What does a bespoke learning management system cost?
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:
- It’s a system for a training provider that wants to make online elearning content available to clients (organisations with their own staff).
- It has to be a fully responsive web application - one that works in a desktop browser and on a mobile device.
- We want a multi-tenancy system - the training provider can set up multiple client organisations in the system.
- The training provider is ‘super-admin’. The training provider creates client organisations and can setup a client admin accounts.
- 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.
- 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.
- Staff login and work through a course. Progress information is saved and staff get email reminders to finish a course.
- Client admins see an overview dashboard - active courses, content in their library, staff with training to complete etc.
- 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:
- 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.
- Development of the basic application framework - menus, security, managing user accounts. 15 days.
- Client management - create, update, delete client organisations. 15 days.
- Functionality to support content. Implementation of the SCORM standard. 30 days.
- Polishing the user interface - branding, look and feel. 15 days.
- Testing (including time to support you during user acceptance testing). 25 days.
- 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.