A Learning Management System (LMS) has become a staple in building an effective educational journey both offline and online. Introducing an LMS in schools, universities, industrial entities is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.
In one of our previous articles, we spoke about what LMS stands for and why you would need one for your company. In this article, we’ll explore the peculiarities and the true LMS development cost.
When facing the question of adding an LMS in their processes, organizations have two options: either to go with a system available on the market or build their own platform from scratch. Developing a custom solution means hitting all the pain points your company has, but it also comes at a certain price.
LMS Development Process
Building an LMS from scratch is like baking a multi-layered cake with a few tiers. The exact pricing will depend on every single detail: from the set of desired functions and a visual representation of the platform to the number and seniority of specialists involved or the desired timeframe for the platform launch. Let’s review all the tiers one by one.
1. Choose a platform
A learning management system can be built on a ready-made SaaS product, a WordPress-based platform, or a customized engine solution. The platform you select will be determined by your budget and level of experience with a variety of systems.
2. Create Courses and Assign Your Departments To Each
After you've decided on a platform, you may begin developing content for your LMS, including courses, timetables, and materials for each topic. This phase is critical because you must generate relevant and valuable information that will facilitate employee learning. Assign certain courses to a department within your company. Assignments, self-paced modules, participation, and a testing module should all be included in each course.
3. Add Testing Modules and Statistical Tools
Incorporating exams helps you assess learners' knowledge. You may also determine whether the content you are delivering is beneficial based on an employee's test score. Surveys and polls are an alternative to exams.
Statistical tools will help you to keep track of all the activities in which your students are involved. These also reflect how far an employee has progressed with a course, the number of courses finished, and the time spent on quizzes. The data generated by statistical tools can assist you in determining the effectiveness of your LMS. Changes can then be made to boost member engagement with the courses and remove unproductive ones.
4. Make It Mobile Friendly
Your LMS must be mobile friendly in order for employees to access it from any device. This ensures that trainees are not limited to accessing learning materials when it is best for them, therefore increasing usage.
5. Test LMS
You may begin testing your learning management system once you have finished constructing it. Testing a product before releasing it allows you to go through all of its features and correct any issues. Related article: Comprehensive LMS Implementation: 10-step Guide.
To cover the development process, it is necessary to engage not just one or two developers, but a whole team of specialists with each of them performing a dedicated set of work along the way. A typical development team includes:
a business analyst;
a UX/UI architect (designer);
a project manager;
a back-end developer;
a front-end developer;
a markup developer;
a quality assurance specialist;
a DevOps engineer.
Learning Management System Development: Key Features
Building an LMS includes developing core functionality, which will be the same for any organization regardless of its specific needs.
A learning management system usually consists of at least two functional parts:
an administrative panel for all activities related to content and user management, tracking and analyzing learners’ performance;
a student’s account where users have access to study materials and can perform different tasks.
When developing the LMS, a school or a university might want to add a teacher’s account as a separate space for faculty members to work directly with the students enrolled in their classes.
Given its structure, these are the key learning management system features you’d be looking for to implement:
user and role management: creating/editing users, assigning roles to them;
learning content management: creating and editing lessons and courses, support of different types of content, uploading content;
testing and assessment: test and quizzes, displaying learners’ progress, certification;
analytics and reports:
notifications: reminders and alerts about upcoming lessons, courses, checked assignments, and tests.
Related article: Why Edutainment is an Absolute Game-changer in Learning?
What framework to choose when building an LMS?
The best learning management system development requires technologies that are fresh, constantly upgraded by their official vendors, and work well together. Therefore, we would suggest opting for modern frameworks that will ensure flexibility and security for your platform in the years to come.
PioGroup Software selects a specific tech stack for LMS based on its nature and required functionality. The following technologies are used in the development of learning management system:
The LMS data is saved and processed here. This learning management system software layer is invisible to the client, but it is critical to the system's operation.
Django, Rails, Node.js, and others are popular frameworks for creating an LMS backend. At PioGroup, we use Ruby on Rails to build unique learning management systems from the ground up. It has a plethora of libraries that provide further flexibility and aid in the development of programming. It also has good safety measures and is appropriate for most industries.
The term "frontend" refers to anything in a product that a consumer can view and interact with. We utilize Vue.js or React.js to construct an LMS platform interface. We select the technology that will provide the appropriate looks as well as speedy loading and great responsiveness.
Relational databases, such as PostgreSQL or MySQL, are linked to learning management systems. They are compliant, reliable, and quick. Due to the large number of functions, we utilize MySQL as the most popular solution.
Amazon Web Services provides the ideal balance of security, efficiency, and price for cloud-based learning management system development. DigitalOcean, on the other hand, is a quick and dependable hosting provider.
What can affect LMS development cost?
Aside from the coding itself and the team involved in the process, developing an LMS brings a number of additional items you need to pay attention to before starting the project. Each of them may influence the final budget of LMS pricing. The additional items include:
Hosting. Once the development process is completed, an LMS needs to be published on a server where it will be available for users. For this purpose, you will need to purchase a hosting package that will provide server space for your platform to be stored and operate. There are a lot of hosting companies with a variety of options catering to your specific hosting requirements. You can ask your development company for advice, and they will share a few suitable options of service providers.
Integration with third-party services. You need to be ready for additional expenses if you consider connecting your LMS with paid external tools (e.g. Grammarly, Dropbox, Zapier, Amazon services).
Design. While the design is one of the initial steps in the development process, it is necessary to stress that visual effects, animations, etc. will contribute to the final cost of the platform since implementing such features will require more time and effort from the team.
Developers’ expertise. The more complex the project, the more competent the team needs. And the more they charge for their services, the more sophisticated the product. Product complexity. The amount of features influence the complexity of the LMS logic, which in turn influences implementation time and, consequently, price;
Development methodology. A traditional waterfall strategy involves a single person making decisions about tools, procedures, and pricing. When your IT partner employs Agile technique, you work with the entire team, which may provide for more negotiation space.
Building an LMS: time and costs estimation
It is difficult to provide an exact cost for a custom learning management system because it is based on so many factors. To give you an idea, let's suppose that MVP development for a typical web-based LMS takes four months.
In Ukraine, the typical company's hourly wage ranges between $30 and $60. A basic team of a business analyst, project manager, team lead, two or three developers, a designer, and a QA may produce a minimum viable product for an LMS for around $80K-120K.
In comparison, Western European developers charge $60-80 per hour, whereas US contractors charge $80-200 per hour. As a result, the MVP price range will expand.
The average software developer in India costs $20-40 per hour of work. Miscommunication is a major concern, though, because India is less exposed to English-speaking countries. Furthermore, the significant time difference (India's time zone is GMT +5:30) makes remote collaboration challenging.
So now that we know basic LMS features, the team required to create the system, and other details, how much time is actually needed to develop a working platform?
According to the breakdown above, the basic learning management system development will take around 1000-1500 hours.
To calculate the approximate LMS development cost, let’s multiply the number of hours by an hourly rate of $35:
So, the LMS cost with basic functionality might range between ~$37000-$53000. Related article: How Much Does it Cost to Develop an Educational App?
How Piogroup can help
As a service provider in the edtech area, PioGroup Software understands the challenges around building an effective learning environment in different organizations. Our team is ready to start a conversation and help you build a system that will cater to your specific needs and have the best LMS features. What you can expect from us:
a full-cycle development process that includes covering all the phases outlined above;
an in-house team of specialists working in sync to cover each step of the development;
a proven experience in building learning management systems.
LMS development is a challenge. But it's equally exciting if there is the right team navigating the process from the very beginning. Contact us if you’d like to start, and let’s embark on this journey together!