Beware of “vaporware.” You will recognize this because these guys over indulge in the “gee whiz” of their technology, often promising everything under the sun. You need to be able to walk away from vendors who just enjoy hearing the sound of their own voices. The learning management system or the training software should serve your business and educational needs. If it does not, you are probably headed for disaster and frustration not to mention lost of time and money.

If then the goal of the LMS or training software system, is to serve your business and education needs, does the vendor you are dealing with understand this basic requirement in a fundamental way? Yes the LMS system or training software should be the best in terms of the technology – after all you don’t want a crappy system which breaks down every other day. Having said this, you and your vendor should display an alignment of vision in terms of understanding the business needs, the teaching and learning objectives and methodologies and the design or content creation and management interface that is needed to accomplish your needs.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had to caution potential customers about this one. KNOW THY COSTS — ALL OF THY COSTS. Many organizations have plunged into e-learning and web-based training with a zest not seen since the tech bubble of the 90’s. Don’t get me wrong. This is all so exciting. However, one needs to pause and ask all the right questions. Ask about the costs for setup. How about maintenance and support? Inquire about costs to upgrade or have special features implemented. If the vendor’s pricing is based on usage license, you need to ask about overage charges. Are you charged extra if you decide to create extra classes? These are critical questions you need to ask and get answers before you plow into vendor selection. Trust me, you don’t want any surprises.

Do me a favor and ask your vendor if the system is designed to be run or operated by regular folks…erm I mean educators or only the IT department has the resources and skills to manage your learning management system or training software program? Why you might ask? Because this is a big deal. IT departments are becoming woefully understaffed or even worse outsourced. Do you really want to depend on IT for every single thing you need done in your e-learning software? Another way of looking at this question is. How simple is your training software to operate? If you a PhD in computer science, you are probably not talking with the right vendor.

The last question you might want to consider is support and reliability. Many simply assume this or worse get the standard vendor spin. You need to take the free e-learning software trials some vendors offer and test drive the whole system including the support and technical help functions. If you can’t get support before they have had a chance to take your money, believe me, its going to be a whole lot more difficult after you have paid them. So, do your home work and take the system for a spin. Utilize the phone, fax, email, online support system etc and make sure your vendor has passed the test.

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