tms vs lms: what's the difference? training management system vs learning management system explained by training orchestraWhat’s the difference between a Training Management System and Learning Management System? (Your Go-To TMS vs LMS Guide)

When you search “training management” or “training management system” online, the number of results can be overwhelming or even a little confusing. While there may be several different definitions of training management out there today, one training management system (TMS) can vary widely from the next. In addition, there are other learning technology systems, like the learning management system (LMS), that may seem very similar. While it’s okay for the casual viewer to confuse the two, the mix-up can be pretty unforgiving for your business if you end up purchasing one, while mistaking it for the other. So, what is training management? And, what’s the difference between a Training Management System and Learning Management System?

In this article we’ll review everything you need to know about a training management system and learning management system, creating your go-to guide for navigating your way around these two key learning technologies, so you can better manage your classroom and virtual classroom training (ILT / vILT) scheduling and operations!

TMS vs LMS: The Most Important Point You Need to Know First

The main difference between a TMS vs LMS is that the TMS manages instructor-led and virtual instructor-led training operations and is built for the training administrator, whereas the LMS manages eLearning and is built for the learner. The two systems are complementary to each other.

However, there’s so much more to it. So, let’s drill down the details! This detailed article includes:

What is training management?

Definition: Training management is the practice of directing and organizing all of the back-end instructor-led training (ILT) and virtual instructor-led training (vILT) activities for your organization, including scheduling, logistics, resource management, instructor engagement, team collaboration, cost tracking, budgeting, sales, and reporting.

Before we drill down into further detail, let’s clarify a couple more definitions.

What is a Training Management System (TMS)?

Definition: A Training Management System streamlines and optimizes the back-office training processes for ILT and vILT. Essentially, training management software provides a more efficient way for training organizations to manage, track, and sell training.

What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?

Definition: A Learning Management System is a software that helps manage eLearning, by enabling content management, course delivery, and progress tracking.

Are the differences between a training management system vs a learning management system clearer? Hopefully a little bit. Keep reading and we’ll get into the detailed differences step by step.

Instructor-Led Training vs eLearning: What’s the Difference?

In today’s learning environment, the effectiveness between instructor-led training vs eLearning is frequently discussed, but the two are often used together as part of a blended learning approach. Instructor-Led Training is more traditional, classroom training that takes place face-to-face with your learners. This can also include virtual training led by an instructor, or vILT.  Whereas, eLearning is web-based and courses can be taken at anytime while online. Since the two are distinct, there are different ways of managing each.

A Training Resource Management System helps you with in-person classroom training and virtual instructor-led training management. Building complex schedules? Assigning trainers and resources to classes? Tracking costs per session, region, or business unit? These are the sort of things that you can expect your training management software to do for you. Other terms often used interchangeably with a training management software system are a course management system, seminar management system, and the like.

A learning management system, on the other hand, is a software dedicated to managing your eLearning. It allows content managers to organize, deliver, and monitor online courses through an end-user interface. 

training orchestra training management system
Meet Training Orchestra!
Watch a quick 3-minute demo.
Of course, the training management system and learning management system can complement each other. Therefore, this is why organizations that incorporate both classroom and virtual training might choose to invest in both types of software. Whether you’re using ILT / vILT learning experiences and eLearning separately, or together in blended learning scenarios, you’ll want training software that can interface with each other to give you a solution tailored to your needs.

Back-office (TMS) vs Front-office (LMS)

There’s only a one-word difference between these two expressions, but it’s an important one. A training management software system is focused on organizing training sessions and is built for training administrators. Its core is its training back-office features and capabilities, and it is centered on your organization’s processes. The core training management system features you should look for in a TMS include those focused on scheduling and resource management, operations and logistics, financial planning and performance, reporting, and sales cycle management. Most TMS’s today incorporate some end-user portals as well.

Who uses a training management system on a day-to-day basis?

Those who use a training management system on a daily basis include key stakeholders such as:

  • Training managers
  • HR professionals
  • Training companies
  • Extended enterprises which train external audiences (clients, partners, dealers, etc.)
  • Corporate university directors
  • And more!

A Learning Management System, however, is focused on registration and delivery processes and is built for the learners. It is centered on this interaction with the learners, so the number and diversity of day-to-day users are much larger. Of course, training managers will still oversee the training administered through the LMS, as well as track course completion and learner progress. As such, the end-user experience is at the center of the software, and much of its value lies in the fluidity and intuitiveness of its front-end user interface.

training manager's guide to high efficiency operations
Download the Training Manager’s Guide
to High Efficiency Operations

Training Administration (TMS) vs Content Delivery (LMS)

You might have guessed from the previous point that a Training Management System is not the tool you want if you need something to manage content. It’s the tool you want to ensure that all the processes that happen before and after the class are as streamlined as possible. This is why it’s sometimes called a Training Administration Software System or Course Management System.

On the contrary, the LMS is a tool for content delivery. If you’re trying to find a way to optimally manage and deliver eLearning content to your trainees, you’re in the right place. If you want to improve your operational processes, your sales cycle, or your budget monitoring, you’d be better served by training management software.

What Processes Are Handled by a Training Management System vs Learning Management System?

A Training Management System typically takes care of all your back-office processes:

  • Organizing logistics and resources
  • Course calendar management and scheduling: live online or virtual training, in-person sessions, workshop management, and more
  • Handling instructor-led training administration – virtual or classroom-based training (registration confirmations, reminder emails…)
  • Monitoring financials (tracking costs and profitability, forecasting budgets…)
  • Creating reports and business intelligence
  • Managing orders and invoices, for commercial training companies and extended enterprise

A Learning Management System typically handles the processes related to online course planning, delivery, and assessment:

  • Creating eLearning courses
  • Uploading content
  • Delivering courses online
  • Enrolling students
  • Communicating with students
  • Tracking and assessing learner performance

So, what are the actual features you should look for in a training management system software?

What Training Management System Features Should I Look for in a Training Management Tool?

There are many great training management system features that make it a core layer in the learning tech stack and a key complement to the LMS. These features ensure that you have the best training management software to manage your overall training activity most efficiently. We’ve broken the training management system features into 5 categories below.

Top 20 Training Management System Features

Scheduling and Resource Management Features

These training management system features ease the complexities of scheduling and managing your instructors and other strategic training resources:

1. Resource management
2. Graphical course scheduling
3. Instructor engagement portal

Operations and Logistics Features

Helping administrators optimize and automate the operations and logistics of training are these must-have training management features:

4. To-do list consolidation
5. Regulation and compliance monitoring
6. Global language and currency support
7. Automated administration
8. Registration management
9. Internal collaboration
10. Audience integration

Financial Planning, and Performance Features

The ability to quantify the value of training and find efficiencies is the reality for today’s training administrators with these features:

11. Training budget management and optimization
12. Sales and profitability monitoring
13. Real-time cost tracking
14. Certification tracking
15. Training plan management

Reporting Features

These training reporting features, help training managers to create meaningful reports, and better understand the data to gain valuable insights:

16. Centralized business analytics and real-time KPIs
17. Fully customizable reports
18. Automated processes and data centralization

Sales Cycle Management Features

For those who manage and sell training as a business, these key training management system features will help to track and manage vital sales activities:

19. Sales cycle management
20. Training catalog and customer success portal

>> Ready to dive deeper into these top training management system features? Download the e-book: Top 20 Training Management System Features: The Complete Checklist. <<

TMS vs LMS Summary

To summarize, here is a visual that illustrates the differences between the Training Management System and Learning Management System in terms of purpose, features and audience:

what is a training management system? training management system and learning management system differences: tms vs lms

I wish I could tell you that things are always this clear-cut. However, the reality is that lines do tend to get blurry. Some LMSs might have elements to handle classroom training and virtual Instructor-Led Training, while some TMSs might incorporate a form of eLearning management.

This is where you need to decipher marketing from actual purpose and capabilities, and closely assess your needs. Ask:

  • What is your share of instructor-led training vs eLearning?
  • Does your difficulty lie more in content management and course delivery, or in logistics, cost tracking, and administrative processes? Can your current software handle those items as in-depth as you’d like?
  • What is the core purpose of the software you’re looking at? Which features are central and which ones are peripheral, and will you be able to get good support on all these features?

These types of questions will help you determine what kind of software, between a Training Management System and Learning Management System, really fits your training needs.

What is the best Training Management System?

The best Training Management System is one that fits your organization’s needs and goals and can integrate with the other critical technologies you’re using. Although there are many systems available in the corporate learning ecosystem today, you’ll want to find a TMS that has implemented industry best practices and is dedicated to the success of your organization.

What is the best Learning Management System?

We often get asked what the best LMS is to complement the TMS. There are hundreds of Learning Management Systems available today. However, some are more specifically designed to fit certain learning and development needs. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a system that can tailor to your organization’s needs and align with your goals. Our Training Management System is designed to fit different needs and goals, and it complements and seamlessly integrates with the LMS. We have extensive experience with leading LMS providers, and we’re happy to help provide the expertise and experience that you need.

To learn more about the Training Management System, check our 5-minute guide to the TRMS and get the key facts and figures.

 

About Training Orchestra

training orchestra demo series: unlocking the power of a training management system
Register for the Training Orchestra Demo Series now!

Training Orchestra helps learning professionals optimize the performance of their operations while maximizing their training investment. As a leading Training Resource Management System (TRMS) with more than 600 satisfied clients worldwide, Training Orchestra supports the entire training process from planning and budgeting, scheduling and logistics, to sales and reporting. The integrated solution empowers teams to collaborate effortlessly, enabling L&D Departments, Training Companies, extended enterprise, associations and more, to “Train More with Less.

To find out more about how Training Orchestra can become your best partner in optimizing training operations, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts. Or, request a demo below. Let us help you tackle your goals!

Request a Training Management Software Demo