Seeing a product in action and trying it yourself are the best ways to get a feel for whether an LMS lives up to the promises made in the marketing material.
The best time for free trials and demo calls is after you have compiled your list of must-have features and shortlisted suitable LMS vendors. Because of the time you will need to commit to these, limit the number of trials and demos to several vendors at the top of your list.
Prepare a spreadsheet so that you can record and compare observations about each LMS from each trial and demo. Score each feature according to its importance so scores for essential features carry the most weight.
Create a sufficient number of dummy users and prepare courses and other content to upload for the free trials so that you can simulate real-life scenarios in your organisation. Make sure you get full access to the system so that you can follow processes through to completion and not have to guess the results.
Ensure that other colleagues who will use the system participate so that you get all their comments and requests before making your purchase decision.
It’s natural to experience some confusion when getting to know a new system so booking a demo call for a few days into your free trial can get you up to speed faster.
Use the demo call as a personalised consultation, asking the vendor to demonstrate the must-have features on your wishlist. Where you’ve started your free trial, ask about any features you don’t understand or which you find cumbersome. Ask any questions you have on any aspect to make best use of the time.
Use the LMS every day during a free trial so it becomes habit and you can assess it as if it were already live. Assess the vendor at the same time, taking note of how their customer support operates, how quick they are to respond and how helpful they are.
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