Thursday, December 03, 2009

SAP, Sharepoint or specialist LMS?

The following is a response I recently posted to a question on the LSG discussion site concerning the use of SAP or Sharepoint as an LMS versus "well-known" LMS products (in the case of the question, he cited Moodle and Kallidus). Thought the response might be of interest to a broader community ...

The short answer is "depends on what you want to do with your LMS"! Or "horses for courses" as the saying goes.

In our experience, the selection of an ERP LMS solution (SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft) tends to be driven by strategic IT issues rather than functional fit or the needs of learners or L&D. Whilst the SAP Enterprise Learning platform continues to improve in functionality, there is still a functional gap vs best of breed platforms. There is also a tendancy for ERP platforms to be positioned as "effectively free" as the organisation has already committed to the HR platform. This is highly misleading as there is typically an incremental license for the LMS (e.g. for SAP EL over and above SAP HR), and the implementation costs for the ERP LMS are typically larger than best of breed alternatives.

There is a lot of interest in portal-led learning solutions currently, and the integration of LMS functionality into Sharepoint is becoming a common question. Currently we would not consider either the SLK or Sharepoint LMS as an enterprise class option. That doesn't mean you shouldn't consider them, just that you need to be very clear they will meet your specific tactical requirements as they are unlikely to meet the common requirements of a corporate standard LMS platform. Our concern currently is that a corporates will get sucked into creating custom LMS solutions in Sharepoint; a strategy we certainly wouldn't recommend (with any portal platform).

Interestingly you then refer to well-known LMSs such as Moodle or Kallidus. Kallidus is clearly a corporate LMS that has historically been successful in mid-tier companies, and is increasingly winning business in larger enterprises as well.

Moodle is not however really an LMS. It is (in academic speak) a Virtual Learning Environment or Course Management System. We have recently completed specific research on the relevance of Moodle to the corporate market (results to hopefully be published in the new year). Whilst Moodle can provide an effective e-learning launch and track platform, it needs significant customisation or add-on functionality to fulfil the role of a corporate LMS. A number of companies (e.g. Aardpress, Kineo, Remote Learner etc.) have developed extensions to do this, but in our research through corporate Moodle adopters, we really struggled to find good examples of companies using Moodle as an enterprise LMS.

Hope this is helpful. Happy to discuss further offline if you want to email me (

Regards, David.