Choosing a Training Management System (TMS)

Posted by Bruno Cozzi on 24/07/2013

Choosing a Training Management System (TMS)

Being given the task of exploring and recommending a Training Management System for RTO Training Provider can be daunting.

This was to be our mission.

Due diligence told us that we should explore all Systems to find the best fit for our company. Doing a search over the internet provided so many results that it was hard to know where to start.

Which ones do you scrap and which ones deserve further investigation?

We needed to consider our RTO Compliance requirements for each state, AQTF | AVETMISS and so on and a system to cope with the many changes that occur, we were looking for flexibility.

So the birth of the wish list - What were all the things that we wanted our TMS to be able to do for us and our students?

Having worked in the past with 5 different learning platforms - one in particular that lost students from its data base, wouldn’t bookmark, lost students results, unenrolled them from courses and student certificates hidden under layers in the system where they couldn’t find them (if they hadn’t been lost or removed), and didn’t cater for RTO compliance reporting, no functionality to cover AVETMISS and AQTF. This was a nightmare - frustrating for the students and admin staff, and the phone ringing off the wall with support calls.

We were certainly not going down that path again.

We had an awareness of what we wanted and what to avoid.

The wish list developed into quite a lengthy document which we then sorted.

What was vital – What was important – and what would be nice if it was not too expensive.

We looked into having our own system built. This way it could be made to do exactly what we wanted. When the project brief came back with a starting price tag of over $115,000 with 1160 man-hours to complete the task just for the bare basics we quickly put that thought into retirement.

No need to re-invent the wheel - back to investigating what was already available. Some systems did part of what we wanted but not all. Some were difficult to find your way around.

We spoke to other training providers to gain feedback on the systems they used – surprisingly not many were 100% happy with what they had.

Knowing what a nightmare it is to change systems (having changed 4 different systems when working with one training provider) it was imperative that we got it right the first time. It was also essential that our system grow and evolve with us.

We managed to shorten our list of prospective systems to 3.

The training provider we represented wanted to branch into online training or e-Learning. With this in mind there were extra things to consider.

Online Training (eLearning)
Understanding that a TMS and an LMS are not the same thing is a good place to start.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain this is a Learning Management System (LMS) is the platform or housing for online course content. It’s where the student enters the learning material, views it, in some cases completes some kind of assessment quiz and moves on.

A Training Management System (TMS) is where all the student data is housed. Registration details, courses completed, results of assessment quizzes, certificates awarded – and all the information to complete the ever-changing requirements for government reporting that keeps us compliant and ensures we are doing the right thing to retain our RTO status.

Having an understanding that these are two separate systems is greatly important. Even more important is how will these systems talk to one another – how will they share and store the information? This link between the two systems has to work – and work well – to ensure that the correct information is being transported between the systems. Past experiences told us that some just don’t communicate well with one another. Now for some of us to delve further into this is just a little bit technically too advanced (me included!).

Some of the systems we looked into did most of what we wanted but when it came to the LMS they paired with a 3rd party LMS provider. To us that was a little unnerving – If something went wrong who did we contact to have it fixed. Having experienced the “run around” in the past with each saying the fault was with the other – We wanted a “whole” system with one “go to” person who was responsible for the entire system functioning well.

With delight we found that Bluegem offered this holistic system (we were beginning to think that no-one did) and from there began a wonderful association with a company who not only provided what we wanted for a fraction of the price, but were interested in helping us develop and evolve as a training provider. The beginnings of a beautiful partnership!

Our advice to those looking for the “perfect” Training Management System

Do your homework - Make a wish list and use it.

Be open with the TMS provider you are considering. Give them as much information as you can about what you are wanting. Expecting the TMS provider to know what you want may lead to frustration and disappointment in the future. (Most are clever but not mind readers!)

Don’t just think about where your company is “now” look to the future. Keep in mind the growing popularity and convenience of Online Training. If it’s even a mild possibility that your company may head that way in the future look at TMS providers who can offer that – preferably as a holistic package.

Do you have affiliates? Do you have on sellers? Do you offer discounts? Are you training for large corporate groups? – will they want to access the system to see the status of their trainees? If this doesn’t happen now – could it in the future?

Compliance, compliance, compliance – Will the system capture all the information required for reporting to the various government agencies? When reporting requirements change how will this be handled by the system & who will pay for these updates?

Automation – How much needs to be done manually with the system. One of our wishes was to free up staff admin hours for other tasks and to reduce wages.

Self-editing abilities – Can you as the user change or add to information in the TMS. If you have to send off edits to the TMS development staff every time you want something changed within the site that can be time consuming and costly. The more control you have over the ability to add, remove and change information the better.

Is the system user friendly? Studentss and admin staff need to be able to find their way around the system with ease. You do not want to be “holding student’s hands” to enable them to move around and locate things within the system.

We wish you luck with your search for the Training Management System that meets your needs.

About the Author
Leah - Online Courseware Creator & Developer - has worked in the training industry for 14+ years. She has worked in RTO administration, In-class Trainer, Manager of Online & Correspondence Training, Student Support, Developer of Learning materials and Online Courseware. During that time, Leah worked with five different Learning Management Systems and two different Training Management Systems. She knows what works and what doesn't. If you are thinking about venturing into Online Training (eLearning) contact Leah at Bluegem and she will be happy to chat about the benefits of Online Learning and can assist you with creating & developing your Online courseware.

TOPICS Compliance eLearning Solutions Training Management Systems