Why do you need to write a brief?

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” —Benjamin Franklin

Without a plan in place, attempting to build your e-learning platform will be tricky; you’ll run into hurdles such as changes to the scope and deliverables, as well as unforeseen challenges during development. These issues can be costly in terms of time and budget. 

Similarly to any software development project, one without a plan or structure will quickly turn into a nightmare. The answer? Define your LMS getting sign off from stakeholders before you start any design or development work. 

Don’t  believe us? Here are some stats on why you need an LMS brief*:

  • On average, clients who have a brief are typically able to move forward with the project within two weeks 
  • With a brief, clients can save between £5,000 – £10,000 in development costs
  • Clients with an LMS brief mitigate any unexpected costs or delays that arise from redefining or planning unforeseen aspects of the project.

*These stats are based on clients who prepared a brief and went through our Needs Analysis.

Free template

Want to create your own LMS brief as part of your plan to create, scale or optimise your LMS? First, we suggest you read through this article to gain a deeper understanding of the approach and insight you’ll need before you start writing anything.

You can find the template at the end of the article.

How to write an LMS brief?

Whether you’re approaching creating a custom elearning platform from scratch, or upgrading your current LMS there are questions you need to ask yourself and your team in order to write a clear brief that can be sent across to your elearning agency.

All our clients go through a Needs Analysis to ensure we fully understand:

  • The purpose of the LMS
  • The needs of your learners and other users
  • The features and functionality for each user
  • Your preferred/ existing technology

1. What’s the purpose of the LMS?

Going beyond simple statements such as, “to educate learners” or “to make money”, try to identify the key problem you are solving and address how/why your elearning will provide a solution. Perhaps the innovation is within the content, then again, maybe it’s in the features or the delivery. 

It’s important to be very clear about why you’re developing your system early on to ensure that everyone is in agreement and those with a stake in the LMS are given the opportunity to input, expand on and clarify these objectives.

Another way to approach this might be to look at the LMS’ primary purpose(s) and then break this down into secondary, and even tertiary objectives.

2. Who are your users?

Defining your users, how they fit into the plan for the LMS and beginning to outline their permissions is a key exercise in creating your brief. From discussions around your users you’ll be able to identify the functionality they require, the varying permissions they might have and even other users or features you hadn’t considered before.

For example, you might want your system to be used by multiple organisations and their employees. Therefore, Organisation admins would be one group, their employees would be another etc.

3. What features do you need?

In this section, you want to specify your features and functionality. Why do you need this LMS? What features do you want to improve upon in this iteration (if you’re building a new LMS)? 

Most importantly, you need to justify why you need these features so that your LMS partner can understand the context and reasoning behind these choices.

You might find it easiest to break this section down into the following:

  • Course content
  • Course delivery
  • Awards/ assessments
  • Admin needs
  • Learner needs
  • Interactive features
  • Ecommerce and marketing
  • Other features

4. Who will upload the content?

Before working with an agency, it’s important to get an understanding of exactly what your role will be in the development and delivery of your custom LMS so that expectations (and budget for this can be managed early on. If you have a team of course content creators, graphic designers and your own IT team, note down their responsibility in the context of the elearning platform.

  • What information/ documentation will they supply?
  • Is there a technical team that will be offering support to the developers of the LMS?
  • Who will be uploading course content and at what point in development will this need to be done?
  • Are there any current users/ data that needs to be migrated?

5. Create a digital roadmap (optional)

An optional extra depending on the complexity of your system or user types/permissions, producing a Digital Roadmap could be an essential step in order for multiple stakeholders to understand the vision and direction of your proposed LMS.

“A Digital Roadmap assembles existing functional requests and desired marketing approaches into a narrative or story of where you want your company to be at certain points in the future. Assembling your needs into a narrative makes it easier for stakeholders to understand and contribute positively to the direction of the company.” Joss Hutton, Project Manager

Your initial Digital Roadmap can be as simple as this bare-bones example, giving internal stakeholders an idea of where the business needs to go and prompting internal discussion.

Other considerations

  • When do you plan on launching?
  • Will the delivery of the LMS be in phases; if so, what do these phases look like?
  • Is there a specific sign off process in place?
  • Is there a key contact managing the project? If so, what permissions do they have to sign off work?
  • Will there need to be a minimum viable product? If so, will this need to be demos, and to who?

Building a custom LMS with Plume

If you want to talk to a member of the team about putting together a brief, or would simply like to have an introductory call so we can understand more about your project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.