Should you host your own LMS, or go for cloud based?

Before you decide which type of LMS want, you need to decide which type.  But don’t worry, there are really only 2 choices.

The first choice is to host your own LMS on your website or a sub-domain of your website using a plugin.  Most plugins work with wordpress.

The other option is to use a cloud based LMS that may be a stand-alone LMS, or it may integrate with other systems such as HR and payroll.

The first thing to consider is support.  If you use a cloud based LMS, some form of support should be included in the package.  It is really, really important to check this out.  Ask when support is available – is it 24/7 or just in business hours (and which country’s business hours)?  If you are hosting yourself, unless you have pretty advanced IT skills (and we mean coding), you are going to need professional IT support.  The advantage of this is that you can tailor that support to your needs.  The disadvantage is that it will probably cost more.

Then there is cost.  A cloud based LMS will run on a monthly or annual subscription and will depend on the number of users, the number of courses, or both.  If you only have a few users, cloud based is probably the way to go.  With more users and courses, the choice is not as simple.  Most of the plugins are also an annual subscription but on average, they are less than the cloud based subscription.  But you will pay more for IT support.

If you have crunched the numbers and still can’t decide, it really comes down to whether you want to own the LMS and everything on it, along with all the issues, or whether you are happy to outsource it.  We have our own as it suits our needs but it was a lot of work to set up.  But we were able to set it up exactly as we wanted and now, the maintenance is minimal and we can change it whenever we want.  But we are an elearning company.  Different things will suit different businesses.

The number one piece of advice is to do your research.  Talk to other people who use the LMS you are considering before you decide.  And, regardless of what you choose, ALWAYS back up the data.  Just in case.

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