Course Management System, or Course Management Software.
If you’ve never heard of a course management system or course management software before, you might have guessed that it has something to do with training (you’re right!). You might have also guessed that it’s some kind of software system (right again!).
But there are dozens of software that fit this description: Content Management System, Learning Management System, Talent Management System. Which does what? And for whom? It’s getting harder and harder to decipher exactly what you’re looking at. So here are some elements to help you decode the specificity and characteristics of the Course Management Software System.
What is a Course Management System or Course Management Software?
A Course Management Software System, also called a Training Resource Management System (or Training Management System) is an enterprise software system dedicated to training organizations, whose core purpose is to help administrators optimize Instructor-Led Training management. To break a course management system down:
- “Course”: The system focuses on the needs and processes particular to Instructor-Led Training. It is specifically designed for training organizations, whether corporate training departments or for-profit training companies.
- “Management”: It helps you organize, streamline and monitor all of your back-office training processes, such as logistics and resource management, scheduling, administration, financials, and reporting – as well as sales for commercial training companies.
- “System”: It is an all-in-one software which unifies into a single system all sorts of processes which would otherwise be handled through multiple tools, such as a mix of spreadsheets, course booking systems, a CRM.
What can I use a Course Management System for?
A Course Management Software System is made to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of your instructor-led training. Some of the common features that can help you do this are:
- Logistics and resource management – How do I organize sessions and assign resources in the most cost-effective way?
- Course scheduling – How do I create and quickly modify the optimal training schedule to fit everyone’s agenda?
- Registration administration – How do I keep track of registration confirmations, reminder emails, and important data for thousands of trainees, avoiding mistakes or delays?
- Instructor-Led Training Financials – How do I track costs, forecast budgets and monitor profitability details for each session?
- Reporting and business intelligence – How do I extract meaningful information to assess the success of my training activity and make the right decisions in real time?
- Sales – (for commercial training companies and extended enterprise) – How do I streamline the whole order to invoice process to serve my clients in a timely and reliable manner?
While some Course Management Systems might also include front-end portals, a Course Management Software System is at heart a back-office software.
What a Course Management System is Not!
Within the learning technologies ecosystem, the Course Management System has to be differentiated from two related software:
- The Talent Management System, which as its name indicates, is a more general tool to help you strategically manage talent. This might include some light training features, but mostly consolidates HR features such as recruiting, onboarding, succession planning, and so on.
- The Learning Management System, designed to help you manage and deliver e-learning courses. This is centered on the front-end interaction with the learners.
To summarize, the Course Management Software System’s specificity regarding these two types of software is clear. Unlike the Talent Management System, it is specifically designed to manage training processes. As such, it provides deeper functionalities relevant to training organizations. And unlike the LMS, it is centered on the management of instructor-led training, and focuses on optimizing back-office processes.
Audience of the Course Management System
Training organizations of all sizes – from a few hundred to several thousand trainees per year – which manage a significant part of instructor-led training use Course Management Software. For example:
- Corporate training departments
- Commercial training companies
- Extended enterprises which train external audiences (clients, partners, dealers, etc.)
- Corporate universities, consolidating the training practice within a corporate group
More specifically, the people who will interact with the Course Management System on a day-to-day basis are key stakeholders involved in the management of training. These are HR directors, training managers and administrators, sales, and so on.
So we’ve seen what Course Management Software does. But the more important question is: is it really that necessary?
The most basic answer is this: instructor-led training is the most widespread type of training today. According to Brandon Hall Group, 66% of companies use the classroom to a very high extent, far more than any other method. The number reaches 76% for high-performing companies. ILT is irreplaceable for many domains, such as technical and leadership training, where the social and hands-on aspect of learning is invaluable. Despite these known benefits, it suffers from a bad reputation in terms of cost-effectiveness. This is because the back-office processes that it entails are often not optimally managed.
This is where the Course Management System comes in. By streamlining all these back-office processes, it is the core system which enables organizations to deliver efficient instructor-led-training. It also optimizes the overall training activity.