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Open Supply LMS Drawbacks And Hidden Charges

Open Source LMS: 6 issues that hide behind a free platform

There is a saying: if you enjoy something for free, then you are the product. This even applies to social media users on free platforms. LMS is a company’s digital L&D hub, offering everything from onboarding online training to performance management. Internet users understand that for every item they can buy, there is a free option somewhere. It’s not necessarily pirated, it can be open source code that you can customize to suit your needs. Think of it as couch surfing versus Airbnb, but for programmers. But what are the hidden costs behind an open source LMS? What cons should you consider before making your final decision? Let’s look at 6 open source LMS drawbacks every business should consider.

Top Open Source LMS Cons

1. Hosting

When you buy a pre-built LMS, it is often on the LMS provider’s server. This can be a cloud-based system or physical servers on your premises. Open source LMS usually only exist on the open web. If you download and install them for your organization, you will need to attach them to a hosting service. You can pay a monthly / yearly fee or purchase physical servers to keep in your office. Even if you already have servers, you need to make room for the LMS. This space takes away other services, and while it isn’t a cash cost, it is certainly predictable. It’s also about keeping your data safe. Which is usually done by the SaaS provider.

2 co-workers

Commercial LMS are plug-and-play systems. You install it, log in, and you’re good to go. An open source LMS only offers you the framework. It requires high level coding to configure it for your needs. You have to align it with your devices and merge it with the software you already have. If the LMS replaces your internal platforms, the cost of that previous platform is lost. You need special technicians to get the LMS up and running. You may need to hire a contractor, hire someone full-time, or you may already have the expertise on your IT team. But they still have to leave their standard duties to focus on the new LMS. Hence, the steep learning curve can push an open source LMS straight out of your budget.

3. Compatibility

Keep in mind that an LMS can take months or even years to develop, and that goes for dedicated vendors. Your IT staff who already have other tasks will have to divide up their time. This adds up to many hours of work. In addition, the LMS itself does not have all of your requirements. This can easily be fixed with plug-ins. These are open source functions that run independently of one another. Your coders must therefore optimize them and ensure that they are effective. Sometimes the function of one add-on interferes with another. Because each plug-in was created separately, it may not have been updated. So if the rest of the LMS is updated, your plug-ins will be faulty. There are your tools in place to think about too. Does the new open source LMS fit your current eLearning authoring or CRM tools? Or do you have to pay for a replacement?

4. UX and UI

Commercial developers work in large teams, covering every step of the process. They offer a product that looks great and works well. Open source is exclusively code and only provides the basis for your LMS. You still need to create a “face” for it, with graphic designers and front-end coders. These are not typical employees in most organizations, so you would have to outsource them. As a rule, temporary workers receive a premium payment. You could choose to hire a full-time employee, but it’s still an extra wage. And that salary is certainly more than the cost of buying a packaged LMS. Additionally, you need to consider your audience, not just the team behind the scenes. Can your online learners use the open source LMS to access study materials? Or is the user interface too complicated for the average user?

5. Hardware

Shopping for pre-built LMS solutions is relatively easy. They list your needs, review your budgets, and review the features that you absolutely need. You may want mobile access or offline ease of use. With an open source LMS, getting the code is only the first step. You need to install it on your primary hardware and change it for your employees. You may need to build it into an app which then needs to be configured for different operating systems on the phone. This is a special skill in its own right and is labor intensive. It can easily take six months for the programmer to have time. That’s half a year of work that they have to catch up on. And that doesn’t count the billable lost hours.

6. Lack of support

Most open source LMS do not have advanced support services. In fact, one of the most notable open source LMS drawbacks is that many only contain online FAQs and possibly user communities. This means your team will have to work alone with no LMS provider offering phone or email support. When they run into problems, they need to allocate resources and time to fix the problem as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may have to postpone your start date or, if the issue is serious, reconsider switching platforms.


An open source LMS is touted as the best solution for companies with liquidity constraints. Unfortunately, the cash, time and labor-intensive costs can pile up. Open source platforms require highly skilled developers to make them pretty. Some of the areas that take hundreds of hours include installation, maintenance, and user experience. There are also costs to host, buy, or configure personal devices and update individual plug-ins. Given all the drama, it might be better to invest in an LMS that has already been built and is ready to be deployed. Unless, of course, you already have a dedicated team of IT professionals ready and willing to take on the challenge.

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