Is your learning platform worth the license fee?

January 25th, 2021

We are not wedded to proving a certain learning solution or platform at BuildEmpire, we prefer to work to the customers requirements and then propose what we feel the most efficient route is, and what baseline product solution provides the most value.

There are well-known free open source solutions that split opinion across the sector (cough, Moodle, cough), and what they provide for next to no cost is simply outstanding; but they don't tick every requirement, and certainly not when it comes to professional development.

Thankfully, learning management systems with an accompanying targeted professional development feature set are relatively commonplace too, but in almost all cases, they come with some form of scalable license fee.

And organisations don't like it.

User based pricing is a regular model in software, and especially within cloud based or Software as a Service (SaaS) based solutions. Typically organisations have no issue paying for an additional license of Microsoft 365, or on their Human Resources (HR) system, but the concept appears alien for a learning management system.

I’ve had numerous conversations across our customer base where the decision makers are naturally opposed to the pricing of a learning platform that scales as their users numbers do.

But why?

It’s in the perceived value

Learning Management Systems are common enough to almost be commoditised, and the perceived value of them has been undervalued by the existence of popular low cost or free options that provide a high baseline of functionality. Transforming the mindset from that starting position with effectively “just” an additional set of features is a difficult one.

The power of the features that these commercial platforms bring, however, can genuinely be game-changing for organisations.

I very rarely hear this argument with a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) for instance, as the available options in this market still remain at a not inconsequential cost, and their associated feature set is often not commonly found or replicated to low cost alternatives.

How I demonstrate value

Translating a feature set that is in a paid tier of a platform to a business use case or tangible benefit is often a successful approach in demonstrating value to the organisation.

I have tended to discover that focusing on the elements of the functionality that can streamline the business operations can help explain the value much more succinctly. 

Here are some examples of translating features to organisational benefit:


Feature: HR Import functionality that can automatically add users to your learning platform when they are added to the business.

Benefit: That’s real time a team member has just clawed back.


Feature: Grouping courses into programmes to allow for controlled pre-requisite driven learner journeys.

Benefit: That’s a configure and forget administration time saver for your L&D department.


Feature: Certifications with automatic recertification requirements.

Benefit: A logistical headache has been given a shot of paracetamol, and your organisation stays on top of its obligations.


Feature: Multiple authentication providers and single sign on solutions.

Benefit: That’s a lot of end user friction that you have greased, enabling end-user adoption within your business.


Feature: Integrated, face to face, in-person or virtual event management.

Benefit: True blended learning solutions like this may even make additional software tools surplus to requirements and provide a real cost reduction.


In Summary

The power of the features that these commercial platforms bring can genuinely be game-changing for organisations who understand them and fully embed the functionality across their business. If learning providers can eloquently illustrate the added value to their customer, they can easily utilise this same approach to remove or reduce the license roadblocks that their stakeholders may build.

When we master the art of demonstrating value, we can accomplish the more valuable result of enabling every individual to learn.