LMS Migration Checklist: 8 Steps to Prepare for Conversion

Updated on March 27, 2023

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It all started so well. You were excited about the new learning management system (LMS) and its possibilities. But then reality hit, and the LMS was more trouble than it was worth. It was like being stuck in a bad relationship, with communication breakdowns and unmet expectations.

But fear not! If you’re ready to move on, it’s time to swipe left on your old LMS and start looking for a new match. And let’s be real, finding a new LMS vendor partner can be just as nerve-wracking as dating. That’s why it’s essential to have a Pre-Migration Checklist to ensure a smooth transition.

In this blog post, we’ll share tips on preparing for an LMS migration and making the process as painless as possible. Plus, we’ll let you in on some secrets to reduce the effort and complexity of the selection and migration process. So, let’s start swiping and find you a better LMS match!

1 – Organize a Pre-Migration Planning Session

The first step in the LMS selection and migration process is to organize a pre-migration planning session. This session provides an opportunity to gather critical information and insights from key individuals with the most knowledge of the current learning environment. It is recommended to assemble a small team that includes the LMS administrator, lead instructional designer, and primary IT contact to ensure a well-rounded representation of the current learning ecosystem.

It is best to invite only key stakeholders and avoid introducing unnecessary politics to keep the planning session productive. During the session, the team should brainstorm and identify all aspects of the learning environment currently impacted by the LMS and may be affected by the migration.

It is important to establish early on that the purpose of the session is not to create requirements for the new LMS or discuss potential features of the new system. Instead, the focus should be on identifying the current content and required data in the old LMS. As the team progresses, they can also identify integrations with other business systems and develop strategies for documentation.

By holding a pre-migration planning session and focusing on gathering critical information about the current learning environment, the team can develop a clear understanding of what is required for a successful migration and ensure that the new LMS meets the needs of the organization.

2 – Identify and Inventory Training Assets in Old LMS

The second step to prepare for conversion is to identify and inventory all of the training assets managed by the old LMS. This step involves gathering information about eLearning courses, learning portals, social media sites, virtual classrooms, and other content used for training and development purposes. It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of these assets to ensure that they are migrated successfully to the new LMS.

To capture this information, it is important to discuss and determine the best approach with your team. Collaborative spreadsheets or similar tools that allow for easy consolidation and tracking of information can be a useful option. Additionally, it is crucial to categorize and prioritize the identified assets based on their importance, complexity, and usage. This can help develop a plan for migrating these assets to the new LMS.

During this step, assessing the quality and relevance of the identified training assets may also be helpful. This can help identify outdated or redundant materials that can be eliminated or updated during migration. By taking the time to identify and inventory the training assets in the old LMS, the organization can ensure a smooth and successful transition to the new LMS.

3 – Build Comprehensive Course and Curricula Catalogs

Now that you completely understand your current learning environment and have agreed on your approach to capturing information, you can build comprehensive course and curricula catalogs to prepare for your LMS migration. You will use these catalogs to track and manage the new system’s courses and curricula you migrate.

You may think, “we already have a course catalog in the LMS; this process will be easy.” Not so fast. Before you assume you have this information at your fingertips, remember that your LMS generally stores only the information about content necessary for the LMS to perform its essential functions. Therefore, your course catalog should include most of the data stored in your LMS but many other fields that capture crucial characteristics of courses and assets.

Another simple but essential point is that your course catalog should exist OUTSIDE your LMS. The catalog should be standalone and apart from the LMS because A) at some point, your LMS will no longer be available to you; B) so that you can analyze course and asset information to decide which courses to migrate. If resources are limited, you may also use the information to establish course conversion and migration priority.

Ensure that your catalog includes information about when the content was last revised and Learner Groups that use the content. Later you will use this information to determine what content should and should not be moved to the new LMS. Also, capture information about the course developer and owner because sometimes courses need modifications before migrating to a new LMS.

4 – Document User Groups and Branches

User groups are essential in any Learning Management Platform as they provide a framework for organizing learners based on various criteria such as departments, office locations, organizational levels, and franchises. It is important to clearly understand the current processes and structure that the system uses to enroll learners in courses.

In addition, it is crucial to consider ad-hoc groupings that administrators or instructors may have created for specific purposes. These groupings may not be part of the standard organizational structure, but they can still play a significant role in how learners access courses and content. Therefore, it is essential to comprehensively understand these organizational structures and ensure they are supported and implemented in the new LMS.

To achieve this, it may be necessary to review existing documentation, such as enrollment reports, and consult with LMS administrators or other stakeholders. It is also advisable to develop a plan for testing the enrollment process and user group functionality in the new system to ensure that it meets the organization’s needs. A thorough understanding of user groups and enrollment processes is critical in designing and implementing an LMS that effectively supports the organization’s learning goals.

5 – Catalog Notifications Used by the System

The Catalog Notifications Used by the System step is critical in ensuring that the learning experience remains seamless during migration. Notifications inform learners of their progress, provide feedback on enrollments, and help them stay on track with their learning goals. However, migrating notifications from one LMS to another can be time-consuming and require configuring each notification individually in the new system.

The migration process requires that the migration team document each notification in the current system. This documentation should include the name or associated code, purpose of notification, notification text, delivery type (e.g., email, text, etc.), trigger event, schedules, course and user assignments, filters, user roles, associated courses, graphics used in notification, and related shortcodes.

The number of notifications in the system can be significant for some organizations, making it necessary to create a notification catalog to ensure success during conversion. By documenting these details, the migration team can accurately recreate each notification in the new system, minimizing disruptions to the learning experience.

6 – Plan for LMS Data Migration

Migrating LMS data can be daunting for any migration team, as it involves identifying and moving the data from the current system to the new one. It can also be challenging because most team members are not database experts and may not have experience dealing with internal system data. However, planning and working with your IT contact can help streamline the process and reduce migration time.

Assuming you have not yet selected a new LMS system, now is the time to start planning for data migration. Begin by working with your IT contact to identify and extract the data fields used by your current system. While your current LMS provider may be able to assist you, keep in mind that they may have little incentive to help you migrate to a competitor system.

This phase aims to comprehensively understand the data stored in your current LMS system, including everyday learning events. You will also need to determine the name of each field in the database, including the term used by your current LMS database and the common name used by your organization. IT experts often use the term “data mapping” to describe this process, resulting in a map from the old system to the new one.

Data migration is critical to transitioning to a new LMS system, and proper planning and execution can help ensure a successful transition. By understanding the data stored in your current system and mapping it to the new one, you can help reduce disruptions and minimize the time required for migration.

The process typically comprises five phases to successfully migrate data from the current LMS to a new system. These phases include

  • Identifying and extracting data from the current system
  • Cataloging data fields with more user-friendly names and descriptions
  • Evaluating what data to migrate,
  • Testing to ensure the accuracy of the data
  • Migrating the data to the new LMS.

The first four phases are critical and often consume the most time, requiring coordination with technical and vendor resources. It’s essential to note that evaluating which data to migrate may require input from leadership and the IT department to ensure compliance with legal requirements. Furthermore, these phases can begin before the new platform selection, saving valuable time during implementation.

7 – Identify System Integrations To and From Your LMS

It is crucial to have a basic understanding of the integrations between your LMS and other systems, even if you are not a technical expert. These integrations can include various business systems such as HRIS, CRM, and ERP. During the LMS migration process, it is important to evaluate how the new system will support each integration and consider if any additional integrations need to be implemented.

There are various technologies that can be used for integrations, and one increasingly popular option is an application programming interface (API). It is essential to work closely with your IT team to understand what functions are currently supported by your API and what changes may need to be made for the new system. Your team may need to implement new API calls or adjust existing ones to ensure that the integrations continue to function smoothly in the new system.

By taking the time to understand and manage your LMS integrations, you can help ensure a successful migration process and avoid disruptions to your organization’s workflows.

8 – Catalog Development Documents and Assets

It is essential to identify the development assets and artifacts for the migration process, such as SCORM files, design documents, project files, and storyboards. Access to these assets can significantly aid in re-creating or republishing custom courses in the new system. In addition, identifying any courses that may be challenging to modify is crucial, as this will aid in resource allocation and prioritization.

Starting this process long before migration will help you identify incomplete or missing assets that may present a significant challenge during the migration process. If you find missing assets, consider one of the strategies below to mitigate time and cost once the migration project begins.

First, determine if your LMS supports exporting content in its original format for upload and configuration in a new system. This option will always be the fastest and most efficient method when possible. If exporting from your current LMS is not an option, contact the original content creators or subject matter experts to obtain the missing assets or gather additional information about the courses.

If the content owner cannot provide the necessary assets, you may consider using screen recordings, documentation, and user feedback to reconstruct the courses as accurately as possible. In some cases, reverse-engineering the courses to identify the design and development decisions may be necessary. Redesigning courses or developing new content may also be required to ensure they are compatible with the new system.

Having a clear strategy for managing incomplete or missing assets is crucial to minimize disruptions during the migration process and ensure a successful implementation of the new system. Employing these strategies will streamline the migration process and launch the new system with minimal issues.

LMS Migration Checklist Wrap-Up

To some, upgrading to a new LMS and getting organized for the move can be daunting. Sticking with the current system may seem easier, especially if you inherited it and were not involved in its original setup.

However, it’s essential to recognize that many organizations are in the same boat. The lack of current documentation for training assets is a common issue. Consider proposing a mini project to prepare for future migration and create an accounting of the current environment.

By doing so, you can justify the upfront investment by pointing out that it will save time and consulting fees later in the project. In addition, establishing and documenting the factors mentioned above is crucial to assist your team, consultant, or vendor in accurately estimating conversion and migration efforts.

At SkillQ, we understand the challenges of handling a learning environment and preparing for an upcoming LMS upgrade. With our experience and knowledge, we can assist you in building a more effective learning experience for your organization. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

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