Canada Association of Tourism Employees

LMSs Beneath Risk By SUSs: Sustainable Upskilling Options

Warning: Potential hard-to-swallow realities ahead

If 2020 taught any organization, it was fundamental to adapt to disruptions. COVID-19 effectively stopped the world overnight, after which companies had to quickly find creative solutions to many problems, including learning and development. Given the previous, one of the challenges of 2021 (and beyond) is for organizations to improve the sustainability of their learning platforms so that learning and development remain engaging, relevant, quantifiable, and equitable for both learners and their organizations. Sad as it is, it could mark the end of an era for traditional LMS.

Do LMS provide sufficient value?

At the time of writing, there are only just under 600 LMS listed on Let’s say there are around 200 additional systems to choose from, so the total of LMS available is somewhere around the 800 mark. That is considerable compared to other software solutions!

Most of these systems are “traditional” LMS. That means their primary focus is on electronically consolidating and disseminating content to learners along with topline coverage – and that is really the extent of their design envelope. Some LMS may have one feature or the other or the other module that the next one doesn’t. However, all traditional LMS are hampered by the old eLearning standards and architectures that do not allow for detailed measurement or reporting. This, combined with the learning and development requirements specifically tightened by COVID-19, is proving to be insufficient for many companies and, in turn, their LMS value has decreased significantly in a relatively short period of time.

How do “sustainable upskilling solutions” differ?

SUSs offer significantly higher value compared to traditional LMS as they inherit the functionality of the LMS as a whole and also add learning touchpoints that were previously inaccessible, providing a rich learning experience for both the learner and the company becomes.

1. In order to highlight the most important differences, it must first be examined why companies provide a learning platform apart from COVID-19

LMS are used with the aim of distributing multimedia electronic content for consistency, ease of distribution, ease of tracking and reporting (albeit top-line), and cost savings.

SUSs, on the other hand, offer companies a mechanism with which they can easily and sustainably train their entire workforce. This extends to providing a comprehensive blended approach, including measurable and quantifiable video courses, as well as merging with Learner Experience Platforms (LXPs) if required. Ultimately, SUSs are designed to measure the value that training brings to a company. These are usually based on assessment models such as CIPP (context, input, process and product), the Phillips ROI model or the Kirkpatrick training assessment model.

Each model or a combination thereof is directly embedded in a SUS. In the case of the Kirkpatrick model, an LMS can only measure the reaction of the learners (level 1) and the competencies of the learners (level 2), whereas an SUS also measures the change in behavior (level 3), which results in results such as expectations / Investment (level 4) can be calculated.

2. From a system deployment perspective, there are also major differences between LMS and SUS

LMS are most commonly deployed through remotely hosted or on-premise (self-hosted) solutions. With remotely hosted solutions, companies often experience longer provisioning times, manual updates and thus non-synchronized version deployments, as well as limitations in terms of expansion and scalability. On-premise solutions are the responsibility for deployment in the enterprise. This means that they are solely responsible for setup, hosting, access, and security, all of which are not trivial. There are good reasons why companies are turning away from local servers because the approach no longer conforms to best practice standards.

Conversely, SUSs are provided via real multi-tenant cloud solutions, which are often referred to as “Software as a Service” (SaaS). This means that the provider fully manages and maintains the cloud environment. The customer successively benefits from the same real-time and current version. The real advantages of real, modern and multi-tenant cloud solutions are better accessibility, efficiency, scalability, lower costs, improved security as well as data and insights.

3. Most LMS still use older eLearning standards that limit progress and thus limit the value proposition – here, too, SUSs are different

Most LMS are based on “content containers” such as the SCORM, AICC, CMI5 and xAPI standards. These content containers are created using special authoring tools, and all of the content is provided in this container. Content containers have three shortcomings: poor measurability (although “modern” content containers claim otherwise, extractable data remains limited), which also extends to a lack of evaluation options; Costs for the authoring tool; and complexity as well as poor overall user experience. With the latter, long delivery times for content and popups arise.

SUSs, on the other hand, natively support “content containers” in addition to “generic content standards” such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, Adobe PDF, MP4 video, MP3 audio, YouTube, Vimeo and ThingLink, to name a few. This principle ensures that training content is future-proof, real user-friendliness and flexibility, which is expressed in quantifiable data contact points and simple alternatives for creating content. The user experience is enhanced as SUSs deliver content through the same mechanisms used by over-the-top content platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, resulting in lightning-fast content delivery.

4. Reporting is a key element for both LMS and SUS as reports are used to provide feedback to organizations on student progress, performance, engagement and completion rates. Here, too, there are differences between LMS and SUS

Because of the LMS architecture, which is based on content containers (like SCORM) and limits the data that can be extrapolated from the container, reporting is generally very easy and straightforward. More sophisticated LMS allow the user to use report generators. However, these do not offer the flexibility to meet all reporting requirements, e.g. B. Legislative reporting.

SUSs have a much more detailed approach to learning and, as such, reporting. In addition to “standard” reports provided by an LMS, SUSs meet real custom reporting requirements. With SUSs, organizations can access the reporting environment through external gateways, e.g. For example, through an API that an organization can use to create custom reports from all of the data in the SUS. SUSs go one step further and even enable the integration of data from external / third-party systems such as HCM and CRM into the custom reporting environment. This allows the organization to produce real reports that meet all requirements, even complex legislative reports.

5. Functionality is also a key differentiator between LMS and SUS – As mentioned, there are a variety of LMS on the market and while most systems appear to be different, there are many similarities “under the hood” .

Due to the underlying LMS architecture, most systems are limited to the same functionality: disseminating content to learners. This becomes clear when comparing LMS side by side. Some LMS offer additional “functions” such as e-commerce, white labeling and integration, including the configurability of the calendar. However, these elements generally do not make a learning solution more sustainable.

The value proposition of SUSs is usually quite extensive and offers features that are aimed at learner benefit and based on the training assessment models discussed earlier. In addition to the standard LMS functionality, SUSs usually contain a number of learning contact points and inclusion mechanisms such as micro-learning, a knowledge base and numerous gamification options as well as learning facets, e.g. B. comprehensive assessment suites, monitoring, performance management and examination functions as well as perpetual retention of the learning profile, metrics for measuring learner affinity and feedback loops.


When comparing LMS and SUSs not only from the perspective of the learner, but also from the organizational perspective, it becomes clear that SUSs are better suited to deliver a comprehensive value. The question that needs to be asked is whether a traditional LMS will be enough to meet the organization’s current needs, which may have shifted significantly due to COVID-19, let alone those of the future, whatever that may be. Training departments may need to consider spending more time measuring the effectiveness of their training on systems that can handle the task and less time creating content that looks pretty but doesn’t really produce the required results.

To quote the Kirkpatrick partners:

As you already know, training budgets are among the first to be cut during difficult economic times. Whether you are one of the internal survivors or a struggling advisor, you can no longer rely on lofty ideas about continuous learning and employee development. You need to provide compelling evidence that the bottom line is that training produces results.

A SUS reliably delivers this and more.

Post a Comment

You don't have permission to register