The April 2013 Fredrickson Roundtable for Learning Leaders meeting topic addressed the question of how learning professionals can build a successful relationship with their LMS vendor. The session was so packed with information and ideas worth summarizing, that it will take more than one blog entry to do it!

This blog concentrates on sharing the top tips, from both the vendor’s and client’s perspectives, for building and maintaining your relationship. Feel free to add to or comment on these lists below.

Tips for vendors in establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your LMS/TMS clients:

  1. Guide the client about the technology and educate them on what’s coming in the space.
  2. Frequently reach out on new updates, help your client understand both the near-term and long-term changes that are planned.
  3. Give your client a heads up on release notes. Tell them why the change is happening and what it means to them. Provide the client with a calendar of releases/changes for the up-coming year.
  4. Provide documentation that’s easy to read and follow; don’t bury your documentation in hard to understand techno terms. Set a proper expectation for the documentation you provide. Encourage your client to document and maintain their own documentation on use of and business practices for the system.
  5. Push the client to ask what they get for implementation support and what they get for after implementation support. Make sure you know how it works.

Tips for clients to establish and maintain good relationship with an LMS vendor:

  1. During selection, don’t let your team get hung up on the feature parade, push through to understand what the feature can really can do.
  2. Consider using a neutral third party consultant during the selection process, someone not associated with a particular service offering but knowledgeable in the capabilities and requirement gathering process.
  3. Get clear on expectations – what do you want and need from the vendor, what does your implementation team expect, what does the rest of the company want and what are you really getting?
  4. Probe and find out what type of user feedback channels are offered – how do we communicate and collaborate when we need something different?

Define the meaning of support with the vendor up front. Get both the process for feature/function/fix support and the process for business questions/consulting support?

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