A Comparison of The Top 8 Best LMS For Your Organisation: Features and Benefits
Procuring a learning management system (LMS) is not unlike navigating a minefield, especially when attempting to find the best LMS for your budget and training needs.
There are seemingly endless features and functionality to consider before you even factor in providers, pricing plans and support options. This is where we give a nod to the many providers out there, because there are plenty of great solutions for traditional corporate training.
But which is the best LMS for your organisation? How can you compare solutions? Are they really all that different? We work it all out for you in this comparison of the top learning management systems out there.
What is a learning management system?
A learning management system is a software application that automates all aspects of the learning process. It allows organisations to create, store, deliver and track learning content in a central location, in order to better facilitate data validation, understand learner engagement and report on ROI.
What are the benefits of an LMS?
The best learning management systems aren’t just a simple tool to deliver a training program or two, but key drivers of business change and success.
Managing the capabilities of an entire workforce isn’t easy for L&D teams, particularly lean ones. And we know that realistically, KPIs like knowledge retention aren’t what L&D needs to prove impact to business leaders.
If you look out for certain telltale signs, you’ll be able to realise LMS benefits like:
- Centralised and automated management of learning and workforce data
- Scalable learning delivery for current and future budget allocations
- Clear oversight of workforce capability and proficiency
- Demonstrated return on L&D investment through valuable insights
- Reduced time sink from L&D and HR leaders
- Digital enablement of learning strategy and roadmap.
The 8 top learning management systems to choose from
So, what are the telltale signs to look out for? When procuring an LMS for your organisation, it’s not about just choosing the most popular LMS on the market.
You’ll want to consider features and functionality, what pricing actually gets you (and if support is in that bracket), as well as the industries LMS providers serve.
With that being said, let’s dive into eight popular learning management systems for online learning.
- Acorn LMS
- Absorb LMS
- Talent LMS
- Totara Learn
Acorn is a cloud-based learning management system from Software-as-a-Service company Pursuit Technology.
Acorn LMS features
Acorn incorporates a combination of HR and L&D technology for administrators looking to glean meaningful data from everything form workplace training to sales training and customer training.
- User profile management
- Live learning management
- Course management
- Activities & activity bank
- Automated workflows
- Capability mapping
- Capability development plans
- Reporting & analytics
- Self registration
- Developer functionality.
Acorn’s white-labelled user interface is customisable for administrators to pull out the data they need while putting the information learners need in front of them.
- The reporting dashboard shows a choice of learning and engagement metrics, including most popular courses by completions.
- The homepage widgets can be changed at any time to show information based on a user’s cohort or tenancy.
- The My Learning page shows users their training history, bookmarked and recommended content, upcoming live learnings and capability development plan.
- The content catalogue can be filtered by category, content type, tag capability, capability set and capability proficiency level.
Acorn LMS integrations
Acorn integrates with your choice of the following.
- Productivity suites: Microsoft 365 & G Suite (including a deep integration with Microsoft Teams)
- Third party content providers: LinkedIn Learning & Go1
- HRIS: SuccessFactors & Workday
- Video conferencing tools: Zoom & Webex
- CRM platforms: Salesforce & HubSpot
- CSM platforms: Intercom & Gainsight
- Authoring tools: Adobe Captivate & Elucidat
- Assessment tools: ExamSoft & Kahoot
- Proctoring tools: Integrity Advocate & Mettl
- Language translation services: AWS translator & G11N
- Social media: Facebook & Hootsuite
- LRS: Rustici & SCORM Cloud
- Digital learning environment: Pearson MyLab
- eCommerce: Stripe & Square.
Acorn’s integrations are facilitated via xAPI, LTI, webhooks, Single Sign On (SSO) and SFTP.
You can add any of these onto your subscription for $1000 or less, within a go-live of eight weeks. And if you realise an Acorn integration isn’t working for you as first thought, you can get a full refund on it at any point in time.
Acorn LMS pricing
You can view Acorn’s pricing in full here, but in the interest of brevity we charge by user.
- Fewer than 100 users: $400 flat rate
- 101 – 500 users: $3.50 per user
- 501 – 1500 users: $3.00 per user.
Over 1500 users, and our Customer Success team will work with you to create a more custom pricing plan for your needs.
Acorn offers phone, ticket and email support with a 30 minute or less response time. That’s on top of a Help Centre with community forums, feature suggestion threads, training videos, FAQs and patch notes. Oh, and full technical support through a Customer Success Manager, Product Manager and in-house SSO subject matter expert.
All this is included in your subscription fee. Implementation requires a one-off fee, but includes two training sessions and data migration.
Best LMS for
Internal and external training, be that employee training, employee onboarding, customer training, partner training, association member training or sales enablement.
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Absorb is a cloud-based LMS.
Absorb LMS features
Absorb’s features are shaped around their core market: Midsize businesses up to enterprises. The focus is on facilitating engaging professional development through:
- User management
- Blended learning
- Certification management
- Compliance management
- Virtual classrooms
- Built-in course authoring
- Learner portal
- Multi-language support
The platform itself also has robust filtering functionality, known as Availability Rules, which allows admin to organise content into categories or by learner groups.
Absorb’s mobile app makes it easy for users to access learning wherever they want, with the added benefits of offline access and gamification. However, the LMS itself doesn’t support offline access.
Absorb LMS integrations
Alongside HRIS, Absorb offers a number of integrations that enables you to create a branded training solution.
They facilitate this through RESTful API, SCORM, SSO and AICC. API and SSO are charged as additional fees, though.
Many of Absorb’s advanced features are proprietary products you’ll have to add onto your pricing plan.
- Absorb Infuse: Allows you to embed Absorb into native apps.
- Absorb Engage: Social learning and gamification functionality.
- Absorb Analyze: Robust reporting functionality, which is what helps you report on ROI as is promised in their marketing for the LMS.
Absorb LMS pricing
Absorb isn’t upfront about pricing on their website. You’ll have to enter your details – which likely means a sales rep will contact you and you’ll have to go through a qualification call.
External sites state Absorb offers licenses starting at $800/month with a yearly user fee of $16 per active user. This puts it as one of the more expensive options on the market, especially when you add their products on top.
Their hosted options start at $14,500 a year for 500 users. Premium support is included in all pricing, but don’t be fooled by the name. Elite and Enterprise plans go for $5000 and $25,000 a year respectively. It’s hard to find what is included in those plans, but they do have a support training portal which is free to access.
Something else worth noting is that while you can monetise internal employee training for free, Absorb charges $5 for learner if you want to sell online courses for external training.
Best LMS for
Absorb is one of the best online learning platforms for organisations looking to provide corporate training and prove training success.
Canvas is another Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform created by Instructure. Its primary use cases is online education in schools and universities.
However, some reviews mention the platform is hard to navigate or unreliable.
- Course building & templates
- Grading schema
- Forums & discussions
- User management
- Proficiency outcomes
- Mobile learning app
- Social learning.
In terms of training, Canvas has video capability but doesn’t allow for live online training. Their learning paths are opt-in only, not a standard feature as they are for other learning management software on this list.
You’ll also find Canvas doesn’t offer functionality for employee development like compliance and certification management. And while you can build courses, you can’t author content within Canvas. That means you’ll have to create all your training materials outside the LMS software and then import it into the system.
The list of third-party integrations for Canvas is shorter than others in this article. They do offer deep integrations that enable more collaborative learning with:
- Google Apps
- Microsoft Office 365
- Microsoft Teams
- Edu App Center.
You’ll also be able to purchase some of their proprietary tools, too.
- Canvas Studio: Allows learners and admin to time-stamp notes in video and audio.
- Canvas Commons: A digital library of course content.
- GradeBook: A dashboard for grading and viewing grading history.
- SpeedGrader: Hosts assignments alongside rubrics so instructors can leave feedback.
- Canvas Analytics: Their data analytics plug-in.
Canvas supports LTI and API standards too, which is important for verifying learning data pulled between learning tools.
Pricing for Canvas can be hard to find, but external sites list Canvas’s pricing as $299 per year per user. You can try out their free trial, though more comprehensive pricing information will require you to contact their sales team.
They offer a community knowledge centre, but technical support doesn’t appear to be on the table, even within a pricing plan.
Best LMS for
To track student progress and curriculum management in schools and educational institutions.
Docebo Learn is another SaaS learning management system, developed by Docebo.
Docebo utilises a white-labelled interface that can be customised through drag-and-drop widgets. You’ll also be able to use:
- Course management
- Role permissions
- Live and virtual ILT
- Multiple portals and domains
- Branches and Groups for organisation structures
- Language localisation
- Learning plans
- Extended enterprise
- Reporting tools.
While Docebo markets an AI engine, external reviews note this is simply keyword categorisation for content search. Their catalogue of third-party content can, however, recommend content to users.
Docebo may be the only platform on this list that also lets you create a branded app for a fee, though reviews flag that getting the app live can be a tedious process. Smaller but nagging issues with functionality include a 800mb limit on videos and lack of repository for learning materials.
Docebo is another provider to offer proprietary products that expand the functionality of their specific LMS.
- Shape: Microlearning creation tool
- Content: Pre-built content catalogue
- Learning Impact: Suite of learning surveys
- Learning Analytics: Reporting & analytics plugin
- Flow: Pop-up tool that allows users to access Docebo while in other platforms
- Coach & Share: Social learning extension.
Again, these are likely to cost you on top of your subscription – but also what will offer the depth of information and functionality needed for critical training activities.
Docebo integrates with a number of eCommerce and extended enterprise tools like Lectora, Elucidate, Stripe, Shopify and Google Analytics. You’ll also need some of their products to access third-party tools; Salesfsorce, Zendesk, Oracle and SugarCRM function through Learning Analytics.
Finding pricing information for Docebo isn’t easy; their own pricing page is simply a form asking for your information.
External sites peg Docebo at $900/month for 300 active users for smaller organisations and $2500/month for enterprise. We remind you that this is before their integrations are added, many of which you’ll likely need to fully realise the potential of the platform.
Support reviews are inconsistent at best, with some saying response times are swift and others noting systematic issues take a while to be fixed. You can access their help desk, knowledge base and community hub, though.
Best LMS for
L&D managers delivering corporate learning programs.
Litmos is a cloud-based LMS from SaaS provider SAP.
SAP Litmos boasts a white-labelled interface and features like:
- Teams and learning groups
- Multi-language support
- Built-in reporting
- Gamification tools
- Video assessments
- Course assembly
- Native mobile app
- Instructor-led training (ILT)
- Learning paths.
Litmos limits your role options to Account Owner, Admin, Learner, Team Admin, and Team Leader. Reviews also note the text editor lacks WYSIWYG capabilities, meaning you have to have HTML knowledge to make more custom changes. In saying that, it is one of the few options on this list that provides astute functionality like reporting as part of its basic LMS tools, not as additional products.
Alongside your HRM suite, you can integrate Litmos with:
Litmos also offers a partnered version of their LMS with Salesforce, with over 2500 prepackaged courses for service and compliance training, though it has to be purchased separately.
The LMS facilitates integrations through SCORM, API and AICC compliance.
Pricing for SAP Litmos can be hard to find, which is usually a sign you’ll have to go through a number of conversations with a sales rep, but external sites say their plans start at $6/user per month for a minimum of 150 users or $9000 a year.
On the Litmos website, you can see that they offer three pricing bundles: The LMS, their off-shelf-content, and the LMS plus content. As they require you request a quote for each, it’s safe to hypothesise pricing starts expensive and only gets steeper. You can take advantage of their 14-day free trial here.
Email and phone support and training are included without a setup fee, unlike other LMS platforms, and they provide training videos free on their YouTube channel. However, reviews note technical difficulties can take an extended amount of time to be resolved.
Best LMS for
SAP Litmos enables businesses to optimise their L&D processes for corporate learning.
TalentLMS is another option for cloud-based LMS platforms.
External reviews often note that TalentLMS is easy to use, with fully responsive design and easy content assembly. You’ll also find:
- User profile management
- Certification & compliance management
- Multi-language support
- Learning paths
- Multi-tenancy functionality, called Branches
- Customisable reports.
While TalentLMS offers unlimited caps on usage for many features, some like Branches will depend on the pricing plan you choose. That’ll either restrict your users or your budget.
Amongst TalentLMS’s integrations, you’ll be able to access:
- Amazon CloudFront
- G Suite
- Outlook Calendar
- TalentLibrary, their own content catalogue.
Similar to Canvas Learning Analytics, you’ll need Zapier to integrate TalentLMS with other apps like Gmail, Slack and Mailchimp. This matters because Zapier limits the amount of tasks or workflows you can do based on pricing. It’s not clear whether this is absorbed into TalentLMS’s price or if it’s an added fee for you.
And while TalentLMS does support SCORM, xAPI, CMI5. SSO and anti-spam, it doesn’t utilise IP blockers for added security.
We give props to TalentLMS, as they offer a breakdown of their pricing plans on their website.
Standard pricing plans have hard limits on the number of users you can have. The free version allows up to five users, but only gives access to ten courses. At the other end of thespectrum, the most expensive plan is $459 per month billed yearly for a total of 1000 users.
Active plans are based on the number of active users, starting with $149 per month for 40 active users. Unlike with standard pricing, all active pricing plans allow for unlimited courses.
Support, including an account manager, SSO, Branches, domain customisation and live chat, is only on offer from the mid-price range.
Best LMS for
Organisations wanting to handle learning management without system development and maintenance.
Totara Learn is an open source LMS. It is usually sold through certified Totara resellers.
Totara Learn features
Many reviews note Totara is geared towards compliance management and employee development through features like:
- Certification & compliance
- Reporting & tracking
- Course authoring
- Video learning
- Assessment & grading.
The UI is simple, mobile-friendly and can be customised to match your branding with plug-in themes. And on the flip side, reporting is said to be inflexible, there is no mobile app and, as it is an open source system, much of the customisation of the product is on you.
Totara Learn integrations
As Totara is based on Moodle, you can take advantage of many plug-ins and extensions to enhance the system. These are different to integrations, though. The former can be added to your system with little technical fuss but aren’t always maintained or upgraded, while the latter are tools continually developed by software companies and usually governed by web standards.
Through AICC, xAPI, SSO and SCORM compliance, you can integrate:
- Google drive
The in-built HR Import tool also helps you pull HR data into the LMS, though it is only one-way and cannot push data from Totara Learn back into your HRIS.
Totara itself is another provider that segments the online learning process by product. Aside from Totara Learn, there’s the LXP Totara Engage and performance management system Totara Perform.
Totara Learn pricing
Totara don’t make their pricing publicly available, but external sites show it can start at USD $3,500/year based on active users. They also use a reseller model, which essentially means you have to talk to a local rep to learn pricing.
You may also pay an additional fee on top of your pricing plan as part of the reseller’s agreement with Totara, which is essentially how the reseller will make a profit. Resellers also don’t offer much in the way of technical support, so you’ll have to rely on community-based knowledge hubs and your own technical capabilities.
Best LMS for
Small organisations looking to have better oversight on tracking learning progress.
LearnUpon is a cloud-based learning management system.
LearnUpon’s interface is white-labelled, with functionality geared towards streamlined administration.
- Learner portal
- Gamification & social learning tools
- Live learning courses
- Mobile learning
- Learner groups
- User management.
Some reviews note there is more data entry required course creation in LearnUpon than other platforms, which while good for content categorisation and discovery, may be tedious for organisations with small content libraries and user bases. You also can’t customise dashboards for learners, only admin.
On the other hand, LearnUpon offers a unique SmartSearch feature that allows you to search for anything in the system. That means finding users, groups and courses without accessing the navigation menu. You can also assign content to learner groups.
Through RESTful API and webhooks, you can integrate LearnUpon with:
- Google Drive
- Adobe Connect
LearnUpon note in their own support guide that you’ll need in-house capabilities with JSON, a coding language, and general HTTP requests to realise these integrations.
External sites show LearnUpon’s Basic pricing plan starts at $599/month for 50 active users or $15,000 a year. While it may seem cost effective that it’s a per-active-user model, there’s a fixed cap on those users which means you’ll still have to meet a minimum number.
You will get a complimentary training session during implementation and ongoing access to a Customer Success Manager and phone and email support. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive when it comes to LearnUpon’s support, with flagged technical issues resolved quickly by the provider.
Best LMS for
Businesses looking for a simple platform for extended enterprise and workplace training courses.
Choosing a learning management system that is best for your needs isn’t always easy to do, considering a lack of transparency amongst a number of vendors.
That’s why we’ve create this list of the top eight LMSs on the market, with everything important that we could find on their features, functionality, integrations, pricing and support. If you need further help building LMS requirements or comparing providers, we’ve also got a procurement help centre full of free and downloadable resources.
Ultimately, the choice of LMS is down to you. A traditional learning management system can simply deliver training modules, but odds are that’s not just what you need an LMS to do.
Our top takeaway would be to consider the learning strategy you need training software to execute. Consider not just how your choice of LMS will deliver training, how and if it will solve a business, workforce or L&D pain point.
Thats the shortlist of best LMS’; Now see Acorn in action.
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Plus a downloadable and comprehensive checklist you can take to vendors.