SumTotal Blog

How to Determine the Best Learning Platform for Your Needs


At Perspectives, our user conference, I had several conversations with customers and partners in which they expressed confusion about what learning platform best fits an organization’s learning needs.

To shine a light on this and bring clarity to all, I’m going to break it down into 3 clear categories which will hopefully make it easier for you to decide which platform works best for you.

Before making any selection, you must first establish what you want your platform to accomplish.

Here are the primary use cases:

1. Informal Learning

This is where an organization needs to deliver content, report on the usage of that content, award some certificates, and run some value analysis. The main focus of this organization is learning, and they are not looking for, or require, a substantial learning management infrastructure. These organizations are not involved in a highly regulated industry, rather they want to train their people, and be able to derive business value from that training. Percipio is ideal for these organizations, as it engages learners and facilitates frictionless learning in the flow of work

2. Complex Regulations

This type of organization has to comply with complex regulations like CFR Part 11 by FDA, if a pharmaceutical company, or FAA certification regulations for pilots, if an airline company. They typically have a very sophisticated HRIS system, with complex performance and talent systems and a robust LMS from a vendor such as SumTotal, Cornerstone on Demand or Saba. These organizations want to manage everything through their LMS – to design the curriculum, assign it to multiple groups, manage diverse credits, and report on usage. This type of learning need does not always need to be related to regulations, but part of a core business process. For example, for an IT services company responding to project RFPs, provable credits is a core part of the business process and a management system like an LMS a necessity.

But they also want their content delivered in a way that will excite learners. LMS administrators have earned a bad reputation for checking up on learners, rather than inspiring users to learn. As a result, many organizations face a dilemma – how to maintain their LMS infrastructure, curriculum management tools, regulatory compliance reporting – but get their content to appeal to the modern learner? SumTotal 18.2 does this – bringing together world-class LMS capabilities with a beautiful learning experience.

3. Partition Training

This is when organizations look at some training as a fundamental requirement for doing a job. For example, a certification so that scientists can legally mix chemicals, or ensure pilots can lawfully fly planes. And they want such training to be managed on their LMS – for obvious reasons they need the reporting to be watertight. Some such organizations even have multiple LMSs either due to historical or specific business reasons. Additionally, these organizations want to offer informal learning that adds business value via employee engagement, retention, and growth – all of which translate into hard dollars of benefit for the company.  The challenge then is to provide both but in a way that prioritizes ease of use. All learning must be available with a single login, and all learning records must flow into one learning record repository. For such organizations, Percipio alongside an LMS like SumTotal 18.2 checks all the boxes. In this scenario, Percipio can be used for all informal learning, with SumTotal focusing on learning that is critical to business processes, while simultaneously serving as the official repository for all learning which allows for consistent and holistic reporting.

Of course, organizational learning needs are rarely straightforward. Often they will fit one of the above criteria, but there will be twists such as a legacy system that needs to be integrated into the learning ecosystem.

We’ve made it part of our technology strategy to ensure we support each category equally and to help organizations choose their best match. We also support myriad integrations with legacy and third-party systems to help every system integration need.

If you are still unsure which learning platform is right for your organization, please contact me at, your sales representative or Skillsoft Support and SumTotal Support.

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