By: Chris Fellabaum, Center of Excellence Manager, Learning
A common approach for U.S.-based international companies when implementing a Learning Management System (LMS) is to start local, and later go global. Many companies have their core business in the United States and choose to implement that population first, followed in a second phase by lines of business in other countries.
There is a strong case for this approach, when feasible. It helps to build adoption and cement administrative processes within the core of the organization before propagating those processes to a more decentralized international group of administrators and users. It also streamlines the initial U.S. implementation. While international stakeholders should have representation during this initial design phase, having a more centralized project team usually allows things to get done more quickly and efficiently.
To ensure a smooth rollout of the system later to international audiences, there are a few key considerations that should absolutely be built into the initial, U.S.-based implementation. Taking into account global needs during the initial implementation also helps avoid wasteful system reconfiguration and duplication of effort down the line, saving both time and money.
Here are three major upfront project considerations to ensure a successful phased global rollout of your LMS:
1. Build a Scalable LMS Administrator Security Model
How you set up your Administrator roles, and the foundation you lay for the ability to impose state or domain restrictions on those Administrators, is critical for ease of later expansion.
Most Enterprise LMS’ offer the ability to define a domain restriction model. This is typically a hierarchy into which system entities – including users, courses and curricula – are “filed” and categorized. This gives the ability to restrict visibility of a given set of entities to Administrators.
Sometimes these restrictions are practical – i.e. it’s much easier for Administrators in Mexico to do their job when they can only see Mexico employees in the system. Often the restriction is legal or regulatory in nature. For example, in the case of Germany’s Federal Data Protection Act, there are stringent guidelines on what data certain Administrators may see or have access to in the LMS. Care should be taken early on to take future geographical needs into account, and to integrate those needs into a scalable, flexible Administrator security model.
2. Minimize Customization of System Text
Changes to the out-of-the-box text within the system, including wording on user screens and within email notifications, can have far-reaching implications. With only the English language deployed, these modifications are relatively simple. The addition of more languages, however, can multiply the complexity of managing these changes.
Organizations can simplify by keeping these changes modest in scope, or waiting altogether to make changes until they have expanded into additional geographies and associated languages. To avoid making a decision that is sensible in one geography but meaningless in others, it is crucial to gain consensus from all stakeholders during the initial design phase.
Take, for example, updating the out-of-box text of a course assignment email notification. There are clear efficiencies in gathering one round of input on changes. You can then have those changes translated and implemented in one wave, as opposed to an iterative series of changes based on individual geographical needs.
3. Delay Introduction of Elective Libraries of Content
Offering your employees a library of elective content (frequently licensed from a vendor) can be a great way to build user adoption, and can also create synergy with other integrated talent processes such as career development and goal planning.
There are reasons, however, that might make it worthwhile to wait for this upgrade until other geographies have come on board. By purchasing libraries of content for multiple geographies and languages within a single, common contract, you can often achieve cost savings while also benefitting from a centralized integration of content.
Additionally, course content may be localized – i.e. mapped to a specific language – within the LMS. This is particularly useful if the same content needs to be presented in different languages based on an employee’s predefined language selection in the LMS. Until those languages have been deployed, this is not possible. In this case, waiting may prevent a great deal of rework.
While a phased global deployment of an LMS is a complex process with a number of moving parts, taking into account a few key considerations during the initial implementation can save a great deal of frustration over the course of the rollout. By taking into account these three project considerations during the initial design phase, you can drive time and cost efficiencies, improve adoption of your LMS, and allow global stakeholders to become true project partners, ultimately ensuring a smooth and successful global LMS deployment.