Choosing the right training management system (TMS) for your business is difficult with so many providers on the market now. Dante has helped training providers build bigger businesses for more than 30 years so we’ve been here throughout the evolution of TMS software.
So we know how daunting this decision is and how expensive choosing the wrong software can be – not only in terms of money, but also time and other key resources.
In this article, we explain the key steps you can take to choose the right training management system for your business (the first time around). These tips will help you find the right software faster and save you wasting valuable money and time with the wrong setup.
7 steps to choosing the right TMS
We’ve outlined seven key steps to choosing the right training management system for your business:
- Growth: Choose a system that drives growth for your training business and continues to meet your needs as you get bigger.
- Budget: Choose a system that meets your current and future budget.
- Features: Choose a TMS that delivers the right features – and consistent quality.
- Implementation: Speak to potential providers about implementation and customisation.
- Customer service: Choose a provider that prioritises customer service.
- Usability: Choose a platform that helps you do more (without getting in the way).
- Contracts: Check every detail of your contract/agreement before signing up for anything.
By following these steps, you’ll analyse each platform to decide whether it meets your needs and also the quality of service from the software provider itself – because this working relationship is just as important as the software you’re paying for.
#1:Choose a system that meets your current (and future) needs
The purpose of a training management system is to drive growth by making the day-to-day management of your training business more efficient. As a result, you need to choose a system that, first of all, meets the current needs of your business but also has the capacity to continue meeting your needs as you grow.
By reducing the administrative workload in tasks like course management, delegate management and lead nurturing, a TMS allows your company to handle more business and generate more revenue from your existing resources (budget, personnel, etc.). It should also help you manage a greater volume of training resources – courses, venues, delegates, etc. – to build a bigger business.
As your company grows, the demands of your business will also become more ambitious and you need to make sure your TMS can keep up with you while continuing to drive further growth for you. Pay close attention to how training management systems are priced because many charge additional fees for additional user accounts or charge per course registration.
#2: Choose a system that matches your current (and future) budget
Speaking of pricing, the second step to choosing the right TMS for your business is to ensure systems meet your current and future budget. One of the biggest problems with modern software tools (not only TMS) is the complex pricing models that are split across multiple plans – many of which include additional or hidden fees.
Here are some of the common fees you’ll have to account for, while keeping in mind that your fees will increase as your business grows:
- Monthly fees: This is the monthly subscription fee you pay for your current plan.
- Setup fee: Most TMS systems include some kind of a setup fee.
- Upgrades: Every time you upgrade your plan, your monthly fees increase.
- User accounts: Most software plans charge additional users – normally on a per-user basis.
- Customisation: Some TMS providers offer customisation at an additional fee.
- Registrations: Some TMS providers charge a fee for each course registration.
- Add-ons: Some platforms charge additional fees for add-ons that introduce specific features.
- Cancellation fees: If you’re signing up to a contract, there are likely early termination fees and, potentially, other obligations.
You want to analyse all of these expenses and consider how your fees are going to change over time. Pay particular attention to the price increases between plans and how you’re charged for additional users. You don’t want to face drastic price hikes a few years down the line when you upgrade or expand your team.
Most software providers charge on a per-user basis, meaning your monthly fees are multiplied with each user account. At Dante, we understand this is unreasonable for smaller training providers so we don’t charge on a per-user basis. Instead, we charge a small fee for each user that simply covers the cost of hosting the additional user data and other expenses on our end.
This means our software fees remain affordable, no matter how large your business grows, and you’ll never get a surprise bill with a sudden price hike – everything is incremental. Our pricing model ensures your business continues to generate significantly more in additional revenue than any software fees you end up paying.
#3: Choose a TMS that delivers the right features
As with any software tool, it’s important to ensure your TMS of choice provides all of the core features you need. This may sound simple enough but the competitive nature of today’s software products means features lists between different providers can vary greatly.
This can leads to a few problems. First of all, the quality of these features isn’t always consistent and you’ll find many platforms only do one or two things really well while falling short in others. This is increasingly common as many providers try to compete by providing more features than their rivals, making it even more difficult to deliver consistent quality. In battles where the length of feature lists can win more customers, the overall quality of software products ends up suffering.
We cover this topic in more detail in a previous article, What Are The Most Important Features In A Training Management System?
In the article above, we list the most important features of a training management system:
- Course management: Tools for creating and managing courses (course scheduler, resource management, trainer matrics, calendar, etc.)
- Delegate management: Tools for managing delegates and bookings (delegate profiles, certificate generation, cancellations and transfers, etc.)
- Course booking system: A complete course booking system integrated into your website (online course booking, payment processing, customer portal, etc.)
- Training CRM: A system for managing customer data and nurturing leads (customer database, delegate database, resource database, etc.)
- Email automation: Send emails to customers, leads and delegates automatically to maximise bookings.
- Accounting & finance: Maximise revenue by sending invoices, managing price agreements and chasing up missed payments.
Choose a training management system that prioritises these features and be wary of any providers that try to offer too much – especially if they’re features you would normally expect from another type of software (eg: a website builder).
#4: Ask about Implementation
A training management system acts as the core platform of your business, something you and your team will use to run your company on a day-to-day basis. This is a solution that should integrate seamlessly with your business, not something you should have to adapt to – so speak to providers about the implementation process to ensure your needs will be met.
Here’s an overview of our implementation process.
Phase 1: Needs Assessment
We learn about your existing training administration process to determine what your business needs from our software. Next, we configure your trial system to integrate with your current processes and provide the tools to make them more efficient.
Phase 2: Free Trial
During your free trial, you have full access to our platform to learn how it benefits your business. We recommend setting up a few of your current courses and customers in the system, as a trial, so you can see how this will work once you go live.
This is the perfect opportunity to test your training administration processes in a demo environment to ensure that our solution is right for you. Learn about our Pricing.
Phase 3: Training & Setup
We schedule a kick-off call to discuss goals and timeframes that work for you. Our team gathers all the information it needs to import your current resources, such as historical training data, email templates and documents that need adding to the new system.
Next, we configure the platform to meet the needs of your business, including custom fields to ensure all of your data is housed in the right place.
While this is happening, we train your team to get the best out of the platform before it goes live – at a schedule that suits you – and we also offer ongoing refresher training and training for new starters.
Phase 4: Data Import
We handle the entire data migration process for you and help you prepare your data for seamless import with guides and templates.
Companies – Lists of customer, prospect and supplier information including name, address and contact details.
Delegates – Unique list of delegates linked to the appropriate company imported previously. We run checks on fields such as name, company, DOB and N.I. number to prevent duplicate records.
Delegate Training – List of training linked to the previously imported delegates. Information includes course name, date, expiry and result. This information is accessible via delegate records and reports to check for expired training.
Phase 5: Go-Live
Now, your system is ready to go! Your team is confident with the platform, they’re trained to get the best out of our training management software and you’re equipped with everything you need to build a bigger, more efficient training business.
All that’s left is for us to run systems and data import integrity checks to ensure everything is in place before launching your new platform live.
Phase 6: Ongoing Support
The work never ends from our perspective. We provide ongoing support and adapt your system to meet the changing needs of your business as it continues to grow.
Ongoing support includes:
- Goal Achievement (initial & ongoing)
- Continued Process Optimisation
- Workflow Automation Review
- Dante Development Roadmap
Speak to potential providers about their implementation process – and all of the costs involved – to make sure you’re getting a system that works for your business, not the other way around.
#5: Choose a provider that prioritises customer service
We’ve touched on this a couple of times already in this article and it’s such an important factor when choosing a software product – especially one as integral to your business as a TMS. This isn’t a tool you’re occasionally using to complete a few tasks; this is the heart of your training business and you need to know your provider will be there for you when you need them.
By speaking to providers about their implementation process, you should get a good idea about their approach to customer service (including technical support) but make sure you raise this point specifically with them.
Here are some key things to look out for.
- Support channels: Do you get phone support, in addition to email and other channels?
- Account manager: Do you have an individual contact looking after your account?
- Response times: How quickly can you expect a response in the event of technical issues?
- Uptime guarantee: How often is your system guaranteed to be up and running?
- Priority support: Is priority support available on top-tier plans?
That last point is an interesting one because the pros and cons depend on which bracket of customer you fall under. If a company offers priority support to enterprise customers, this is great if you’re one of those enterprise users but not so good if you’re starting out on lower plans.
We’re not saying it’s unreasonable for companies to prioritise enterprise customers but this is a factor to consider.
#6: Choose a system that helps you do more (without getting in the way)
As training management systems include more features, they naturally become more complex to use. There’s always an initial learning curve with any new software platform but you want a system that helps you do more without getting in the way. This means having a system that allows you to complete tasks in a matter of clicks or, better yet, automate them so you spend less time playing around with the software to get results.
The best way to judge TMS systems for usability is to try out demos and trials for yourself while paying close attention to how the system operates. This can be challenging when you’ve only got 14-30 days to get familiar with a new platform but there are two giveaway clues to look out for:
- Navigation: How quickly can you find and access features, tools and dashboards in the software?
- Tasks: How quickly can you complete basic and repetitive tasks in the software (time and number of clicks)?
If you have to dig through menus and sub-menus to access key tools and features or find yourself getting lost in navigation, this is a red flag. Yes, it might take a few hours to get to grips with a new platform but the architectural design should guide you to the right places with a logical structure.
The other key indicator is how long it takes to complete basic and repetitive tasks – both in time (seconds) and the number of clicks required. Repetitive tasks (daily, hourly, etc.) are the ones that put the most strain on your resources and these are the ones you want to automate or complete with one or two clicks.
#7:Check every detail of contracts before signing up
Finally, make sure you check every detail of any contracts or service agreements before signing up to a software platform. Make sure you understand exactly what you’re paying (keep an eye out for hidden fees!) and what your obligations are as a customer, especially when it comes to cancellations.
At Dante, we know our customers appreciate simplicity when it comes to pricing and contractual obligations so we run a no-obligation, rolling monthly contract with simple pricing and no hidden fees.
We constantly work to keep delivering for every customer and we don’t lock anyone into long-term contracts with early termination fees. Our customers know this, appreciate it and understand it sets us apart from most TMS providers.
Is Dante the perfect training management software for your business?
Contact Dante Systems to find out more about our training management system and discover how we can help you drive more revenue and business growth by increasing the productivity of your workflow. Request your free trial with no obligation or credit card details required. Telephone: 0117 405 8158. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.