Caveat Emptor, means Buyer Beware, or in less dramatic terms, buyer, be aware of this prior to purchase. When evaluating learning management systems, and LMS pricing, don’t forget to factor in those additional LMS fees that aren’t always so obvious during your research. LMS vendors are pretty straight forward with their pricing models. In fact, LMS pricing is typically based on some variation of pay per learner, pay per use, and pay per licensing fee. Albeit, these scenarios fluctuate based on factors such as active vs. non-active learners, size of overall learner population and the inclusion of course libraries, to name just a few.
What does buying a home and buying an LMS have in common?
Before we get to those LMS fees, let’s review this scenario. What happens when you choose to buy a home? After you’ve negotiated the price of your home, you go to the closing and you have to pay closing fees. After your purchase is complete, you’ll then want to make the house officially yours, so you may paint the walls, makeover your kitchen, and plant some shrubs. After a while you decide perhaps you’d like to make some additional modifications, so you hire a contractor and you replace the flooring and maybe some lighting. Four months later you decide you need more storage space, so you build an addition. As you continue to maintain your home, you have different fees to pay, depending upon how much of the work you choose to do yourself, versus the work you choose to have a contractor perform. So what does this scenario have to do with buying an LMS? It’s pretty similar!
Now, about those LMS fees
After you’ve negotiated pricing with your LMS vendor, they may offer implementation or set-up services. There’s usually a fee associated with this, similar to those closing costs. Of course, this is optional; if you have the resources and the time you can set-up the LMS yourself. After the LMS is implemented, your staff will need training. Training is sometimes included with the implementation fee, or it can be a separate fee. This again is optional, you can always learn the LMS system on your own, but this may take extra time, which could delay your training initiatives. After you’ve purchased the LMS, you’ll want to make it yours. Many LMSs come with different color schemes or skins that can be branded with your logo; however, if you’re looking for something beyond a skin, then there may be additional design fees that apply, just like purchasing that paint and shrubs. Perhaps you have limited staff and resources and want your LMS provider to manage your system, there again are additional fees.
Not all LMS vendors charge for these services, but when they do, the charges can vary greatly between vendors. LMS vendors don’t typically go about trying to hide these fees as some may lead you to believe. These fees are simply based on additional service offerings that you can choose from.
The following are examples of service offerings that may have fees associated with them:
- Implementation or set-up
- Service and support
- Interface customization (skins)
- Service updates
- Data storage
- Project management
- Custom report building
If you’re new to the experience of evaluating and purchasing an LMS, then It’s good to know in advance that these fees exist and may apply to your purchase; depending upon how much time and effort your team can invest overall on your LMS. Good luck with your search!
Susan Distasio | eLearning Industry Crusader | ePath Learning, Inc.
About the Author: Susan Distasio is an eLearning Industry Crusader focused on advocating for advancement and change in the eLearning and professional development industry. An avid seeker of knowledge and continuous improvement, Susan is happy to share her research, observations and thoughts regarding “all things related to learning and development.” When she’s not out on the learning crusade, Susan can be found with the wind in her hair riding her Harley or simply enjoying life with her husband, Steve, and her Siamese cat, Elvis, and with family and friends.