December 19 2017

The Pros and Cons of a Cloud-Based LMS

Written by Christopher Pappas

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Are you considering a SaaS Learning Management System (LMS) for your online training course? In this blog, we'll explore the benefits and drawbacks of using a cloud-based LMS. 


Cloud-Based LMS: 5 Pros And 4 Cons To Consider

Choosing the right Learning Management System is not an easy feat. In fact, there’s a significant amount of research, analysis, and careful planning involved. Not to mention, trial and error. One of the first hurdles to cross is figuring out which hosting option is best for your online training needs. Many organizations opt for Software-as-a-Service, or else SaaS, solutions instead of locally hosted LMS platforms. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of a cloud-based LMS.

Benefits of Cloud-Based LMS

1. Reduced Up-Front Costs

A cloud-based LMS usually involves a monthly subscription fee. On the other hand, installed options typically require an up-front investment to download or purchase the software outright or to pay for the annual licensing fee. Thus, cloud-based Learning Management Systems have reduced up-front costs, which makes them the ideal solution for SMBs with limited resources who still want to reap the rewards of an online Learning Management System.

2. Rapid Deployment

There’s no need to install a cloud-based LMS on your local server or set-up the software to your specifications. It’s all hosted online, which means that you can sign up and start uploading your online training content. Of course, you may need to make some minor adjustments to the dashboard based on your team’s preferences. However, you’re still able to develop and deploy your online training courses more rapidly.

3. Lower Learning Curve

Most cloud-based LMS platforms are user-friendly. In fact, they’re explicitly designed for eLearning pros and organizations who want to get up and running quickly. They typically offer online support services, as well, such as FAQs, online training tutorials, and online discussion forums. Thus, the eLearning community can be an invaluable reference source if you do encounter any issues. That said, it’s still crucial to find an LMS platform that aligns with your team’s skills and experience level. Test out the tool to verify that it meets your needs and features an intuitive User Interface.

4. Stress-Free Maintenance

You don’t have to worry about installing additional upgrades or updates to the software, as is the case with locally installed Learning Management Systems. A cloud-based LMS usually includes this in the monthly fee. Thanks to its user-friendliness, you’re also able to make changes to your online training content with ease. Furthermore, cloud-based LMS solutions help you stay on the cutting-edge of technology. The LMS vendor keeps track of the latest and greatest tech advancements, then integrates them into the system. However, only if you opt for an LMS platform that prides itself on keeping on top of the trends.

5. Greater Accessibility

Accessibility is one of the most significant benefits of a cloud-based LMS. Your team isn’t tied to a single computer where the software is installed. Instead, they can access the LMS platform anytime, anywhere. This benefit is great for remote work teams that need to collaborate on online projects. Some LMS platforms even feature built-in Project Management tools, as well as video conferencing tools and online training course reviewers. Also, you can download add-ons that boost the functionality of the LMS platform and streamline the work process.

Drawbacks of Cloud-Based LMS

1. Requires A Reliable Connection

If your internet goes down, you aren’t able to access the cloud-based LMS. Thus, organizations that lack a reliable connection may want to opt for another LMS solution. The slow internet can also be problematic, as it slows down the design and development process. That said, you can always use remote Wi-Fi to access the LMS platform from anywhere across the globe.

2. Data Safety Concerns

Some organizations avoid cloud-based LMSs because of data security concerns. They believe that their information may be compromised when it’s stored on a remote server. However, there are ways to safeguard your data and prevent hacking. For example, ensure that the LMS vendor has effective encryption protocols in place and that they back up your valuable information. You can also grant access to a select group of users. For example, only those on your team will have a password and username to login to the LMS platform.

3. Cost Fluctuations

Purchasing a Learning Management System outright involves a one-time fee. You can rest assured that there won’t be any additional software costs involved. Unless, of course, you choose to upgrade or update the system at a later date. Cloud-based LMS costs may fluctuate over time. For example, the LMS vendor may raise the monthly fees after the first year to cover additional operational expenses, or they start charging for features that were once free, such as support services. You can deter fee fluctuations by signing a contract with the service provider, which ensures that you’re locked-in at that price for the foreseeable future.

4. Service Provider Challenges

The last drawback to consider is when issues are arising from the LMS vendors, themselves. They may not uphold their end of the deal, or their service leaves something to be desired. The LMS vendor is extending their service to you on a monthly or yearly basis. As such, they can cancel the agreement at any time if you don’t have a contract. So, it is crucial to speak with your LMS vendor beforehand and get everything in writing. Clarify expectations, so that you know what the package entails, which removes the element of surprise. You should also have a point of contact with the LMS vendor if any issues arise. For example, they provide the phone number for their customer service representative who can address your concerns.

Is a cloud-based LMS best for your organization? How to choose the LMS platform that’s right for your budget and online training needs? Create a list of must-haves for your next LMS, then weigh them against these benefits and drawbacks. Can you afford to overlook the cons and focus on the pros? Alternatively, is it worth considering another LMS option?


More Resources on Cloud-Based LMS

  1. Do you have a hard time finding the right LMS vendor? Read the article 5 Easy Steps To Get A Learning Management System Quote Tailored To Your Needs In Less Than 3 Minutes to narrow down your choices to the top 5 LMS vendors that better match your company's requirements.
  2. Are you struggling to decide whether or not to rely on a Moodle hosting services partner or host the LMS yourself? Get some insight from this blog Full-Managed Cloud Hosting for Moodle Vs. Self-Hosting

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