You already know what a Learning Management System (LMS) can do for your business. Put simply it helps increase productivity and engagement by delivering training materials and organising skills development. There are many different types on the market and many of them are feature rich. Things like course creation, offline teaching, mobile learning and even gamification come as standard. They are all part of what makes any LMS worth your while.

But if you take a step back, there’s something even more fundamental about how an LMS is built that’s important to know. The differences will affect the price and how much time and effort (therefore money) it will cost you as well. Let’s take a look at five different types with this LMS comparison.

Installed vs Web Based

Installed means the entire system is hosted on your server, behind your firewalls, at your business. It’s yesterday’s way of doing things but comes with added security benefits, however it excludes anyone not located on site from using the LMS. Set up fees are often cheaper for Web (or Cloud) based installation, which also allows anyone online to access the system. Web based is much more flexible.

Hosted vs SaaS

These are both stored online, but with SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), the LMS vendor is responsible for all maintenance and updates. This is a bonus to business as you don’t have to employ someone to take care of the application and server space as you would if it was hosted online. SaaS fees are typically cheaper than running the system yourself.

Open Source vs Closed

Open Source generally means you have more access to more features, and you get to choose which you’ll implement. If you like the look of someone’s LMS, you can cherry-pick and effectively design your own system. It gives you more flexibility and more control. With Closed Source, you’re wholly dependent on what the vendor offers, and at their mercy if they discontinue a feature. While there’s reduced flexibility, you don’t have to become an expert on building your own LMS.

Free vs Commercial

As with most software packages, you can usually get a free version. Typically these are scaled-down and don’t have a lot of features, but they can be a good testing ground to see if the vendor’s LMS is one you like working with. If you’re a small organisation, this might be all you need. You can usually upgrade to a commercial version and unlock more features.


Many LMS rely on external software to build courses while some (LCMS) have course-creation as an inbuilt feature. If you’re happy with the way you create content, an LMS is sufficient. Alternatively you might prefer it fully integrated and an LCMS is a better choice.

These are some of the types to consider when choosing a learning management system. Take the time to unlock its full potential because when you do, everyone benefits.