9 Reasons Why LMS Implementations Fail (and how to avoid them)

11th January 2021


Table of Contents

Organisations the world over are rapidly transitioning to digital learning to adapt to the new normal. From small businesses to multinational corporations, company leaders are looking to adopt a learning management system (LMS) to facilitate training. The trend bears out in the industry forecast, as the LMS market is projected to be worth $25.7 billion by 2025.

With a growing number of companies adopting an LMS, the various challenges of successfully implementing and integrating them into existing processes, systems and business infrastructure become more apparent. In this article, we will look into some of the major reasons why LMS implementations fail and how your organisation can avoid making the same mistakes.

Why LMS Implementations Fail

No strategy

It’s important to recognise that an LMS is simply a tool. It’s not the ultimate solution to every problem your company might have regarding employee training. Even if you invested in the most well-reviewed LMS with the most comprehensive suite of features, you can’t expect to reap its benefits without having a strategy in place.

Solution: Ask fundamental questions

To build a strategy for your LMS, ask the following questions:

  • What are your goals? — Identify specific issues an LMS would address, such as reducing training costs and increasing employee engagement.
  • Who are the stakeholders? — Consider concerns such as employee tech literacy and management buy-in.
  • How will you manage the program? — Account for internal marketing, internal administration resource, course access, and ROI measurement.

Related resource: How to successfully implement training for external partners

No transition plan

It’s one thing to have a general strategy in place, and another thing to have a specific plan to transition from a traditional instructor-led training program to a blended or digital program. In fact, the inability to integrate with multiple systems is the most oft-cited barrier to satisfaction for companies adopting an LMS, according to Docebo’s eLearning Trends 2019 report.

Solution: Understand the differences between traditional learning and eLearning

Transitioning is not just a matter of using traditional methods with your modern LMS. You also need to:

  • Transform content — Instead of just putting instructional slideshows into an eLearning course, adapt them to a digital format.
  • Maintain interaction — Let instructors and learners interact with each other periodically through online sessions.

Choosing an LMS that isn’t user-friendly

The Docebo 2019 report also shows that “poor user experiences” is the second most cited barrier for satisfaction with learning technology. There is much ado about having top-shelf monitoring for LMS administrators at the cost of user experience. Simply put, if the LMS is difficult to figure out, learners are unlikely to use it.

Solution: Run a trial

Take advantage of demos or trials that LMS vendors offer so that you can get a feel for how your company might take to the platform. Get feedback from your staff so you’ll know if the LMS works for them and isn’t solely just for making it easy for managers to track performance.

Limited integration

You may have had a smooth LMS demo and maybe even a smooth onboarding process, but it could all have been under the strict guidance of the LMS vendor. Such supervision might be good when your company is just starting with an LMS. However, it can begin to feel restrictive when the vendor still has majority control over how you can use the LMS over time.

Solution: Consider an open platform

Shop around for a vendor that allows you to take full control of how you want to use your LMS. It would make implementation much easier if you can integrate the LMS with your existing systems instead of having to start from scratch with the systems dictated by the vendor. This includes potential supporting platforms such as HR software, content management systems, and industry-specific solutions.

Inadequate end-user support

After-sales service is vital to the success of an LMS implementation, especially for first-time users. When purchasing an LMS, there are two groups of users to consider. One is the learner using the platform, and the other is the user who uses the administration functions of the platform. Without knowing how to maximise an LMS’s features and how to support your users, your investment might go to waste.

Solution: Choose a vendor that provides superior customer support

Almost all LMS solutions lack end-user support. This means you need to do prior research to confirm if the solution you’re looking at provides superior customer support both for your learners and your administrators. This support makes it possible even for small businesses without a dedicated tech department to implement and run a successful online training program.

For your learners, the LMS you’ll ultimately pick should feel like an extension of your team. It needs to have multi-channel support (available on several communication mediums like chat or email), a comprehensive knowledge base (so you can get the answers you need as quickly as possible), support tracking (the ability to view your support history and track its progress), multilingual support (for better communication), and dedicated contact details (so you’ll know that the support they’re providing is customised to your team).

To make administrators’ lives easier, your LMS and managed learning services provider should first understand the challenges you currently face. In doing so, you’ll get a complete support package optimised to your organisation’s needs. Some of the managed services you need to look out for include migration of your pre-defined programs into the new LMS, support for all types of eLearning courses (be it online modules or blended learning), powerful regular reporting, end-to-end management and administration to free up your time, and flexibility to adapt to learners’ and administrator’s needs as they change over time.

Unexpected extra costs

Using an LMS can be a cost-effective way of training employees, especially in this increasingly digital new normal. You don’t have to take your employees to conferences, print multiple copies of training materials, or hire a slew of instructors. A well-trained team can result in $70,000 (£53,000) in annual savings and a 10% increase in productivity.

It can then be extremely enticing to take a bargain deal from an LMS vendor promoting their affordable package. The upfront cost might be reasonable, but you might not realise how much you have to pay for developing an eLearning curriculum and maintaining the software and the service until it’s too late.

Related resource: Want to create a training program but have a limited budget – Here’s how

Solution: Request pricing options

Don’t be immediately swayed by any offer that looks too good to be true for your budget. Question each vendor you are interested in about their pay structure with the terms and conditions in mind.

Low-quality content

You can have all the systems running smoothly as possible, dependable IT staff to address any technical issues, and all the buy-in from your entire company, and still fail to implement an LMS properly into your training program if the actual courses aren’t up to standard. Content that isn’t engaging or useful hinders any chance of success no matter how good your LMS is.

Solution: Develop content made for an LMS

eLearning content must be developed with the target audience in mind and how they will interface with the courses:

  • Think digital — Content is delivered through a digital format. Ensure a positive user experience through a range of devices, from desktop computers to smartphones.
  • Take note of trends — Today’s learners consume content differently. Study eLearning trends to know what types of content resonate with the modern workforce.

Little to no communication

The entire initial process of transitioning to an eLearning program demands extensive communication between you, your LMS vendor, and the rest of your company.

Communication doesn’t start and end when you negotiate the payment terms for your LMS. When you don’t communicate your objectives with your vendor and your own team, you sabotage your chances of successful implementation.

Solution: Involve every major stakeholder in discussions

Everyone who influences how your chosen LMS will be implemented needs to have their voice heard and also hear from you.

  • Express your goals to your vendor — Consider the vendor as a business partner that also wants you to succeed, and informing them of your goals is the first step.
  • Account for staff input — Listen to your department heads, as they have a clearer idea of what your learning objectives are.

Unrealistic expectations

An LMS is not a silver bullet to all your business problems. It can’t deliver results that are beyond your budget and staff skill ceiling. It can push those limits incrementally, but it will take more investment to see the improvements over a long period. Don’t abandon your eLearning program when you don’t immediately see a radical training transformation and huge ROI.

Solution: Know your limitations

As the head of your company, you should know best about your business’s strengths and weaknesses. Adjust your expectations based on what your people and processes are actually capable of.

Setting Up an LMS for Success

Implementing an LMS requires a great deal of preparation. You need a vision for your eLearning program, awareness of what LMS best suits your company, and an understanding of your organisation’s own capabilities.

Ready to take the next step in implementing a successful training program? Read our latest blog ‘How to Successfully Implement Training for External Partners‘ for tips and strategies on how to make a success of your LMS implementation. 


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