Why Your Business Needs an Extended Enterprise LMS
Before choosing an extended enterprise LMS, you must factor in the needs of your vendors, employees, and customers. In this article we explore issues unique to an extended enterprise LMS, discuss how such an LMS can benefit your organization, and recommend what you need to look out for in the platform as well as what you need to know in order to make your decision.
What Is an Extended Enterprise LMS?
An extended enterprise learning management system (LMS) is a platform that enables organizations to manage, deliver, and track learning and development programs beyond the traditional boundaries of the enterprise. This type of LMS expands the reach of learning initiatives to include partners, suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders who may not be employees of the organization.
An extended enterprise LMS can help organizations to:
- Foster collaboration and knowledge sharing across the extended enterprise
- Ensure consistent training and development of partners, suppliers, and customers
- Improve the overall quality and effectiveness of products and services through training and development
- Increase the reach of learning initiatives to a larger audience
- Foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement across the extended enterprise
Overall, an extended enterprise LMS helps organizations to create a more connected and engaged extended enterprise, which can lead to increased efficiency, better quality, improved business outcomes, while potentially creating an additional stream of revenue.
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How Can Extended Enterprise Training Benefit Your Business?
Extended enterprise learning is an excellent way to improve brand interaction between your business, distribution partners, sales representatives, franchisees, and even your customers.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of having an active and impactful extended enterprise training program.
- Create a stronger brand – Providing your extended network with information about your products or services can strengthen your brand and bolster your company's image.
- Improve training outcomes and ROI – Just as training your employees on your services and products can improve their performance and productivity, the same can be said about your extended enterprise. Distributors and franchisees who know more about your products know how best to sell them.
- Reduce risk – An extended enterprise learning solution can lower your risks by providing vendors and suppliers with information on how to use your products the right way and understand your business needs and goals.
- Boost client retention – It's essential for customers to understand how to properly utilize your product. Having knowledgeable clients makes for happy clients that stay longer.
What Is the Role of an LMS in Your Extended Enterprise Learning?
An LMS is a crucial tool in your extended enterprise training program and plays various roles in rolling out, managing, and streamlining the courses and other resources that are essential to your desired learning outcomes.
Here are three ways an LMS can help:
Depending on your business structure and the extended parties you want to reach out to with your training, you might need to cluster the learning content into specific categories or programs to ensure each audience accesses the most appropriate information.
What's more, you want to separate your employee training from the extended enterprise, and a multi-tenant LMS can help you organize and disseminate training courses to the right learners.
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2) Content management
Delivering training materials to multiple audiences calls for effective management and delivery of learning content. A corporate LMS should have a simple layout that you can use to structure your content and deliver to certain audiences based on organizational hierarchies or other categorizing factors.
To make content management even easier, most systems will allow you to apply different user roles within the platform, including:
This functionality helps you to implement the course and manage content with ease.
3) Learner Engagement
An LMS hosts and tracks online learning. It's a virtual hub where training is made possible for remote learners, similar to an online class. What's more, you can integrate the learning platform with email, or Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and other systems to make learning and training as holistic, seamless, and practical as possible.
Using an LMS, learners connect with peers or trainers using chat features or forums. Additionally, Single Sign-On (SSO) functionality can be configured to allow learners to easily access the platform across multiple devices using credentials they may already use.
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3 Considerations When Choosing an Extended Enterprise LMS
Now that you know the critical role your LMS will play in your extended enterprise learning program, it's time to look at the factors you need to consider to ensure you choose the right LMS to meet your company’s specific goals.
1) Plan and Evaluate Your Course Needs
One of the ways you can improve your extended enterprise training program is by using an LMS to facilitate convenient and engaging eLearning. However, before your business can reap the benefits associated with extended enterprise learning, you must carefully plan and evaluate your course and learner needs.
Many businesses might be tempted to purchase software and then build out their learning programs. But the only way to make sure your platform will really work for your business is to determine the precise goals you have for your extended enterprise training before you begin evaluating solutions.
2) Define Your 'Extended Enterprise'
Different LMSs have different capabilities, and one way to identify which platform might be best suited for your needs is to begin by determining who your targeted learners are. Are you just training customers? Vendors? Distributors? Or would you like to provide training for all of these audiences within the same platform?
Depending on your target audience, the functions and technology needed to reach your training goals will differ. In this case, you would need to consider if it's important for your LMS to support multi-tenancy to house all training for all audiences on one platform or if you’d prefer to have separate platforms for each audience.
3) Open-Source or Closed-Source LMS
The technology that your LMS uses is also important. You will need to decide whether you want a closed-source or open-source LMS for your extended enterprise.
A closed-source option offers an out-of-the-box eLearning platform which often comes with limitations on functionality and technology. On the other hand, an open-source LMS like Moodle™, Open LMS Work, or Totara Learn is more flexible and is designed to optimize the learning experience with the ability to incorporate third-party solutions and plugins to make training and learning more accessible and scalable.
Functions and Features to Look for in Your LMS Solution
While the general purpose of most LMSs may be the same, the features and functionality that any given solution offers will vary widely. Some key questions you should be asking about your LMS include:
- Is it mobile-friendly? This is particularly important if you’re focusing your training on vendors and distributors who intend to take courses on the go.
- Does it have reporting and tracking functions? Using the built-in reporting and analytics within your LMS, can you get valuable insight into learner engagement, training assessment outcomes, and general performance?
- Does it offer brand integrations? You should be able to integrate your logo, color scheme, and other elements of your brand into your learning interface for a personalized learning experience.
- Will your data be secure? Your LMS should have data encryption and password protection features as a minimum. The more security features the better, especially when your learners have the ability to access the system from anywhere in the world.
- Is the interface user-friendly? This is arguably the most vital feature to have on an LMS. If the learners have a smooth and trouble-free experience using the system, they’re more likely to take courses, interact with resources, and retain the information they’ve learned.
In addition to the features above and depending on your specific requirements, you can also check for additional specialist features such as eCommerce, and social learning.
Having a broad range of training resources is just one part of providing your partners, customers, or other members of your extended enterprise with the right tools and information. An extended enterprise LMS will make it easy to deliver the information needed by each type of learner and track progress through the training. As such, you should take your time to identify the LMS that will help your learners make the most out of your eLearning courses.
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Real-World Examples of Successful Extended Enterprise LMS Deployments
Dircom and Open LMS: The Ideal Partnership for Corporate Communication Professionals
Every organization sets out to attain the goal of training the best possible team of professionals. To do so, they must always be at the forefront of trends and the latest learning technologies.
In order to adapt to new teaching processes, Dircom now relies on the solid, reliable, and scalable digital learning platform provided by Open LMS.
How Colombia's Leading Airline Strengthens Its Training Processes Using Open LMS
Companies must use the latest digital tools to build better staff training processes if they want to stay ahead of their competition. Colombian airline Avianca S.A. is proof of this. It has built a digital learning ecosystem based on Open LMS while integrating other technologies such as Blackboard Collaborate and IntelliBoard to meet its asynchronous and synchronous training needs.If you'd like to see the fully-managed LMS solutions we provide for extended enterprise training, request a trial and experience Open LMS first hand.