Do you need an LMS in the modern workplace?


A Learning Management System (LMS) has been seen for many years as an essential tool for a Learning & Development department to track and manage their people’s learning at work. However as there is now a shift towards supporting all the different ways of learning in the organisation, the need for an LMS in the modern workplace is being questioned.

Here are 10 reasons why a L&D team might (want to) use an LMS. But are they relevant in the modern workplace?

1 – It’s the place to manage compliance and regulatory training   PROBABLY 

If you are an organisation with big compliance and regulatory training needs that must be accounted for, then it is likely that a LMS will help you do this. But for smaller organisations, this may be a costly and heavy-handed way to do so.

2 – It’s the place to track access to and use of e-learning  IT CAN HELP 

If all you do is create, commission or purchase online courses, programmes or pathways – and make sure people work on them, that it may help. However, in the modern workplace, L&D’s work is moving on towards helping to solve performance problems in other (non-training) ways, and managing success using business performance metrics – which can’t be tracked in an LMS.

3 – It’s the place to host performance support and other resources – NOT IDEAL

If you are moving from a “course to a resource” approach, then resources like these need to be available in the workflow for people to access as and when they are required. This means it is much better to host them on the intranet or on a portal where they can be found quickly and easily without the need for logging in. That way they are more likely to be used.

4 – It’s the place to host social learning – NOT THE BEST 

Social learning happens mostly in the workflow as people interact and learn from one another as they do their work and share their knowledge and experiences with another. And since many organizations have now enabled this with the use of enterprise social platforms and team collaboration platforms, it makes far better sense to use these very same platforms to host your formal social learning activities, and integrate learning into work.

5 – It’s a source of continuous learning – PARTLY 

Continuous learning is much more than using a library of enterprise courses; it is about learning from everyday work experiences as well as resources found on the Web. So buying an off-the-shelf library of courses and managing access to it is not the total solution to supporting continuous learning in the workplace. It would be much more useful to help individuals  to understand the wider opportunities for constant learning available inside and outside the organisation on the Web.

6 – It’s the best way to engage people with learning  UNLIKELY

It is often said that the interactive, immersive and features of an LMS boost engagement with learning, but note that no LMS appears on the Top Tools for Personal & Professional Learning!  Individuals have found many other self-selected consumer tools and services to be much more appealing for their own learning purposes.

7 – It’s the place to track everything everyone learns –  IMPOSSIBLE

People learn in so many different ways and from so many sources, and much of which happens without people realising it. Furthermore, if it requires people to record everything they learn on a central system, and they don’t do it, it means that the system is holding incomplete date. If, then, decisions are made on that incomplete data, these will be fundamentally flawed. Much better, to help managers identify and track relevant job, team and business performance metrics; it’s about the goal, not the means to the goal!

8 – It’s the place to manage an employee’s own professional learning – A BIG NO

That’s for each individual to do in the best way that suits them. It might just be in their brain, although in the new world of work where people need to demonstrate they are constant learners, that they are keeping up to speed with their industry and professional, and have achieved new things –  they need to organise and manage this using personally-selected tools. So it will be far better to focus on enabling and supporting this activity rather than managing everything for them.

9 – It’s the hub for all things learning – NO LONGER THE CASE

Learning happens in so many different ways and places in the organisation that it cannot be managed in one platform – and certainly not one “learning” platform that separates learning from the daily work. A range of technologies underpin different types of learning so these need to be well integrated within the workplace – and at the same time recognise that consumer tools are just as valid and important for supporting an individual’s learning.

10 – It’s the only learning technology L&D needs – BY NO MEANS 

The role of L&D in the modern workplace is now much more than organising and managing (e-)training. It’s about helping people do their jobs or do them better in the most appropriate way. It’s about helping managers measure performance outcomes. It’s about seeing learning as an integral part of daily work. It’s about helping individuals self-improve or self-develop in the ways that suit them best – and using the tools that work for them.


Although an LMS may provide some useful functionality (e.g. tracking compliance and access to licensed content), it is no longer the centre of workplace learning, as Tamar Elkeles writes in Todays Learning Agenda Exposed

“We don’t “own” learning or employee development. The employer-employee relationship has changed and so must our learning and talent organizations. We are facilitators of knowledge and information sharing across the organization but we cannot even begin to manage the massive amount of information or content that our employees seek or receive. There’s too much input to manage today. The No. 1 place an employee goes to get information or “training” is not our LMS or learning catalog — it’s an internet search engine. The second place they go to get information is from another co-worker or friend.”

MWL technology ecosystem

Last updated: February 3, 2022 at 9:16 am