20 questions to ask before buying a NFP LMS

Table of Contents

Below you will find 20 questions you can ask any NFP LMS provider to ensure that you are comparing apples-with-apples, identifying your key requirements and clarifying all your potential costs.  

For complete transparency and to assist with your review of Tribal Habits – the leading not-for-profit LMS for Australia and New Zealand – we’ve also answered these questions about our platform.  

1. Is the platform easy to use (or does it require a consultant or L&D experts)? 

This is important as many LMS platforms are designed for ‘enterprise’ organisations that have significant training resources (including large dedicated training teams). For many Australian and New Zealand organisations, that operate with limited training resources, they need a training platform designed for anyone to use – both as a learner but also as a training creator or administrator. A modern, fast and intuitive interface, combined with extensive training, responsive support and detailed support articles, is critical. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits has been designed for anyone to use. We have not-for-profit organisations from 20 employees to 10,000 employees. As an integrated learning platform, there is a single, consistent interface for creating, exploring and managing training.  

2. Does the LMS have a genuine content creation toolset? 

This is important because the creation of training content is the #1 issue for any LMS. Without training content, an LMS is just an empty vessel containing users who have nothing to do. Even if the LMS has a content library (see below), you still need to be able to create your own online content about your organisation’s internal processes, tools and skills. Without any of your own content, your learners are limited to generic training options. 

In addition, be sure to check if the content creation features in the LMS are ‘genuine’. Many older LMS claim to have content creation options, but its very limited – some text and images, a basic quiz and maybe a video. Genuine content creation would include dozens of learning interactions, video hosting, assessment options, task management, document sharing, social learning and more. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits includes a full eLearning authoring toolset. There are over 50 learning interactions, a simple but powerful building block editor, support for social learning (polls, forums, questions, voting), in-built video and document sharing, an entirely guided content creation process and more. 

3. Is it easy to convert existing training materials and content into online learning? 

This is important as the starting point for many not-for-profit organisations is to transform their existing offline training content into online training modules. This might begin with hosting documentation or recording webinars, or may involve the (re)creation of learning content as completely standalone online modules. Ideally, the LMS has templates to assist with the conversion of common types of content, support for a variety of external formats, guided processes to design and transform content and assistance in the review and conversion of existing materials. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits includes a template library with 30+ frameworks for converting common forms of content and training. Our building block editor makes it simple to copy and paste content into branded, engaging learning interactions. We even have a conversion service to do the ‘heavy lifting’ of converting content for you. 

4. Does the LMS have an Australian and/or New Zealand compliance library? 

This is important because your LMS is very likely to help your not-for-profit organisation to meet its compliance obligations. Part of those obligations will be providing training to employees and volunteers on various obligations and regulations. If the LMS has a ready-made library of compliance training, this will massively reduce your efforts in this area. Be sure to check the library has Australian and/or New Zealand specific content and is updated periodically as legislation changes. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits includes over 50 Australian and New Zealand compliance modules. Prepared and updated with local lawyers, these are complete eLearning modules with examples, interactions, assessments and more. 

5. Does the LMS offer a library of ready-made capability training modules? 

This is important as while you should be able to create your own training content, it can be a huge time saver if the LMS can provide ready-made content on universal skills (to prevent you ‘reinventing the wheel’). Ideally, you need a library with relevant content for your not-for-profit organisation – communication, productivity, management, leadership, project management and so on. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits also includes hundreds of capability training modules. Each complete eLearning module includes templates, interactions, on-the-job tasks, examples, quizzes, scenarios and more. Modules cover leadership, sales, service, management, productivity, communication and dozens of other core capability development topics. 

6. Is the online training library custom branded and editable? 

This is important for both the compliance and capability library content discussed in the previous two questions. Ideally, you want all of that library content to be in the branding of your not-for-profit organisation. Branded content helps with learner engagement. Equally, you should be able to edit and customise the library content. This allows you to use library content as a template to accelerate new training, as well as to ensure tailor content to your organisation (further boosting learning engagement). 

Tribal Habits response: All modules in the Tribal Habits library appear in your organisation’s branding. All modules are also completely editable – change any image, word, quiz, example or anything else with in the module. Or just use them as is for instant, branded training. 

7. Can the LMS train both employees and volunteers (and others)? 

This is important as not-for-profits are often training (at least) two cohorts of learners. First are employees, who often have internal email addresses, require more regular training and may need to access the platform via secure credentials (such as Single Sign On). Second are volunteers, who may have personal email addresses, undertake seasonal or less frequent training and need to access the platform from any device. It is important that any not-for-profit LMS can accommodate both cohorts simultaneously. This may require multiple portals (with separate URLs and branding) or the same portal but separation of cohorts (different learning catalogues, enrolments and reporting).  

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits supports multiple cohorts of learners in the same platform. Automated rules can be based on cohorts. Training catalogues can be different for each cohort. All enrolment and learner contributions can be filtered by cohort for individual reporting. A single platform can support both internal (SSO) and external (public) logins, or multiple portals are available at no additional cost. 

8. Can the LMS track external certificates, licences, qualifications or CPD? 

This is important as it allows the LMS to become a ‘single source of truth’ for all aspects of a user’s training history. This means the LMS should have a dedicated process to capture external training records including expiry dates, certificate/photo uploads, dedicated reporting, options for users, managers and admins to add and edit and so on. User reporting should aggregate all training – completed in the LMS or elsewhere – into a single user profile. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits supports full recording of external knowledge across documents, licences, qualifications, certifications and training. External knowledge can be recorded by users, managers and admins, including bulk recording via a spreadsheet. Each item can be individually tracked, including expiry dates and uploaded files. 

9. Are there any upfront or once-off set up costs? 

This is important as its easy to get caught out by upfront costs, when often you are just focused on the initial subscription. If there are upfront costs, you should enquire ‘Why?’. What value are you receiving from paying one-off costs?  

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits has no once-off or upfront costs. There are no ‘set up’ or ‘implementation’ costs. 

10. As there any limitations on storage? 

This is important as many older LMS platforms have storage limitations, which are not often apparent at the start. If you are using external eLearning modules, uploading videos or adding documents, you may find that you need to purchase additional storage to continue developing new training in the LMS. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits has no storage limitations for your portal. You can upload unlimited videos or documents, store unlimited images and create unlimited users.  

11. Is the subscription model based on stored or active users? 

This is important as there can be significant cost differences between subscriptions based on stored or active users. A stored user subscription will charge you for every user in your portal, regardless of their level of activity. An active user subscription will only charge your for users who are active in your portal. As a result, an active user subscription can be substantially cheaper.  

IMPORTANT: Not every active user subscription is the same. Be sure to ask what the definition of ‘active’. Ideally, an active user should require activity by the user themselves – logging into the platform and being actually active. Some platforms define an active user as any users simply created or updated by an admin. This definition of active can easily capture a far larger group of users (and be largely similar to a stored user plan). 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits offers both active and stored user plans. The majority of organisations utilise our Active plans, which only charge for users who actually log into your platform (creating, updating or storing a user incurs no charge). However, we also offer Stored User plans for certain organisations with specific training needs. 

12. Is there a pricing discount for not-for-profit organisations? 

This is important as any pricing discount will obviously translate into savings for your not-for-profit organisation! 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits provides a 20% discount to not-for-profit organisations on all costs associated with the platform. 

13. What implementation assistance is provided? 

This is important as once you subscribe to a not-for-profit LMS, you need to complete the implementation process in order to obtain value from your investment. The faster you can complete implementation, the sooner you can get value in return. You should therefore ask about the typical length of implementation and how the LMS provider will assist you with implementation (planning, training, advice, support articles, examples, checklists and so on).  

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits has a dedicated implementation process. It includes in-platform training modules for admins, content creators, learners and managers. There is a 15 step, fully documented process which organisations can follow, including help articles and case studies for each step in the process. The implementation process includes four private virtual training and advise sessions for your implementation team, which can be booked at a schedule suitable for you.  

14. Where is your data stored? Where are support teams located? 

This is important for Australian and New Zealand not-for-profit organisations as the majority of the 1,000 LMS providers are not located in Australia. This means your data may be hosted overseas. While data sovereignty may not be critical to your organisation, it will mean that your Australian or New Zealand learners are accessing servers located outside Australia, which may be slower to respond.  

Equally, it is likely that the support for non-Australian LMS providers is also located overseas. While it is possible that the salesperson for a non-Australian LMS is located in Australia, support is typically back in the home country of the LMS. This may mean significantly slower support and difficulty in booking support calls in local hours (so limited to email support overnight). 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits is 100% Australian owned and operated. All data is stored in Australia with Amazon Web Services. Our support team is entirely Australian based. 

15. What level of ongoing support is required (after implementation)? 

This is important as not-for-profit organisations often new staff becoming involved in training creation or administration on a regular basis. While the initial team may work on implementation, new administrators may require refresher training or ongoing support well after implementation. Ideally, those administrators need access to a searchable knowledge base, self-paced online learning, personal training sessions and the ability to ask questions/receive help in a timely manner. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits has a large, searchable and public knowledge base with hundreds of support articles and videos. Within the platform, admins can access searchable help and ask questions to our support team. Our support chat is extremely responsive, with an average response time under two hours!  

16. Are support teams able to assist with training advice or content creation? 

This is important for many not-for-profit organisations who are working with lean budgets and resources. While its useful for the LMS provider to offer technical support for the features of their platform, it can be even more useful if the LMS provider’s support team are actually trained learning and development professionals. This means they can offer a broader range of advice, including training needs analysis, curriculum planning, content creation or review services and more. Know how to use a tool is one thing – knowing why and what to do with a tool is another! 

Tribal Habits response: The support team at Tribal Habits are all trained learning and development professionals (not just generic IT support). During your implementation process, or during on-going support, they can provide general training advice or feedback on your training plans. Our team can also convert your existing training materials into interactive online learning in the platform, or assist with data migration (from spreadsheets or another LMS). 

17. Does the LMS platform meeting accessibility guidelines for web-based training? 

This is important as all modern web-based platforms should be accessible to all learners. This means the LMS platform should meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 to at least a Level A standard, but ideally to a Level AA standard. Meeting these requirements helps users who are vision or hearing impaired, or require the use of keyboard only controls. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits meets WCAG 2.1 standards to Level AA standards. 

18. Can the LMS help eliminate any other (hidden) costs or subscriptions? 

This is important as, in addition to the costs outlined above, you may find that other software or tools are required to maximise with use of a not-for-profit LMS. If the LMS platform can offer features which eliminate these extra tools, that’s an additional cost saving to you! Examples would include the ability to host and share videos (and not just embed videos from YouTube or VIMEO), a stock image library (to give you millions of ready-to-use images), an image editor (to reduce effort of customising images for your training) and host and share documents (to avoid using unsecure links). 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits subscriptions include (at no extra cost) complete video hosting and playback, access to millions of stock images, an extensive image editor and secure file hosting and sharing. 

19. Are there automated features to help reduce training administration? 

This is important as anything which can reduce effort and time for your training administrators can be vital in the success of an LMS at a not-for-profit. Examples of these features would include: 

  • Options to create and manage users in bulk via spreadsheets 
  • Automation of user enrolments based on user profiles  
  • Learning pathways to manage users though a series of training modules 
  • Email invites and automated password management for new users (reset password) 
  • Enrolment notifications to users, including links and dates 
  • Reminder notifications to users who have overdue or expired training 
  • Escalation notifications to managers who have team members with overdue training 
  • Manager dashboard, allowing managers to administer learning to their team directly 
  • Training catalogue options to allow learners to self-enrol in training (ideally by role) 
  • Self-registration options, to allow learners to create their own profile and access training 
  • Integrations with other platforms, to manage new users or share learning data  

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits has all of the above listed automation features. 

20. Can you access full learner contributions (or are you limited to completion data only)? 

This is important as while it is essential that you can access completion data for your learners, there is often a far greater value in the ability to review all learner contributions. For example, how are learners answering a certain quiz, what feedback do learners have about a module, would learners like assistance with additional information, do learners have questions for upcoming facilitated training, how are learners answering a poll or survey and so on. Ideally, your not-for-profit LMS should provide access to all learner contributions – not just whether a module has been completed or not. 

Tribal Habits response: Tribal Habits tracks all learner contributions from training created in the platform. This means you can use Tribal Habits to capture learner feedback, run surveys/polls, hold online discussion forums, conduct online and offline assessments, set and track on-the-job tasks and more. 

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