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Want to switch learning platforms but stuck in contract? Here are 7 tips to help!

Being stuck in contract with an outdated provider doesn't mean you can't embrace the cutting edge of learning technology!

Ashley Parker Head of Implementation

Austin Powers stuck in hallway on a trolley

One of the best things about working in learning tech is that you get to meet so many new people from all over the world, and in vastly different industries. One thing that comes up a lot when speaking to new people (especially when I surreptitiously mention the THRIVE Learning & Skills Platform) is that they’d love to explore new tech options, but are stuck in a contract that they or their predecessor signed ages ago. 

Invariably, when I meet people who are in this situation, it’s because their L&D mindset has outgrown the capabilities of their platform. We’ve seen this multiple times when discussing our skills functionality, a lot of companies and L&D teams are ready to start tracking skills, but their platform just isn’t up to scratch.

If this is sounding eerily similar to your situation, then don’t worry! There’s a lot of things you can do whilst still in contract with an outdated provider to embrace the future of corporate learning.

Network, network,  network!

This is probably pretty generic advice for basically anyone who wants to advance their career or explore new avenues of innovation. But there’s a whole world of knowledge and experience out there, and you should be out there talking to people about what you want to achieve, your experiences in your industry and learning the tips and tricks of the trade from others who have actually done it!

Events like Learning Technologies, DevLearn and ATD are a great way to immerse yourself in the bleeding edge of learning technology, so make it a priority to get yourself to these events. This will mean you can see what other platforms and teams are capable of, isolate where you might be missing out and give yourself a great basis for initiating conversations with your current provider or potential new providers.

Compare features

It’s a very human fallacy to think that your experience with a learning platform is the same as other peoples experience with different learning platforms, but it’s simply not true! Learning platforms are incredibly diverse, with a bunch of different feature sets.

Start by getting a list of providers (put THRIVE right at the top) including your own and listing out the features they offer, and evaluating whether this is something you and your learners really use on a day-to-day basis or whether it has any real impact on your business goals. 

Also, don’t be afraid to book demos with other providers! These can usually be super quick and targeted to the problems you want to solve, meaning you get a sneak peak at another platform for free! If you are interested in seeing THRIVE, you can book a demo today or check out the recording of our latest webinar where we gave away a free sneak peak of the platform

Get feedback from your learners

With all the talk of platforms, skill strategies, campaigns and pathways, it can be easy to forget the real reason you are doing any of it in the first place : to give your learners an engaging experience. The first thing to do when you think that you may want to switch learning platforms is ask your learners about what they are experiencing with the platform, and start to work on a list for a potential upgrade. 

The key to this, is making sure that you are getting feedback from all of your learners, across all teams to give you the best picture of where you may be missing out. With this information, you can create agendas for talks with your current provider, use it as a filter to search for a new provider or also you can use it to start conversations with others at the networking events you are undoubtedly going to be attending now!

Take stock of content

One of the most important parts of a successful learning platform is the content on it. When you start to feel you have outgrown your platform, it’s the perfect time to take stock of what content you have, and isolate what's working for you, so you can start to explore ways to replicate that success on your current platform, or come up with a content launch strategy for your next platform. 

An important part of this process is to make sure you are looking not just at what content you have, but also how the platform you are using filters and recommends that content. We have spoken at length about the dangers of content chaos, so it’s imperative that you understand how easy or hard it is for your learners to find the content they are looking for. 

If they can’t, it’s time to start booking demos with other providers.

Get your stakeholders on side

Unfortunately, often L&D can work in silo from the wider business teams. In fact, this was the main reason we created our Data Lab service, to help L&D teams bridge that gap and prove real ROI from L&D initiatives. 

Depending on the size of your organisation, investing in a learning platform can be an expensive commitment, and one that’s definitely going to need approval from finance and operations teams. In some cases, vendors will even obfuscate their pricing which makes things much harder (not us though, we are always open and transparent about how much we charge).

By following the above steps, getting a really clear grasp of both the learning tech space and the shortcomings of your current tech stack, you can enter those discussions confidently and knowledgeably, and effortlessly wow all the stakeholders into understanding your mission.

If a platform takes your fancy, see if they offer a free trial or sandbox environment

So you’ve done all your research, dazzled event goers at every event under the sun, your stakeholders frequently end meetings by chanting your name and you’ve got an almost strange grasp of what content is currently available on your platform. However, there’s just that one platform you came across that you can’t get out of your mind. If you find yourself in this situation, then my advice is get bolshy!

See if they can offer you a free trial or a sandbox environment that you can play around in, or at the very least a hyper personalised demo so you can get a feel for how your brand would look on the platform. This is such a good way to try-before-you-buy and a way to cut through a lot of fluff that is propagated by sales and marketing teams.

Contract with a new vendor and ask for free until your renewal

Imagine you’ve tried the platform from the above in a free sandbox and you absolutely love it. It has a perfect UI, gives your learners an incredible experience and even has advanced functions for tracking all the skills in your organisation, letting you see skill gaps quickly and easily (sound familiar? 😉).

If you wanted to get started right away with your new platform but didn’t want to wait until you are out of contract, you could ask the new provider whether you could enter contracting with them, but for free until the contract with your old platform runs out. This helps you get started right away with your new platform, whilst not paying for two platforms at once. Bear in mind that providers aren’t always going to be able to provide you with this option, and it’s usually dependent on a tonne of factors, but if your contract is going to be a big one and you don’t have an extortionate amount of time on your old contract, it may be worth having a go!

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