As someone who worked in compliance for a small life sciences company, I like to share the problems and pitfalls I experienced over the years, in the hope of saving others from the same fate. Today, we touch on the subject of Learning Management Systems and in particular, my hard-learned lesson about trying to use Microsoft Excel for some LMS functions. I like Excel as a software program overall. And, if you work in training, it may seem like a logical choice for measuring metrics. It’s not. If your company doesn’t have an enterprise-wide LMS in place, or if a particular group of learners (e.g., third-party vendors) doesn’t have access to your internal LMS, I strongly recommend using a hosted or cloud-based LMS  rather than relying on Excel to handle the tracking and reporting.

Is an LMS a Better Option?

The obvious and primary limitation of using Excel is you still need to find a way to host and deploy the training. Even when used solely for the purposes of tracking and reporting, it can be burdensome, error-prone, and time-consuming. At a minimum, you need to enter all of the learner-related data, as well as the list of courses assigned to each learner, and the dates the courses were deployed and completed. Then there’s the on-going need to keep your learners updated with reminders that training is due, and the work necessary to pull metrics from all the data. Using Excel is a manual process, which opens the door for mistakes and those mistakes, are hard to catch when you’re pouring over hundreds of lines of data.

Using a hosted or cloud-based LMS helps automate those processes, greatly improves accuracy, and lightens the burden of the on-going work. While some upfront work is necessary as an administrator, the LMS itself does most of the heavy lifting. Deployment of the training and management of the completion records are handled by the LMS, freeing you from developing formulas and creating your own reports. In fact, you’re likely to get far more insight from the reports and metrics that are standard with most hosted and cloud-based services than you’d ever be able to pull from Excel. And the best part – all of this comes with the ability to host and deploy the training.

Of course, a hosted LMS solution isn’t the panacea to all of your workload challenges. You may not be able to customize the functionality of the LMS, and depending on what service you choose, you may or may not be able to manage your classroom learning with the service. Then, of course, there’s the big elephant in the room, the cost. Reconciling the budget when you think you can manage with the software you already have in house may seem difficult, especially for small to mid-size companies. However, when you factor in the time spent by managing all the tasks manually, the cost may not seem so overwhelming.

What About the Budget?

A number of cost-effective options are available. For example, our PharmaCertify Access™ LMS offers an affordable way for small to mid-size (and even larger) clients to host and track online training, whether it’s developed by us, another vendor, or in-house by our client.

Looking back on that Excel experience, I regret not giving more than a fleeting thought to using a hosted LMS, even though I only had a few hundred learners to manage. I’m sure an LMS would have provided better insight into the impact the training had on the audience, and would have allowed me to dedicate more time and resources to building an even better compliance training curriculum.

Thanks for reading, and stay compliant!

Lauren Barnett
Compliance Content Specialist
PharmaCertify™ by NXLevel Solution