Advice | May 24, 2022

What is a learning management system (LMS)?

7 minute read

The ultimate guide to understanding the wonderful world of the learning management system (LMS)

When beginning your search for a learning management system (LMS) it can feel a bit overwhelming, with endless eLearning jargon and people offering a variety of different problems and challenges one can be used to solve.

In this handy LMS guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to easily get to grips with the fundamentals of a learning management system.

What is a LMS?

You’ve been asked to look for an LMS, so the first thing you need to do is understand exactly what is meant by the term.

LMS stands for ‘learning management system’. It’s a platform used by businesses to upload, deliver, manage and report on online learning and training activities. LMS’s are typically available on a SaaS (software-as-a-service) model, although some are licensed products.

If you’ve been on a workplace training programme, had to complete mandatory online learning at any stage of your career, or have been required to do some health and safety eLearning before starting a new job, then you’ve probably used a learning maangement system to access the content.

As demands evolve, along with technological developments, so too do the types of learning management systems available. Most recently, the learner experience platforms (LXP) have emerge, which often prioritise the software’s look and feel, and offer learners the opportunity to lead their learning journeys. There are fundamental differences between LXP and LMS platforms, and you should be sure to understand the features and functionalities of each before deciding which solution is right for your organisation.

Much like Netflix is an online repository of content, hosting thousands of films and series (and suggesting relevant content based on user behaviour and patterns), an LMS is an online system that hosts a range of learning materials, delivers content most closely aligned with user interest, and tracks progress.

We’ve established what a learning management system is – but who uses such a platform?


Who uses an LMS?

LMS platforms can have a variety of applications, from workplaces through to higher education. Most often, businesses (ranging from small-to-medium businesses, through to enterprises) use learning management systems to assist learners across the employee lifecycle – from onboarding, compliance and mandatory training, to upskilling and re-skilling.

There is no defined size or type of organisation that stands to benefit from using an LMS, and businesses across the globe are realising that most employees prefer their learning to be delivered online. However, different organisations may use an LMS for slightly different reasons. An small company with hundreds of employees may use an LMS primarily to make it easier to manage general employee learning, whereas large enterprises with thousands of workers could use an LMS to ensure compliance across complex business structures spanning multiple locations.

Delivering learning throughout an organisation can be a time-consuming task with many different aspects to consider, even more so across a hybrid and remote workforce. The advantages of using an LMS for eLearning are significant for employees, as well as for their managers.


What is an LMS used for?

The right learning management system is adaptable to fit multiple purposes, and it will also support the needs of various stakeholders across the business – including the executive team, HR and L&D teams, and, of course, employees themselves.

The overarching purpose of a learning management system is to deliver relevant learning content that addresses varied (and often, frequently changing) training needs. This can include management training, soft skills training, compliance training (especially in heavily regulated industries, like the financial sector), and even product training (although that is typically delivered to customers and partners via extended enterprise learning management systems.)

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the most typical uses of an LMS:

Onboarding and inductions

As businesses are subject to frequent change, often HR administrators spend a lot of time updating onboarding resources, only for them to be out-of-date a few months later. Using an LMS, they can easily welcome new employees with the ability to quickly amend induction information and can even send out onboarding programmes for new starters to complete before their first day.


Product and sales learning

An LMS allows businesses to quickly get staff up to speed on any new products or processes, making it especially useful for equipping sales teams with all the knowledge they need to attract new prospects.


LMS compliance training

Although its often dreaded, businesses of all sizes have a legal obligation to ensure completion of compliance learning, such as GDPR or health and safety. A learning management system allows businesses to easily administer and document compliance learning, and report on completion rates. As some industries, such as insurance, require their employees to complete a number of continuing professional development (CPD) hours, the LMS provides them with the tools to monitor these hours throughout their business.

Read our case study on Jardine Motor Group using our Digits LMS to deliver annual GDPR training


Skills development

Recognised as a top priority for L&D, more frequently companies use their LMS to identify skills gaps and recommend appropriate learning resources to develop soft skills, prepare employees for their next career move, or enhance skillsets to align with industry changes.


Classroom-based training

Despite an LMS being designed to deliver digital learning content, one of its key features is scheduling, assigning, monitoring and recording a mix of face-to-face and online learning activities – a mix that’s known as blended learning.

Discover what Specsavers had to say on how Digits’ LMS helped them create a blended learning strategy


What are the main LMS benefits?

We’ve discovered the primary uses of an LMS, but how does an LMS make it easier for businesses to achieve these goals? There are many ‘less obvious’ advantages to using an LMS for businesses and learners.



Organising employee training is a time-consuming task with multiple things to consider, from assigning learning to different departments and regions, scheduling classroom learning, and tracking learning completion. With an LMS, you can automate learning activities and reports, as well as using the classroom booking function to send automatic reminders for face-to-face or online learning, saving time manually organising training.


Reduce cost

From the cost of L&D or HR teams spending time booking training to the cost of hiring trainers and speakers, delivering training can be an expensive task. However, an LMS helps you save time and money by enabling you to administer learning digitally. A top LMS provider, such as Digits, will support you with a library of off-the-shelf learning content, or work with you to create bespoke eLearning content for your organisation.


Report on learning

Because compliance is one of the biggest reasons for needing to deliver employee training, reporting provides a huge benefit to organisations. Using reporting, businesses can track employee learning and ensure they’re meeting compliance regulations, as well as assess business performance.


Drive learner engagement

Thanks to the flexibility of an LMS, organisations can use the platform to make learning engaging by uploading and delivering multiple types of learning, from eLearning to online assessments and quizzes.


Learn anytime, anywhere

Nothing demotivates a learner more than not letting them complete learning at a time that suits them, or not giving them the freedom to explore additional resources. With an LMS, learners can access learning at a time and place that meets their needs, as well as explore a range of learning activities to develop skills.


Meet multiple training needs from a single platform

Rather than using different software or spreadsheets to monitor each learning requirement, an LMS allows businesses to achieve multiple learning goals from one system. From induction and compliance to product learning and CPD, businesses can upload, deliver and track various types of learning via one user-friendly system.


What are the common LMS features?

Although all platforms vary slightly with their range of functionality, there are common LMS features that you should expect from your system. Typical LMS features include:

  • Learning assignment and scheduling
  • Ability to upload a range of learning resources, in different formats
  • User management
  • Reports and dashboards
  • Course management
  • Classroom training booking
  • Automated admin tasks (such as enrolling users and sending course reminders)
  • Learning pathways
  • Skills gap analysis
  • Social learning
  • Gamified features (such as badges, points and leaderboards)
  • Certificates
  • Mobile learning
  • Integration with HR software to create a 360-degree view of your people


What makes Digits LMS different?

In addition to the above LMS features, our award-winning platform, Digits LMS, provides advanced functionality that tailors the system to your learning requirements. Don’t fit your training around a system – find the LMS that can be personalised to your learning needs.


Deliver learning in complex organisation structures

Working with leading brands that have multiple franchises or a range of locations and offices, we specialise in helping businesses easily deliver and track learning in even the most complicated organisational structures.


Content management capabilities

With learning requirements changing regularly, there’s no reason to be stuck with a static design. Personalise, configure, and brand your LMS to deliver the most personalised learning experience yet.

Kia Motors UK used Digits’ customisable dashboard to deliver their new credit-based reward system. Read the full case study.



More than ‘just’ a SaaS system, Digits LMS makes it easier to achieve your objectives thanks to its high level of customisation. The advanced functionality allows us to create custom widgets to help make day-to-day admin tasks quicker to access, make specific LMS pages for key learning requirements and design custom dashboards and reports, all specific to your business. But don’t take our word for it; here’s what our customer, Vaultex, had to say: “The functionality helps businesses to create and configure a system to work for them; instead of having to bend the business around a system.”


Engaging visual learning journeys

Our award-winning visual learning journeys guide users on a visual pathway of learning, creating an interactive learning experience where learners complete activities to earn badges or points that place them on a leaderboard. Using the journey builder, administrators can easily create their own visual learning journeys personalised to their business by adding brand images and content.


Identify skills gaps and recommend learning

Using Digits LMS’ skills gap analysis tool, learners can complete skills assessments, invite managers and peers for 180° and 360° reviews, and download PDF reports that recommend learning activities. This enables businesses to easily assess employee performance and support employees with career development.


Ready to explore the potential of your next LMS?

Download our brochure for more information on our LMS/LXP hybrid platform, or request a demo to experience it for yourself. If you’re wondering how you can choose the best LMS for your specific needs, get in touch with us today.

This article was first published in December 2019. It was updated in May 2022 for freshness, clarity and accuracy. 



Sophie Doust

Sophie Doust

Learning technology LMS Workplace training