What does a bespoke learning management system cost?

04/12/18

This is a rough guide to the costs of a bespoke learning management system. Of course it’s a very rough guide, but you get an idea of the possible costs and a starting point for further discussion with a software developer.

Let's start with 9 broad requirements:

  1. It’s a system for a training provider that wants to make online elearning content available to clients (organisations with their own staff).

  2. It has to be a fully responsive web application - one that works in a desktop browser and on a mobile device.

  3. We want a multi-tenancy system - the training provider can set up multiple client organisations in the system.

  4. The training provider is ‘super-admin’. The training provider creates client organisations and can setup a client admin accounts.

  5. The training provider can also upload a library of SCORM compliant elearning content. Different bundles of content can be made available to different clients. There are no payments in the system - that’s all handled offline.

  6. Client Admins can create simple courses - a course is just a sequence of elearning content. For example, a client may take three separate elearning content packages (available in the system) and use them to create a short ‘Health & Safety’ course.

  7. Staff login and work through a course. Progress information is saved and staff get email reminders to finish a course.

  8. Client admins see an overview dashboard - active courses, content in their library, staff with training to complete etc.

  9. We want low development costs and we want a well designed, scalable system - one that can support large numbers of client organisations with potentially thousands of active staff.

What does a system like this costs to develop? How many days of effort will your software developer charge you for? These are the big jobs:


  1. Initial planning and design work. You’re going to sit down with your software development company and scope out in some detail how the system will work. 20 days.

  2. Development of the basic application framework - menus, security, managing user accounts. 15 days.

  3. Client management - create, update, delete client organisations. 15 days.

  4. Functionality to support content. Implementation of the SCORM standard. 30 days.

  5. Polishing the user interface - branding, look and feel. 15 days.

  6. Testing (including time to support you during user acceptance testing). 25 days.

  7. Contingency - time for inevitable hidden requirements and last minute changes. 25 days.

That gives us a total of 155 supplier days. At £500/day the total cost will be £77,500 + VAT.


I think it is reasonable to expect a figure that’s somewhere between £75k - £100k for the initial development. It’s also worth thinking about a per learner cost. A bespoke system that’s used by 20,000 learners during the first three years begins to look like good value for money when compared to an off-the-shelf system that costs £5 per learner per month.