One long-standing tradition of the learning management system (LMS) selection process is a list of features: Typically, an organization will draft a long list of features and then ask potential partners to respond with “yes” or “no.” This approach can work for simple purchases, but for a complex technology like an LMS, there can be hundreds of ways to do it — some better, some worse. While creating a list of features is inevitable, developing a set of user scenarios first will improve your selection process.

A user scenario is an end-to-end description of how users accomplish an action or goal using the LMS. It documents the steps they take and can then be used to flesh out other requirements. User scenarios…

    • Provide focus to identify needed features and requirements.
    • Provide a clear context for features so you can more accurately evaluate how well a potential LMS will meet your need.
    • Highlight integrations, feeds and other dependencies.
    • Help you prioritize features.

Feature creep is real. It’s easy to become caught up in the bells and whistles different technologies offer, but which do you really need? Which are worth the investment?

Step 1: Pick a Need

Above all, selecting an LMS is about achieving the learning goals set by the organization. Your first step, then, is to take a closer look at the data you gathered when you engaged with your business leaders. Identify the most important training programs and initiatives they discussed, the challenges they encounter with the current state, and their idealized vision of what the experience should be.

Step 2: Create a Persona

Creating personas is a great way to make your learners more tangible and operational. A persona is a simple tool you can use to capture key user voices and make them accessible and easy to refer to when you’re considering how a program will work. They are a representation of the audiences business leaders identified when you interviewed them.

For each program that you plan to develop a user scenario, you’ll match a profile you’ve created that embodies the qualities of the learner. While every user of your system is unique, you can group them into these general personas to provide a guide as to how they might engage with the system and achieve the most out of it.

You might decide to build three, five or even seven personas; make sure you don’t try to be too granular, but define your differences well. Each profile might include:

    • Demographic information (e.g., gender, age range, job and location).
    • Background (e.g., relevant experience, education level and how they like to work).
    • How they spend their day (e.g., on the road, at their desk)
    • The technology they access on a daily basis.
    • Their attitude toward training or education in general.

This information will give you a snapshot of your learners. Take some time to also think about your learners in the context of this program or curriculum by asking:

    • Why will they go through this program?
    • What will they want from the program?
    • What motivates them? Are they intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?

Finally, assign each persona a name and even a photo or drawing. Doing so will make it easy for existing and new project team members to reference each audience when assessing how well the project is meeting needs and requirements.

Step 3: Document the Steps of the Learning Journey

The next step is to document each step of the learning journey — to list out each activity and experience of the program, from the persona’s perspective:

    • How does their information enter the LMS?
    • How do they learn about the program?
    • What do they see the first time they log into the LMS and subsequent times?
    • What activities and resources make up the program?
    • Which other systems will they interact with during the program? How is information shared between systems?
    • What determines completion?

For more guidance on LMS selection and preparation, including engaging with senior leaders, administrators and instructors, download this free e-book: the Kineo LMS Selection Toolkit.