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Scaling Your eLearning: 7 Questions to Ask a Portal Vendor

It’s a good problem to have: your organization is growing, which means you have to scale delivery of your eLearning in order to train more people. This means, first of all, having an understanding of how technology and scale intersect. If also means looking at how scaling up your training efforts fits in with your existing capacities. Can you handle the growth? What strains will it put on your existing LMS and other delivery systems?

When they face a need for upscaling, many organizations decide the best course of action is to use a portal as a way to manage and distribute their eLearning offerings. If you’re new to the world of portals, it can be hard to know where to start. Fortunately, there are many portal vendors who can help you – from answering your questions and guiding you as you create your own portal, to working with you to design and build a portal, to taking on all the heavy lifting as they design, build, and host the portal themselves. It all depends on your needs, resources, budget, and timeline.

But how do you choose the portal vendor that’s the right fit for your needs? Here’s a place to start: seven questions – in no particular order – that you should ask when you’re looking for a portal vendor to help you scale up your training.

7 Questions to Ask a Portal Vendor

1. Will this portal work with my LMS?

If you’re happy with your LMS, you don’t want to start over from scratch if you move your training to a portal. Look for a portal that provides flexible architecture that not only meshes with your LMS, but to other HR systems so you can unify the data you need to drive performance, automate tracking, and report progress. On the other hand, if you’re looking to replace your LMS, look for a comprehensive portal service that can replace the functions of a traditional LMS.

2. What kind of customization can you offer?

Most portal vendors will offer at least some customization in terms of branding, user interface, and individual tracking to personalize the learner experience at any scale. The best portal vendors will work with you to accentuate the features that matter most to your business goals and fit your culture. If you’re looking for performance support, gamification, microlearning, curation, social learning, or other specifics, be sure to find the vendor who can support those needs.

3. What about reliability and security?

What are your performance and compliance requirements? What sort of track record can the vendor show in these areas?

4. What platforms and technologies will the portal support?

Most training environments these days use a variety of training delivery methods, from desktops to tablets to smartphones. What about offline options? Blended learning? Does the portal support all the traditional apps, social media, wikis, messaging, calendaring, reporting, and other options that make up your system? Make sure the portal you choose fully supports and integrates all your training options.

5. What extra costs will we incur as our audience grows?

It can be hard to project growth, but assume your audience will continue to grow. Some vendors charge a lot for scaling up, and others build the scale into their platform with no extra cost for additional users. Make this a part of your decision.

6. What happens when we want to make changes?

A vendor who offers an off-the-shelf approach may be cheaper to start out with, but more expensive in the long run as your business and training needs change. Look for a vendor who offers from the beginning to work with you to design and deliver innovations and enhancements as your business changes.

7. How long will it take to launch?

Again, the off-the-shelf solutions might seem like a better choice if you’re looking to launch quickly. But experienced vendors who offer more customized solutions can build on the expertise they’ve gained from working with other clients to get your solution built and launched within your timeframe. Balance the need for speed with the peace of mind you’ll get from working with an experienced vendor.

Using a portal to scale eLearning is the right choice for an increasing number of businesses. Finding an experienced portal vendor that offers a variety of flexible solutions is the first step. An experienced vendor will guide you through the process of evaluating your needs and finding the solution that’s right for your organization.