Buyers Guide

Training Management Software Integrations

In this buyers guide you’ll discover how you can adopt a Training Management Software and integrate it with your other business applications.

Training management software connected to other business applications.

Make sure your systems can talk to each other

A TMS won’t be the only system you use on a daily basis, therefore to reap the full benefits of your investment it’s essential that the system you choose works with your current tech stack. Integration is integral for delivering slick, responsive services that benefit your customers and empower your employees, but when browsing for a system that integrates it’s also important to ask the following questions to clarify what is being delivered and how this will fit in with your pre-existing systems.

If you aren’t too sure what a TMS even is. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Training Management Software.

Not all integrations are created equal

Just because it says ‘integration’ on the box doesn’t mean you’ll get a smooth flow of data between your systems when it comes to putting it into practice. When researching TMSs don’t just skim the text and rely on buzz words to tick your boxes; examine the features and ask yourself, does the integration:

  • Need manual data pushing, such as exporting and importing data between two systems?
  • Require data cleansing and formatting in order for information to be passed between systems?
  • Allow data to flow both ways, or can it only go one way? This is important if you want to have up-to-date data on your backend and frontend. 
  • Update the data between your two systems frequently, and if so, does this work for your business? For example, does data syncing happen every 10 minutes or every hour? Neither option is superior so it’s up to you to decide if your business needs real-time data or not. 
  • Use a third-party middleware, and if this is the case, are there any hidden costs? Some integrations are marketed as performed through a third-party system like Zapier. On the surface these sound great, but make sure you test the behaviour and be aware of any additional costs. For example, Zapier charges a small fee per ‘zap’ every time data flows through its middleware.
  • Give you version control over your data? Do you find yourself wishing you had access to earlier versions of the files you’ve saved over? This handy feature tracks the changes made to your data over time and keeps a record of these versions that you can recall whenever you need. It essentially allows you to time travel backwards, so if you need to access a specific version of your data from two weeks ago, you can.

Be realistic

There are lots of features to consider when on the hunt for a TMS, however we also want to manage your expectations and say that it’s very unlikely to find a TMS provider that integrates perfectly with your tech stack. Pragmatism is key when working with a TMS, so be prepared to embark on a process rather than trying to reach a final destination.

Key systems to integrate

Ditch the need to double-up on data entry by researching and seeking out TMSs that can integrate with your current tech stack. Check for compatibility with the following systems:

Website Content Management System (CMS)

CMSs manage the digital content on your website. It allows users to create, edit and publish digital content. Examples of CMSs includeWordPress, Drupal and Silverstripe.

Things to consider:

  • When you edit course information in your TMS, does it automatically update on your website too?
  • Do registrations on your website automatically feedback to your TMS?

Payment Gateways

Payment Gateways authorise credit card and online payments for online retailers so that you can receive money from your registrants, often at your website checkout. Examples of payment gateways include Stripe, Authorize.Net and Payment Express.

Things to consider:

  • Are financial information and orders flowing into the CRM?
  • Can the forms in your TMS link to the secure payment gateway to take payment?

Accounting Systems

Accounting Systems help businesses to keep track of and report on all their transactions. Examples include Xero, Quickbooks and MYOB.

Things to consider:

  • Does financial information flow between the two systems, e.g. can you match payments received to outstanding invoices in your TMS?
  • Does the TMS create an invoice in the accounting system?
  • If an invoice is paid, is it marked as paid in both systems automatically?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

CRMs help businesses manage customer data, nurture relationships and track leads. Examples of CRMs include Salesforce, Hubspot and Microsoft Dynamics.

Things to consider:

  • Do registration information, grades and attendance information flow into the CRM?

Web Conferencing Tools

Web Conferencing Tools allow you to hold live meetings, conference calls, presentations and trainings over the internet. Examples of these tools include Zoom and GoToWebinar.

Things to consider:

  • Will meeting room links automatically be sent out in TMS communication to registrants?

Survey Tools

Survey Tools allow you to design surveys, send surveys, report on and analyse reports. Examples include Survey Monkey, Typeform and Qualtrics.

Things to consider:

  • Can the TMS send out links to survey, post conference attendance?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above questions, then the TMS you’re currently researching isn’t offering you a smooth flow of data between your systems. Using this training management system would require doubling up on data entry or risk your backend and frontend becoming mismatched.

Checklist: key things to consider when purchasing a Training Management System

Features

Examine whether the TMS in question will allow you to:

  • Integrate with your existing website, or if you don’t already have a website, does it have an easy to use website builder?
  • Take online payments and offer flexible payment plans? 
  • Enable you to customise your registration and checkout process?
  • Use an in-built CRM to keep track of all your customer interactions and business relationships?
  • Cut the admin and automate tasks involved in managing the lifecycle of your courses? 
  • Proactively market to your audience and help you grow business leads? 
  • Gain both a day-to-day snapshot and a bird’s-eye view of your business via customisable reports and data dashboards?
  • Integrate seamlessly with an LMS so that you can increase your offering and deliver effective elearning?

For more on the features you should be looking for in a TMS, check out our Buyers Guide to Key Features within a Training Management System.

Integrations

Find out what an ‘integration’ will allow you to do in practical terms:

  • Is the TMS compatible with all the systems in your current tech stack?
  • Can your data flow both ways between your TMS and website? 
  • Would integrating with the TMS require manual data pushing or cleansing in order for your data to flow between systems? 
  • Does the TMS used a third-party system and are there hidden costs involved in running your data through this?

The Buying Process

Write down your goals, plan a timeline and make the best possible decision for your business by asking yourself:

  • What are the features you want to prioritise when shopping for a TMS?
  • Does the system provider allow you to try before you buy? 
  • Do the TMS features deliver the values identified in your user stories? 
  • Is there a good support team that can help you get to grips with implementing the TMS? 
  • Have you factored in all the costs that may be involved at each stage of using the TMS?  
  • What features does your price plan get you? Are all the capabilities you wanted from the demonstration included in the version you’ve selected?
  • Has the TMS had regular updates in the past and can you find out the release schedule for future developments?

For more on how to evaluate and purchase a Training Management System check out our Buyers Guide to Purchasing a TMS.

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