Niall at NetDimensions Insights wrote up two nice pieces pointing out a few ways that people seeking a learning management system can use low-cost tools to compare the different offerings out there. He mentioned both the Brandon Hall feature comparison document as well as the LMS RFI templates that Technology Evaluation Centers offers–this is what caught my attention. Niall comments that
Use of this template does not mean that you do not need to perform a thorough analysis of your organization’s learning management requirements. Each organization will have a unique set of requirements and you should ensure that any additional requirements identified are added to the template.
That’s exactly it too. Templates like those can be helpful to research functional requirements/support requirements, and ultimately toward soliciting proposals, but any spreadsheet-esque comparison grid will only do so much when it comes to analysis.
In any case, I wanted to respond by pointing out another inexpensive tool a potential LMS purchaser could use, which is TEC’s online LMS evaluation tool. It has the same hierarchy of criteria as the spreadsheet, except it lets you prioritize those criteria based on your organization’s learning requirements (and can include additional custom criteria). Then it analyzes your priorities to figure out which vendors match your requirements (of course it uses rated vendor responses to all those criteria to do this). I think this supports, at least in part, Niall’s recommendation for a thorough analysis.