These are the signs it may be time to switch and how you can prepare

When training suffers, so does a business. From bad food to bad service, improperly trained employees can ruin a dining experience and cause customers to never come back. When a restaurant outgrows its learning management system (LMS), it is crucial to find a new one that can better fit the business. Just as each restaurant is different, each LMS is different, too, and can only be effective if it serves the needs of the organization it supports.

One of the easiest ways to tell a system might not be pulling its weight is if restaurant managers, leaders, and employees need to spend a lot of time on solving system issues, says Matthew Brown, director of HotSchedules Train at HotSchedules.

“The workarounds may be subtle, like having to pull separate reports and join them outside the system,” he says. “It might be bigger, like when the same calls come in to training leadership everyday with managers and employees needing extra support or workarounds to find their way through the experience.”

But even when an organization knows a training system is not a great fit, changing systems can be scary. With limited time, many training leaders are daunted by the thought of implementing a new LMS, especially if they had a bad implementation experience with a previous system.

By preparing ahead of a switch, some of the pains of the process can be reduced or eliminated. Here are some ways you can prepare.

1. Imagine the Perfect System

“Start at ground zero and forget the system you have in place,” Brown says. “Go to the drawing board and ask yourself what your people development strategy is about.”

Once you imagine the system, list your needs. Do you need mobile or social support? What does the system need to do to enable that type of learning? Prioritize features to determine how important each item on the list is for meeting organizational goals.

2. Ask Others

“We often make decisions in a vacuum, but could your strategy allow managers to own pieces of the process?” Brown says. “Could you push content generation down to the front lines? Could your number one rock star server share in his or her own words what makes them successful?”

When you ask others for their input, not only do you get a broader perspective, but you can also reduce your own workload. By involving others in content creation, you also create more buy in for store-level employees because they were included in the process.

3. Assess the Current LMS

After you have a list of needs and prioritize it, figure out what features your current LMS offers. Brown recommends making a checklist of features that are include and those that are not.

“That helps you understand true gaps, and not just the workarounds you have today, but the things that will get in the way from evolving your strategy as you go forward,” he says.

4. Begin Your Search

Once these gaps are identified, you can figure out what type of LMS you need next. Use your list to find solutions that cover the features your business needs, rather than simply looking at the top search results.

“When you don’t know what you need, you might Google “LMS” and get 10 names back and call the first 10 you see,” Brown says. “Knowing what to search for can help you get a strong list of solutions to evaluate.”

5. Select Your Best Match

There probably won’t be a tool that offers everything you need, but you can find solutions that meet most of your restaurant’s demands. Brown says that the best tools will probably cover 80 to 90 percent of what you need, but your list of priorities can help you figure out what is absolutely necessary and what is not.

“Take those priorities that won’t be delivered back to the team at large and understand what the gaps are,” Brown says. “Find out what is the most important to you so you can further align with the right solution.”

6. Prepare for the Switch

Then, it’s time to prepare for the change. Doing a thorough content assessment can help brands understand where they currently have gaps and what they can do to improve offerings.

“Get the team involved and go through the inventory and have them look and see what is missing that should be there that maybe you don’t know about,” Brown says. “Have them also weigh in on that technology engagement strategy.”

From there, decide what types of content and features you need right away and what can roll out in the next six–12 months.

Though finding a new LMS and migrating to a new solution can seem like a daunting process, settling for a system that no longer supports a restaurant is a recipe for failure. Instead, take a methodical approach and include the insights of employees at different levels to help you find the right solution that can support all of your people development goals.

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