success factors learning management system

What Makes a Successful SaaS University Program?

If you’ve taken the time to invest in and build a SaaS University, chances are that you’d like it to be successful. After all, you conceived and started your SaaS University for a reason: to help individual participants further their professional prospects, and help your company’s overall growth and customer retention.

Of course, simply wanting your SaaS University to be successful isn’t enough, regardless of your desire for success. Like any other pursuit, if you’re unsure how to fill in the blanks from ‘starting a SaaS University’ to ‘having a successful SaaS University,’ you’re far less likely to get there.

But, just like what you’re offering with your SaaS University? Knowledge is power. If you understand the key success factors that make a SaaS University or other online learning platform successful, you can follow that path yourself.

So what factors do make a SaaS University successful – in both the short and long term?

Well, since SaaS Universities are a type of learning management system (LMS), it may be best to consider things on a broader scale. More specifically, to understand what factors lead to a successful SaaS University, consider: what do you look for in an LMS?

The best online learning platforms tend to share some similar traits, particularly with their level of participant engagement, use of knowledge checks, and their appeal to potential students. Let’s take a look at some of those recurring similarities, allowing you to set your SaaS University up for success from the get-go.

What Do You Look for in an LMS and Successful Saas University?

Perhaps the most important thing to look for in a LMS is how simple it is for participating students to navigate. After all, many SaaS Universities involve remote, independent learning sessions for students, where they’re left almost entirely to their own devices.

And if participants become confused during a course – or worse yet, can’t even find your SaaS University to begin in the first place – the chances of your LMS being successful will plummet.

Now, creating a simple, streamlined experience for participants doesn’t mean your course should be easy, per se, particularly if your SaaS University course involves some sort of certification and requires graded knowledge checks (more on that below).

But regardless of your SaaS University offerings, the most important thing to look for in any successful LMS is ease of use. Every successful LMS is presented in a clear and straightforward way, ensuring students and users know what they’ll learn and gain before they start – and are able to absorb every relevant piece of information once they begin a SaaS University course.

Three Key Features to Look for in an LMS

Beyond the need for a user-friendly LMS, successful SaaS Universities often contain three key features:

  1. Knowledge Checks – The presence of knowledge checks during your SaaS University course is a great resource for participating students. This doesn’t necessarily mean your SaaS University courses should have graded knowledge checks, such as quizzes or tests, or that your LMS should require participants to ‘pass’ those knowledge checks to continue the course.

Of course, some online LMSs, such as a recertification courses for First Aid/CPR through the Red Cross, will require more in-depth knowledge checks by necessity. This is true for any SaaS University or LMS course that offers an official certification of some sort, as obtaining the certificate is often dependent on proving they’ve acquired the necessary knowledge.

But whether your courses require a more in-depth assessment or just a quick check-in for accountability, knowledge checks allow participants to test themselves as they learn and make certain they are understanding all relevant information provided by that class.

  1. Level of Participant Interaction – As with knowledge checks, the level of participant interaction is an important consideration for all SaaS Universities, whether your course involves live instructors interacting with students, or consists solely of pre-recorded videos and independent training components.

Now, it’s a fine line between being available and being overbearing. Clearly, part of the draw of SaaS Universities is the convenient ability to complete a course – and obtain a certification or new professional knowledge – at one’s own pace and leisure. But this doesn’t mean you should never be available, or should avoid interacting with participants at any point before, during, or after the completion of a course.

How much participant interaction your SaaS University should include obviously depends on the type of classes your SaaS University offers. If you’re looking for your LMS to be successful, though, then you’ll want to ensure there’s at least some offer and level of participant interaction with each course.

  1. Appeal to Potential Students – Think about your SaaS University and what you’re offering potential students. Not only the information, knowledge, or professional certifications, but who is teaching your SaaS University classes.

Are your instructors well known or engaging? Are your instructors simply ‘teachers,’ or are they professors? Do they capture the imagination of participants and command their attention? Particularly for less interactive, more independent courses, ensuring your SaaS University is sufficiently appealing to potential participants is key to creating a successful LMS.

Consider HubSpot Academy, one of the most successful and well-known SaaS Universities. Many of their classes are taught by ‘professors,’ such as the free YouTube Marketing course, which is led by Crystal King: a real-life collegiate professor in the Boston-area, and a published novelist. As you can see, not only does the HubSpot Academy brand itself appeal to potential participants; they appeal to participants by providing the best possible instruction.

To be clear, these aren’t the only success factors to look for in an LMS. The level of community engagement, for instance, can also be a crucial determining factor in your SaaS University’s success. 

After all: if no one in the world knows your company or SaaS University exists – or has little to no idea how they can benefit from enrolling in, and completing, your SaaS University courses – it doesn’t matter how wonderful or beneficial those classes may be.

A successful LMS tests what participants learn throughout a course; they ensure instructors or assistance of some sort is available to participants; and they offer appealing skills and knowledge to entice and maintain participants. When you consider the most successful and well-known online learning platforms and SaaS Universities, such as Hootsuite Academy or IBM SkillsBuild, they tend to share these specific traits.

There are many factors that lead to the success of a SaaS University. But setting your SaaS University up for success from the beginning can be a highly effective step toward a promising future. By ensuring your LMS is equipped with these three key features, you’ll only boost the likelihood of finding long term success for your company and SaaS University.

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