able to justify a learning project. 

5. Inability to Scale. You need a learning management system that grows with you. If your current LMS doesn’t scale to meet your evolving requirements, you will quickly outgrow it. Some examples include an organization needing extra features added to the LMS, or perhaps they are expanding their workforce and need a system that can take on more users each month. Your system should stand the test of time and should have upgrading options.

Want an LMS that grows with your organization? Learn more about our scalable solutions.

The Main Challenges of LMS Data Migration

Now that you know why so many organizations are dissatisfied why their current LMS, it’s time to dissect the challenges of migration. 

Challenge 1: Change Aversion

Fearing change is completely valid and natural. Some employees may enthusiastically embrace the migration to a new LMS, but others will likely resist. LMS managers need to sharpen their change management skills in order to stay aligned with the organizational agenda – and simultaneously overcome resistance. 

The most effect way to mitigate the fear of change is transparency. Make several communication channels available to your employees, such as an up-to-date FAQ section, a user feedback area, and perhaps a series of webinars that show demos of the new system. 

Challenge 2: Cost

You will likely have to put down a significant investment for a new LMS, even if you’re using an open-source platform. Controlling costs is a glob concern, no matter the organization. The best practice for controlling costs is ensuring that everybody is in agreement on requirements and business processes before going deep into customization and integration. 

When you’re exploring potential systems, ask the vendor to inform you when a demo feature comes at an additional cost. If the features you like are “a la carte,” you’ll find that costs add up very quickly. Ensure that everything is itemized on the contract – this includes any discounts. Check for ad hoc and miscellaneous fees, and try to secure a contingency budget to cover unforeseen expenses during implementation.

Challenge 3: Communication

When you’re migrating to a new LMS, misunderstandings might occur between you and the vendor – and the best remedy is communication. The average LMS is highly configurable, customizable, and integrable with other kinds of systems. In order to maximize the success of implementation, the project team must communicate about business processes and how the LMS can best streamline them. If an organization doesn’t spend enough time making complex technical decisions, the vendor will have to make guesses about what meets the client’s needs – which could lead to an unsatisfactory end product. There should be weekly meetings, at a minimum, to care of such issues. 

Challenge 4: Bandwidth

Modern organizations often run lean, which makes it necessary for individuals to manage various projects and priorities simultaneously. It is common for people to take on too much and regret it afterward. But during an LMS transition, it is essential for you to know all team members can adhere to the workload and time commitments, completing the project on time and under budget constraints. Before you begin the migration, make sure the project’s team has the bandwidth to see things through. 

Choose a New LMS

Ready-Made Solution

A ready-made learning management system is a good choice for organizations with less specific needs and a more constrained budget. It’s also great for companies that are short on time. Here you can find out the best E-learning platforms

Out-of-the-box solutions need less time to get up and running, and they require just a fraction of staff resources as compared to custom solutions. 

Pros: 

- Less expensive than a custom solution

- Quicker implementation

- Tested by other users; plenty of reviews are available

- Some systems are made for certain industries

Cons: 

- Little to no customization

- Adding new users may be expensive

- May lack features you need

- May have features you don’t need

- If the system changes, you will have to adapt 

Custom Development

By choosing a custom-made LMS, an organization is able to adjust the software in accordance with its business processes and requirements. This type of solution allows for full customization of the look and feel, plus you can add on extra integrations, capabilities, and functionalities. 

Pros:

- Totally customizable

- You just pay for what you need

- No need to compromise

- The solution can grow with your organization

Cons: 

- A bigger financial commitment

- You may need to train staff or hire new people

- You are responsible for improvements and management

In our special article, we share a full guide on how to create a learning management system from scratch.

Want to create a unique LMS that is aligned with your business processes? Get in touch.

Draft an LMS Migration Project Plan

There are three main steps to drafting an LMS migration project plan: backup, revision, and migration pipeline. 

1. Backup. Make copies of all data from your current LMS in case something goes wrong. 

2. Revision. You likely won’t need to take everything with you to your new system. Determine what can be “thrown away” or archived. To get started, you’ll need to list all materials and data, including (1) users – employees, administrators, and trainers, (2) content – courses, training programs, files, external libraries, (3) statistics – certificates, test and course results, achievements, and activity history. Determine which data could be exported via CSV and Excel files, and which ones need to transfer to the new system. 

3. Migration pipeline. Once you’ve decided what content needs to be transferred, it’s time to make a pipeline. Write down your plan for migration and work out the budget and deadlines. We recommend launching a pilot project in one of your departments, so you can give the new platform a test drive. 

Launch a Pilot Project Before Migrating the Learning Management System

Rather than transferring over all the content to the new system at once and turning off access to the old platform, considering setting up a “test group” of users. For instance, you might transfer only the sales department’s content, train them, and invite some sales employees to take courses. This way, you can get preliminary results much faster. 

This kind of soft launch enables you to get feedback, eliminate errors early on, and make a final choice on the LMS. With the test run, you’ll be able to determine whether trainers, users, and administrators can comfortably use the new platform. 

Within 1 month, a pilot project enables you to try out all training scenarios and determine if any programs or system settings need to be fine-tuned. And if you had great results during the pilot project, you can move on to a step-by-step system migration, which we will address next.

Process of LMS Migration

LMS data migration can be a lot of work, but the benefits a new system brings will likely outweigh the time and resources of transferring. There are six steps to the LMS migration process, which are as follows:

Step 1: Data Cleanup

Don’t waste space transferring over obsolete files. Spend time categorizing your existing data, and make a note of any duplicate accounts or files, irrelevant descriptive course data, and outdated user information. By deleting this unnecessary information, you will cut down on the troubleshooting needed for the new LMS, as only the updated data will be present. By “cleaning house,” the transition will be much smoother. 

And if you’re worried that some of the data could be useful later on, simply archive it in spreadsheets. Create lists of all the courses and their administrators, and pass the lists along to each respective admin. The admins can review the old system’s data and categorize information into active and archivable.

LMS migration data

Step 2: Set Deadlines and Milestones

The key to this step is setting realistic deadlines. They need to act as motivators for team members to work efficiently and in continuity. While it will be nearly impossible to determine the exact dates for points of the migration process, you just need to make a realistic timeline that has estimates for each task. Meet with your migration teams and figure out which sub-tasks are involved, as well as how much time they require. Leave a little bit of wiggle room for unforeseen delays, and make sure to press the importance of communication. If the team sees issues with deadlines, they should be encouraged to voice their concerns. 

Example of a milestone and deadline: The IT department needs to install the LMS system and remedy any glitches by the end of the first week.

Step 3: Map Out Features

It’s essential to know which features must be transferred from the old LMS to the new one. In this step, you’ll examine how the two systems overlap and how they differ. By analyzing features of the old system, you’ll know which ones are relevant to your demands. This “feature mapping” process helps you determine how the new LMS matches your requirements, and you can present the vendor with requests for add-ons, if necessary. 

Step 4: Quality Checks

Once the data is organized and transferred to the new system, it’s time to do a quality check. Review the new LMS’s workflow and ensure all the required data is in place. Main areas of quality checks include scalability, course completion tracking, user enrollment, and mobile compatibility. 

Step 5: Test Run

Before you switch over to the new LMS, carry out a test run or pilot project. Some priority areas to test include:

- Course tracking: Does the system track progress and provide training reports?

- Mobile compatibility: Can learners access the courses from mobile devices without issues?

- Functionality of course apps: Can learners download course content from the new system and track performance?

- Bookmarking: Can the system bookmark where the learner last left off, and can the learner resume in that same spot when they next log in?

Step 6: Educate Staff

To avoid any transitional problems, train stakeholders and administrators on how to operate the new system. Staff who manage the LMS, as well as learners, need to be shown what areas change and how the differences are beneficial. Throughout data migration, keep end-users, admins, and stakeholders informed about the launch date.

Testing and Analytics After the LMS Data Migration Ends

To enhance learner satisfaction, it is necessary to carry out acceptance testing. This kind of assessment helps you check whether the new LMS matches your expectations and delivers a good learner experience. Some examples of this kind of testing include:

  • Localization: If the LMS needs to be provided in multiple languages, verify that all languages are correctly translated. 
  • Stress testing: It shows how the LMS performs when a high number of active users are online. 
  • Multi-device testing: Check how the LMS performs on each type of device. Make sure to try it on touchscreen devices so you can see how the screen behaves during user interaction. 

When testing how users interact with the system, it can help to ask for feedback. Here are some questions to include: 

  • Did you experience technical issues?
  • Could you easily find the information you needed?
  • Is it clear what you are being asked to do?

Consider engagement analytics, as well. These metrics will give you an idea of whether the new LMS is holding the attention of users:

  • Time spent on page
  • Popularity of certain pages
  • Where the LMS is being accessed from

Our Expertise in LMS Migration

At HuskyJam, we make LMS migration easy. Our organization specializes in website and mobile application development; we apply the experience of 200+ completed projects in order to create the perfect learning management system for you. We work for the customer and strive for free-flow communication, transparency, close collaboration, and insight sharing.

Are you ready for us to help you build an effective LMS that grows with your organization? Let’s get started.

Conclusion

Learning management systems are the quintessential tools of eLearning, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A custom-made LMS fills the gaps between what you need and what your current system provides. By following the above steps, you can create a data migration plan, ensuring a smooth transition to your new learning management system.

By exploring your options, mapping features, and conducting acceptance assessments, you can implement an LMS that aligns with your business processes and is highly scalable. We’d love to help you get started on this journey! 

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