What is a Learning Management System | LMS Overview (2023)

How Learning Management Systems Can Be Beneficial For Your Business

Organizational leaders have realized that in order to sustain a more knowledgeable and productive workforce, employee learning must be an ongoing focus.

Choosing the right learning management system (LMS) can help achieve this goal. There are certain benefits and features that an LMS can offer that will make corporate learning more effective.


  • What is a Learning Management System?
  • Types of Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • Key LMS benefits
  • LMS Features
  • LMS applications for employee learning and development
  • How to select the best LMS for your organization?

What is a Learning Management System?

A learning management system (LMS) is a software that is designed specifically to create, distribute, and manage the delivery of educational content. The LMS can be hosted as a stand-alone product on the company server, or it can be a cloud-based platform that is hosted by the software firm.

Think of a learning management system as technology that can improve learning, make it faster, productive, cost-effective, and what is more important – trackable.

The most basic LMS contains a core functional platform that enables administrators to upload learning content, deliver lessons to employees, serving notifications, and share data with authorized users.

An LMS most often operates inside of a web-browser, behind a secure sign-on process. This gives all learners and instructors easy access to courses on-the-go, while administrators and leaders can monitor learner progress and make improvements.

Types of Learning Management Systems (LMS)

There are several types of learning management systems that organizations can choose from, check the comparison list:

1. Enterprise vs. Individual
2. Free vs. Commercial
3. SaaS vs. Licensed Product
4. Cloud-based vs. On-premise
5. Integrated
6. Built-in Authoring Tools or Pre-Written CMS

What is a Learning Management System | LMS Overview (1)

Key Benefits of Learning Management Systems for Your Business

There are generally several layers of LMS use within businesses, including: employee onboarding and job training, customer education, and professional leadership development.

All of these areas may approach the use of the LMS in a unique way, with courses and learning content design aimed at each group.

What is a Learning Management System | LMS Overview (2)

As a whole, learning management systems help to streamline learning activities in any organization.

These benefits can significantly enhance employee performance, streamline training processes, and promote a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization. Some of the key benefits include:

1. Centralized learning

An LMS provides a centralized platform for managing and delivering training content, making it easy for employees to access the resources they need, and for administrators to manage course materials and track learner progress.

2. Cost-effectiveness

Implementing an LMS can help businesses reduce training costs by eliminating the need for printed materials, venue rentals, and instructor fees associated with traditional face-to-face training. Additionally, it allows for easy updating and modification of training content, reducing the costs of ongoing maintenance.

3. Time savings

LMS software enables employees to learn at their own pace, from anywhere and at any time, reducing the time spent on scheduling and coordinating in-person training sessions. This flexibility allows employees to engage in training activities without disrupting their regular work schedules.

4. Consistent and standardized training

An LMS ensures that all employees receive consistent and standardized training, regardless of their location or job role. This helps maintain a high level of quality and compliance across the organization.

5. Personalized learning experiences

LMS software allows for personalized learning paths and content recommendations, ensuring that employees focus on the most relevant and impactful training for their needs. This tailored approach can lead to better engagement and improved learning outcomes.

6. Tracking and reporting

LMS platforms offer robust tracking and reporting tools that enable businesses to monitor employee progress, assess the effectiveness of training programs, and identify areas for improvement. These insights can help organizations make informed decisions about their learning and development initiatives.

7. Improved employee performance and productivity

By providing employees with the necessary skills and knowledge, LMS software can lead to improved job performance and increased productivity. Well-trained employees are more likely to feel confident in their abilities, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and retention.

8. Regulatory compliance

Many industries require businesses to provide specific training for employees to comply with regulations, such as workplace safety or data protection. An LMS can help manage and track the completion of these training modules, ensuring all employees meet the necessary requirements.

9. Scalability

LMS software can easily scale to accommodate business growth, making it simple to add new courses, users, or even expand training programs to additional departments or locations.

10. Encouraging a learning culture

Implementing an LMS can help promote a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization. This fosters a growth mindset among employees, encouraging them to seek out new opportunities for professional growth and skill development.

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Lori Niles, NilesNolen

LMS Features

In most cases, organizations use an LMS system to facilitate access to learning materials that range from written materials and presentations to videos and interactive lessons.

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Here are some of the LMS primary functions and supporting features

The following list should provide a clearer structure of primary LMS functions along with the features that support them.

Keep in mind that different LMS platforms may offer varying sets of features, so it’s essential to evaluate each platform based on your organization’s specific needs and requirements.

1. Course creation and management: LMSs allow administrators or instructors to create, edit, and manage course content, including multimedia materials like text, images, videos, and audio.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Multimedia content support (text, images, videos, audio)
  • Course templates
  • Content import/export (SCORM, xAPI, IMS Common Cartridge)
  • Content organization and categorization
  • Course versioning and archiving

Check out Content Authoring tool from Valamis

2. Course delivery: LMSs enable the delivery of online courses, providing employees with access to learning materials and interactive features like quizzes, assignments, and discussion forums.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Responsive design for various devices (desktop, mobile, tablet)
  • Offline access to course content
  • Guided learning paths
  • Adaptive learning and content recommendations

Learn more about Learning paths feature that Valamis can offer

3. User management: Administrators can manage users (learners, instructors, and other staff) by creating accounts, assigning roles, and granting permissions. This feature enables the tracking of user progress and performance.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Account creation, modification, and deletion
  • Role assignment and permissions management
  • Bulk user import and group management
  • Password management and security options

4. Enrollment and registration: LMSs streamline the process of enrolling learners in courses and tracking their registration information.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Course enrollment and waiting list management
  • Registration details and tracking
  • Automated notifications and reminders
  • Self-enrollment options

5. Assessment and evaluation: LMSs offer built-in assessment tools, such as quizzes, tests, and assignments, to gauge learners’ understanding of the course material. Instructors can track learner progress and provide feedback on their performance.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Built-in quizzes, tests, and assignments
  • Automated grading for objective assessments
  • Feedback tools for subjective assessments (essays, projects)
  • Rubrics and scoring guidelines

6. Communication and collaboration: LMSs facilitate communication between learners and instructors, as well as peer-to-peer interaction, through tools like discussion forums, messaging systems, and chat features.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Discussion forums
  • Messaging systems and chat features
  • File sharing and collaboration tools
  • Integration with video conferencing platforms
  • Event management and scheduling capabilities

7. Tracking and reporting: LMSs track various aspects of learner progress, such as course completion, grades, and time spent on tasks. Administrators and instructors can generate reports to evaluate the effectiveness of the training programs and identify areas for improvement.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Learner progress monitoring
  • Customizable reports and analytics
  • Experience API (Tin Can API)
  • Data export options (CSV, Excel, PDF)
  • Visualizations and dashboards

8. Integration with other tools: LMSs can often integrate with third-party applications, such as video conferencing tools, content repositories, and CRM or HR systems, to enhance their functionality.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Third-party tool integration
  • API access for custom integrations and extensions
  • Single sign-on (SSO) and authentication options

9. Customization and branding: Many LMSs allow organizations to customize the look and feel of the platform to match their branding and create a unique learning environment.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Customizable themes and appearance
  • Logo and branding elements
  • Configurable navigation and menus

10. Mobile learning: Many LMSs are optimized for mobile devices, enabling learners to access course content and engage with their peers and instructors from smartphones and tablets.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Responsive design for mobile devices
  • Mobile app support (iOS, Android)
  • Offline access to course content

11. Multi-language and accessibility: The ability to offer courses and interface elements in multiple languages.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Multiple language support for courses and interface elements
  • Compliance with accessibility standards
  • Alternative content formats (audio descriptions, transcripts)

12. Security and data protection: Features to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of user data, including encryption, authentication, and backup options.

Supporting LMS features:

  • Encryption and authentication
  • Regular backups and data recovery options
  • Compliance with data protection regulations (GDPR, FERPA)

This is not an exhaustive list of the many features that a LMS can offer your organization.

Valamis is a versatile learning platform that offers a wide range of features to enhance your e-learning experience. To get a better understanding of how Valamis can work for you, feel free to explore its capabilities here.

I’ve gotten to know Valamis for about two or three years now, and I’ve been really impressed with the company’s strategic focus on the entire solution, its ability to provide consulting, and the end-to-end platform that Valamis has built.

– Josh Bersin, Global Research Analyst, Public Speaker, and Advisor

A modern LMS helps to make learning interesting, engaging learners so they take a more active role in their own development. An LMS should be simple to access and use in order to encourage learners to participate. The design of the LMS should be friendly in appearance and functionality – based on user requirements.

Using an LMS for Employee Learning and Development

Considering the comprehensive range of functions, features, and benefits that Learning Management Systems (LMS) offer, it is now appropriate to explore specific use cases and applications to understand how an LMS can be effectively employed within your organization.

Each business will have different objectives and reasons for choosing an LMS system for internal training.

There are generally several layers of LMS use within businesses, including: employee onboarding and job training, customer education, and professional leadership development.

All of these areas may approach the use of the LMS in a unique way, with courses and learning content design aimed at each group.

Here’s how an LMS can be applied to support employee learning and development

What is a Learning Management System | LMS Overview (5)

Onboarding and orientation

An LMS can be used to deliver onboarding and orientation materials to new employees, familiarizing them with company policies, procedures, and culture. This helps ensure a smooth and consistent onboarding experience.

Skill development and training

LMSs can host a variety of courses and training materials tailored to an organization’s specific needs. Employees can access these resources to develop their skills, improve their job performance, and stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices.

Compliance training

Organizations often need to provide mandatory compliance training to their employees, such as workplace safety, anti-harassment, and data privacy. An LMS can help manage and track the completion of these training modules, ensuring all employees meet regulatory requirements.

Performance management

Instructors and managers can use the LMS to track employee progress and performance in training programs, identifying areas where employees may need additional support or coaching.

Career development

An LMS can be used to support employee career development by offering resources and courses related to specific career paths, enabling employees to acquire new skills and qualifications that support their career growth within the organization.

Collaboration and knowledge sharing

An LMS can facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing among employees through discussion forums, chat features, and other communication tools. This helps create a culture of continuous learning and knowledge exchange.

Personalized learning

LMSs often include features that allow for personalized learning experiences, such as adaptive learning paths and recommendations based on individual preferences and performance. This ensures that employees can focus on the most relevant and impactful training for their needs.

Analytics and reporting

An LMS can provide valuable insights into employee learning and development through analytics and reporting. This data can be used to assess the effectiveness of training programs and make informed decisions about future initiatives.

Time and cost savings

By providing a centralized platform for delivering and managing training materials, an LMS can help organizations save time and resources on employee learning and development compared to traditional face-to-face training methods.

Remote and mobile access

LMSs that are optimized for mobile devices enable employees to access learning materials from anywhere, at any time, making it easier for them to fit professional development into their schedules.

Implementing an LMS for employee learning and development can lead to a more knowledgeable, skilled, and engaged workforce, ultimately resulting in increased productivity, innovation, and overall organizational success.

How to Select the Best LMS for Your Organization?

Now that you have a good overview of what a learning management system is and the various benefits and features offered, it’s important to understand how to choose the best LMS for your organizational purposes.

#1 Measurable results

Investing in a learning management software for your organization often comes down to how quickly you can measure real results. If it’s for business purposes, for example to train employees, being able to quickly and effectively produce high levels of proficiency matters.

These results should be displayed for users (as in completion rates, steps towards goals) as well as administrators in terms of completed modules, scores, and the connection to corporate objectives.

#2 Accessibility and User-friendly Design

A major issue that can make or break a learning management system is when there are accessibility issues for users. The sign-on process should be simple and secure. The home screen should be intuitive and include the information that a user needs to start completing courses.

In addition, tools such as AI and chatbots can enable learners to search for and find new course suggestions matched to their interests. This is especially important when working with younger people or multi-generational learners who may not be accustomed to the latest formats.

Fonts and layout of content should be in a user-friendly design, and all text needs to be translatable to other language types and 508 compliant.

#3 Adaptability

Today, learners need to be able to take their learning on-the-go. Therefore a multi-device LMS can ensure that learners can access their courses and pick up where they’ve left off anytime it suits them.

With a vast majority of the population accessing the Internet via mobile devices now worldwide, the LMS you choose must be able to work well on a variety of operational systems, browsers, and screen sizes.

#4 Secure data management

When an organization wants to develop and manage courses, a secure LMS platform is a must. Not only is course data proprietary in nature, but the information of all users needs to be protected.

Only select an LMS that has a single sign-on process (SSO) and maintains information behind added layers of security linked to user privileges. This is especially important when using a cloud-based server to house data.

#5 Support response and training

Before deciding on the best LMS for your organization, consider that there will be times when live customer support will be needed. This often happens during implementation and integration phases, but it can arise anytime.

New users will also need access to tutorials on how to use the learning management product.

Ask about support for after hours for those who may be using it in other time zones.

Final Thoughts on LMS

Evaluating an LMS takes deep analysis of all the features and benefits each one provides. This is a difficult decision because it’s something that will require a long term commitment.

Look for an LMS that is built with the future in mind.

This should be evident from reading through the description of the product, and learning more about the company and where it’s headed.

Gather information from client testimonials as well as awards that the company has received.

Find out what the leadership team’s background is and what they are passionate about in the learning industry.

All of the above information should help you make a case for selecting and investing in a reputable learning management system for your organization’s needs.

Next steps:

  1. If you are unsure about whether you are ready to invest in an LMS, check out our comprehensive checklist on Assessing Readiness for Corporate Learning Solutions.
  2. If you are in the process of selecting the right vendor, you can download an RFP template for this purpose.
  3. If you are seeking a reliable partner in learning, explore what Valamis can offer you.
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