Writing an effective LMS RFP (Request For Proposal) not only requires a good understanding of your learners’ needs, but also an understanding of LMS capabilities, and an awareness of the eLearning market. With so much to consider in terms of content and objectives, the process of actually designing and writing your RFP can become overwhelming. This article will cover how to start developing a solid foundation for your RFP, but you can find our in-depth webinar covering the best practices for your RFP if you are keen on the world’s most popular open source LMS.
Before undertaking an analysis of LMS platforms or vendors, the most important, fundamental requirement of an RFP is to accurately define your needs. Without a clear understanding of what you hope to gain from acquiring a new LMS, the process of selecting a provider becomes more difficult, the closer you come to making a selection.
Knowing your learning needs, especially your longer-term learning goals, is no easy task. But reaching out to educators, management, and learners themselves can help to form a picture of your current gaps in resources and skills. LMS providers can also aid this discussion, by highlighting how various LMS capabilities apply to your training programs. Whether it’s a specific kind of learner discussion forum or the ability to conduct fine-grain reporting, it’s worth taking the time to perform an assessment of which training needs are the biggest priority. Discover more about The Most Beneficial Learning Metrics for eLearning and Why You Should Track Them from this article.
2. Be clear on how an LMS will meet your objectives
Once you’ve assessed your requirements of an LMS, the next logical stage of writing an RFP is to run a detailed checklist of the capabilities and services you’re looking for, against what the various LMS providers can offer (for information on what LMS is all about, read our article What is LMS (Learning Management System)?) It can be easier, and more efficient, to begin by discounting options that you don’t feel meet your needs. Is an LMS a proprietary system, when you’re looking for a cloud-based, open source LMS? Do you need a high degree of UI customizability? Discounting vendors that can’t meet your requirements allows you to get down to the more important business of deciding between viable options.
3. Know your plugins
A critical aspect of writing an LMS RFP is understanding the potential of an LMS. With over 950 plugins available worldwide for Moodle systems, productivity and ROI can be dramatically increased through the appropriate choice of the right plugin for your needs. Popular Moodle plugins (read our article on Top 5 Moodle Plugins to Boost Your Online Training Productivity) include those that aid grading, attendance, completion and re-engagement. But whatever plugins you decide to incorporate, ensure they are community, developer, and partner vetted. When writing your RFP, make space for discussion about how you will tailor your choice of LMS to achieve the greatest ROI.
4. Think about future LMS uses as well as current needs
Any good RFP will seek to represent an organization’s current training needs, while at the same time looking beyond, to how a learning solution will enhance future training possibilities. This means that your LMS RFP should be positioned as a forward-looking document. For example, while both a self-hosted and cloud-hosted LMS might offer equal capabilities in the short term, which will best support your training programs as they expand or become more personalized?
It’s also worth considering your current learning solutions. If you are already an LMS user, hard requirements of your RFP may be determined by the need to migrate from your previous system. Ask detailed questions of LMS vendors regarding the assistance they can provide in any transition plans.
5. Read up on case studies
Sometimes the best way to begin the process of writing an RFP is to see how similar organizations have implemented learning solutions. Case studies are a great way of sourcing information, allowing you to assess concrete examples of LMS capabilities in action. This may be the most immediate indication of LMS suitability. As long as case studies are recent, relevant, and detailed, they provide evidence to shareholders and management that training goals and LMS requirements you’ve set out in your RFP are worthwhile and valuable.
Like any RFP, the more specific you can make your requirements, the more informative your results will be. To maximize the value of the RFP writing process, take a look at our free webinar on the 7 best practices for your LMS RFP. We cover how to meet project requirements, hosting requirements for a secure cloud hosting environment, frequently asked questions, LMS implementation tips from leading organizations, and more.
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