While many firms adopted eLearning technologies to educate their workforce to gain a competitive edge, savings on travel costs remains one of the largest benefits. Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) finds that today firms are more closely integrating learning applications with other company activities and elevating the role learning plays in their businesses’ success. To help clients identify the best learning management system (LMS) for them, Forrester recently evaluated six LMSes. This technology allows firms to control, measure, and report on their deployed learning offerings, and often provides additional features such as analytics, performance management, and learning content management.

Forrester’s LMS TechRankings™, an objective, scenario-based product testing and evaluation process, included the following vendors:

  • Pathlore Software Leaning Management Suite 6.5
  • Plateau Systems OpenSuite 4.5
  • Saba Software Enterprise Learning Suite 5.1
  • SumTotal Systems Enterprise Suite 7.0
  • THINQ Learning Solutions TrainingServer LMS 5.2
  • WBT Systems TopClass LMS 7.2

“The niche learning suite vendors that focus exclusively on learning applications have been extending their offerings and integrating into other business applications in order to survive the competition from the large enterprise application vendors and from each other,” said Claire Schooley, senior analyst at Forrester Research. “We’re seeing a positive response to this strategy from customers, who are integrating learning applications with other company activities. Learning is no longer something employees do separate from their work ¿ it’s becoming more closely tied to their work and to the success of the company meeting its goals.”

Overall, Forrester found that the LMS vendors had similar offerings. However, potential users need to evaluate a vendor according to their company’s needs today and in the future. The life span of an LMS is about four years, when new technology advances typically lead to new platforms. This TechRankings is based in part on the following vendor and product characteristics:

  • Monitoring and management. How sophisticated is the product’s set of tools for monitoring and managing processes?
  • Analysis and optimization. How sophisticated is the product’s set of tools for analyzing process trends, as well as optimizing and redeploying processes?
  • Reporting and analytics. What learning data does the product track? How does the product enable the analysis of learning data? What kinds of reports can users create?
  • Competency management. How does the product ensure that learners receive content appropriate to their needs and the needs of the organization?
  • Content management. What features does the product provide to enable the creation and management of content?

The research mentioned in this release, “Managing Learning: An Essential Component To Business Success,” “Standalone LMS Vendors Seek Shelter,” and the LMS TechRankings are available to Forrester WholeView™clients and can be found through www.forrester.com.

About TechRankings

Launched in October 2000, TechRankings evaluates more than 70 enterprise software products through rigorous hands-on scenario-based product testing, in-depth research, and objective analysis of global vendor offerings. TechRankings allows Forrester clients to use online tools to customize the research — and product evaluation rankings — to focus on the most important criteria and vendors. Forrester invites all important vendors, based on their product fit and momentum, to participate in each TechRankings evaluation. Forrester does not charge vendors in any way to participate.