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rganizations grow and change, and so do their goals and needs. With this in mind, migrating from one learning management system (LMS)  is a common scenario for academies, institutes, and businesses.

However, the LMS migration can be quite a challenge when it comes to learning or corporate training provision. Data transfer, seamless transition, and maintaining effective operation are just some of the concerns. 

So, what is the right way to handle the transition? By having a solid LMS migration project plan and anticipating challenges! 

Read on to learn more about LMS replacement, key issues, and steps to consider during the turbulence it provides.

LMS Migration: Definition and Reasons for a Switch

Before we get to why people migrate from their LMS, let’s start with the term. What is LMS migration? 

LMS migration contemplates the organization’s transition from one learning management system (LMS) to another LMS, including the transfer of data on learners and learning content without loss of information or disruption of key processes.

For businesses, it is a pretty hard decision, implying risks for their operation. Yet, often it is the direct answer to learning needs, business plans, or requirements.

Why do learning providers switch? Reasons for LMS migration

In most cases, the LMS migration is caused by the desire to improve learning, scale the business, or simply be more effective. And if done right, migration brings new angles, offers fresh perspectives, and allows the realization of new opportunities. 

💡In brief, the limitations of the LMS providers are the main root of any change. 

What are the signs that make operations unbearable or lead learning providers to a switch?

LMS offers an inadequate user interface and experience (UI/UX)

The intuitiveness of the platform is a crucial point for some businesses. Why? Because they care about their teams and students. 

A poor UI is likely to result in a steep learning curve and low engagement. Also, a design that is not intuitive will mean less focus and responsiveness to the elements. 

Besides, it is a matter of management and creating interactive courses. Straightforward and clear navigation will allow the smooth operation of instructors and the creation of easy-to-understand courses. 

LMS lacks features (reporting, management, engagement tools)

Another popular reason for the LMS migration is the platform’s lack of functionality. 

It happens when the organization appears to need more than the LMS can offer. For instance, with the rise of students, the need for reporting and management appears.

And what if there are no reporting features or decent management options? These limitations hamper the business development.

The same applies to the needs of businesses to provide assignments, engage with students, organize events, or collect feedback. 

Read more: LMS Must-Have Features

LMS integration capabilities are poor

The integrations are as crucial, considering the necessity for a coherent system within any organization. Thus, the lack of integration capabilities can be a significant cause for LMS migration, especially for corporate actors.

They want a centralized system and the ability to connect communication tools, HRMSs, and CRMs, not to mention the need for flexibility via proper API integrations.

Weak Support and Additional Costs

Slow response times, unhelpful assistance, lack of solutions, or data loss can be catalysts for LMS migration as well. At the same time, unexpected additional costs for necessary features, upgrades, or support tiers can also be reasons. 

In such cases, migrating to a new LMS that offers robust support services and transparent pricing structures can be a more sustainable and cost-efficient option in the long run.

Read more: LMS Pricing

💡Highlight: whether it's scaling operations, expanding market reach, or fostering innovation, the LMS replacement reflects a strategic imperative of the business to drive growth, competitiveness, and sustainability.

LMS Migration Plan: Key Steps to Consider

LMS Migration Project Plan

Yes, there are enough reasons for an organization to change one software for another. Often they impact the migration plan, especially at the stage of assessment, planning, and data transfer. 

However, what are the other stages? Implementation, testing, and training! 

Each has its peculiarities, involving not only the software but also your team and internal processes. Let’s cover the main steps of the LMS migration and best practices to make it smooth.  

Step#1. Identify Problem Areas and Anticipate Issues

The first stage of the LMS migration process relates to the assessment of the situation and possible issues. 

How to define the problem areas and foresee limitations?

Start with the reason for the migration and determine what you want to achieve, what you can lose during the transition, and how you can compensate for it.

It will allow you to ask the right questions to the current and future LMS vendors.

They refer to the availability of the tools for operation, transfer of data, and registering new users. Here are some cases:

  • For instance, if some tools that you used before are absent, you will need a new LMS vendor to create a custom integration or apply to a third party like Zapier. 
  • Your new LMS may not support the format of your courses, or your current LMS may have poor export options. Thus, you will need to think through your data migration options.

Based on the differences and limitations, you are likely to determine the main challenges and pick the right LMS migration method to implement in the planning stage.

Key LMS migration challenges:

  • Downtime. It is the period when the system is unavailable, affecting whether you will need your old system or not. In this regard, you should find a window between the programs or find LMS migration solutions that won’t disrupt learning.
  • Data transfer. This is a significant factor, as differences in systems can mean you will need to transfer data manually, duplicate new content, or use LMS migration services.
  • User Adoption. This issue is concerned with how you will onboard students to the new platform, whether their previous data will be preserved, and how difficult the LMS replacement would be for them.
  • Integration with other tools. Lastly, integration with your current tools can impact transition. There, you may want to have requirements and estimations from your IT beforehand regarding the documentation and the system you have.
💡Impact on timeframes: All limitations and challenges affect the timeframe for your LMS migration; thus, it is so important to make a list of areas that require special attention.

Step#2. Define the Roles and Responsibilities

Upon the anticipation of challenges, the next crucial step in the successful LMS migration plan is defining roles and responsibilities within your team.

Your task is to identify key stakeholders, such as project managers or administrators, IT specialists, and instructional designers, and clarify how they can facilitate the change. 

Someone will oversee the project, some define the learning needs, and others will implement the change. Besides, have strict requirements for the LMS vendor and see what support you can get from their end.

That way, you will be able to ensure accountability and streamline the LMS migration.

💡Vital role of the IT department and managers/instructors: Make sure there is synergy between IT specialists, course managers, and instructional designers. The first group is to handle technical aspects, while course managers and designers focus on content migration and course design.

Step#3. Plan and Set a Timeline

Once you’ve identified the risks and have all roles assigned, you should switch to planning the change and setting a timeline. 

Based on the challenges, think of the types of LMS migration you will use. There, ask yourself: 

  • How long will the period of downtime take?
  • How different are the current and future systems?
  • How complex is the data migration? Will the IT department implement the change or is manual transfer needed?
  • Can the business function without the system in place?

With this in mind, you can determine the LMS migration solutions to apply. Notably, much depends on how you want to implement the change, gradually or swiftly:

  • A complete and rapid LMS migration. This type is ideal for small businesses with no significant problems, or those providers that have enough time before learning programs to provide a change.
  • Gradual LMS migration. This method contemplates phasing out the old system, and gradual inclusion of the new LMS. It can be a safe bet for middle organizations with many programs and much data. Under it, new programs can be hosted on a new system, while old ones that have already started will be finished on the old one.
  • Maintaining both systems simultaneously (in parallel). Lastly, if you know that there are enough problem areas and that LMS data migration issues may occur, having both systems for some period will help you mitigate risks. This strategy applies to big enterprises with many students and programs, meaning they can migrate in portions and save data.
💡How long does it take to proceed with LMS migration? The transition can take 1 month for small companies, 3 months for middle-sized companies, and 6 months for big actors.

Step #4. Backup and Transfer Data

Once your plan and timeframes are defined, the next step is old LMS data migration. At this stage, you have to consider all the data you have and how you would back it up. 

First, categorize your data into types: user profiles, training programs and courses, external libraries, statistics, course results, achievements, and certificates. Yet, don’t forget that different systems may support varying types of content, requiring adaptation. 

💡Think about which data can be exported as Excel or CSV files and which data should be transferred directly to the new LMS.

Next, launch the process of LMS data migration that consists of three parts: extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL). 

  • Extraction is about getting all the data from your system (course and training materials, infographics, videos, assessments, library). 
  • Transformation is concerned with cleansing and sorting it out, verification, and standardization. At this level, you should pick a format that you want to use in your LMS system. For instance, you may want to turn your course into the SCORM file.
  • Loading contemplates the transfer of the transformed data into the target LMS. It should be meticulously verified to guarantee accuracy and completeness. 

Importantly, it is possible to transform data after loading into your LMS, turning ETL into ELT. This data migration process is facilitated by standards such as xAPI, IMS, and SCORM.

They define the interoperability between eLearning software products. Nonetheless, not all LMSs support them.

💡You can use LMS migration services to help with the data transfer and transformation (for instance, Relokia). At the same time, a special LMS migration tool designed for data transfer can help you at least extract data and keep them in one place.

Step #5. Revise Crucial Data

At the same time, before transferring your data, it is crucial to examine and optimize it. Why? Data migration is a great occasion for revision. As you will extract and load files, you will be able to determine which are worth saving and prioritize content.  

So, what are the best LMS migration practices in this regard?

Identify and reconsider courses that are no longer relevant or outdated. For instance, if a company has training programs that are finished now, they can be used for content repurposing or the creation of a library. Similarly, you can delete old user data and files that are not needed anymore. 

Another tip is to improve content or restructure old courses to align with current objectives and standards. This may involve updating materials, incorporating new information, or redesigning course layouts for improved user engagement and comprehension. 

💡Overall, the revision can help you see what works well and what features are not used; with this in mind, you can prioritize certain features and integrations in the new LMS. 

Step #6. Implement a Migration Plan

Next, since all the data is revised, it's time to implement the migration project plan. Recheck each phase to ensure minimal disruption to operations. 

The key points of this LMS migration project plan refer to:

  1. Setting requirements for the migration
  2. Identifying challenges and issues
  3. Setting up a team and defining roles
  4. Choosing the method and budget for LMS migration
  5. Setting time limits for the change to take place and communicating them
  6. Backing up and revising data
  7. Adopting a new LMS 
  8. Transferring data and materials
  9. Make sure you communicate the change properly

Recommended reading: LMS Implementation Checklist 

Sure, this LMS migration checklist does include some details, yet, focuses on the crucial steps. And there, you should pay significant attention to the communication plan.

Moreover, before any making changes, you should prepare the stakeholders for them. 

💡Importantly, communicate with the team on each step of the LMS migration process, and underline the shifts in the activities, procedures, programs, and schedules. You can prepare an FAQ document specially for it.

Step#7. Do the LMS Trial and Run Programs

Once you transfer data and set up the programs, it is time to see how it works. There, testing is crucial to ensure the functionality and usability of the new LMS. At this stage, you should pay attention to

  • Learner experience. 
  • Team operation.
  • System performance and security. 

During evaluation, ask for feedback and outline all the possible issues. The more feedback you have, the easier it will be to provide onboarding guides for the team and students. Therefore, encourage your colleagues to leave comments and share their concerns.

Step#8. Provide Updates, Training, and Support

Importantly, to ensure the proper migration, you should inform stakeholders about the upcoming changes. It depends on how developed your communication plan is. Prepare announcements, guides, and timelines beforehand, and make sure you underline the advantages of the migration.

At the same time, the way you support your team and learners during migration is not less important. By answering their requests and providing effective training, you are to lay the foundation for the adoption of the system and smooth operation in the future. 

In this regard, the support team of your new LMS platform is a key player to collaborate with. Together with it, create effective training materials and resources on how to use a new system. Focus on the production of explainers, how-to’s, and checklists. 

Summary: LMS Migration is an Opportunity

As organizations evolve, so do their learning needs. In this regard, LMS migration isn't just about switching software; it's about seizing new opportunities and overcoming challenges. 

Yet, a seamless transition is only possible with great planning, anticipating issues, and addressing LMS data migration. At the same time, communication and feedback are as crucial as they ensure the support for the stakeholders to implement the change. 

Thus, beware that, LMS migration isn't just a technical process—it's a strategic imperative for growth and requires significant effort from the team and management. 

If you are still considering an LMS to migrate to, check EducateMe, it offers flexibility and can ensure custom solutions under some plans.
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