Companies are always looking to improve the adoption of their learning and talent management systems.
What often stands in the way between a good system implementation and a great success story is the ability for an organization to customize the platform to meet unique business requirements. Many talent management and learning platforms on the market do a great job of addressing 95% of what companies need, right out-of-the-box. However, businesses are not all the same, and microapp solutions exist to close the technology gap.
For this post, we asked Educe microapps experts Holly Sheldon and Morgan Prescott to provide their insights into what microapps are, how they work, and share examples of solutions Educe has deployed that have helped move the needle forward for customers.
What is a microapp and what does it do?
Morgan: A microapp is an application that accomplishes a specific task and has a narrow focus. These types of applications are built to supplement another existing software application (like an LMS), where a key piece of functionality that is crucial to the business is unavailable or does not support an organization’s business processes.
How are microapps built?
Holly: Each microapp is unique! While there are some underlying strategies that we utilize, these are highly customized pieces of software that are designed to extend an existing platform. The microapp can live within the platform or be built independently and sit adjacent to it. Depending on a customer’s requirements, we make recommendations to help optimize the software, user interface, technical streamlining, and API usage.
I like to use the metaphor of a house to explain microapps. If your LMS platform is a “house” that is already built, microapps are the different ways you can customize that house to make it more useable or enjoyable to live in. It’s obviously more complex than simply adding paint to the walls, but you get the point.
What are some common pain points that can be addressed with a microapp?
Morgan: A common pain point we see customers address with a microapp is the need for the business to retain processes and workflows that are important to them, that may not be functionally native to their talent management system or another piece of enterprise software. An example of this could be a complex data transformation that is currently done manually. A microapp can be built to streamline the process by extracting the data, transforming it, and loading it back into the system, or even sending it to another application or service. There’s no real limit to the number of manual workarounds or business needs that can be solved with microapps.
Holly: We know one of the most challenging pieces of introducing any new system is around change management and user adoption. For many of our clients, it’s important to introduce learners or administrators to a platform they can recognize. Many of our microapps allow our clients to showcase and have full control of important business processes. This could range from a customized canvas that minimizes the number of clicks for a learner while simultaneously controlling the full look/feel of the landing page as they log into the system, to providing a greatly simplified workflow for a mass population of administrators for functionality that would otherwise impose risk or ongoing training to be able to manage.
Can you share examples of microapps Educe has built for clients and the impact it has had on their business?
Holly: There are so many, it is hard to choose! I guess the first example would be one of our clients who offers training to their customers and manages their curriculum by ordering courseware (digital) from a third-party provider. We worked with this client to build out an integration that allows the student to order their courseware, as well as launch that courseware directly from the LMS platform. Previously, the administrators had to manually order courseware as a part of classroom preparation. By allowing the student to assume responsibility for this task, it minimized the administrative involvement in class preparation for the business significantly.
For another client, we built a membership manager tool, which supports learners in calculating the cost of a prorated membership, and administrators in managing organizational access to membership benefits through an interactive dashboard. They can manage the “seats” that they purchased, manage renewals, provide access to other resources in the system, and provide administrative access to other members at their organization. With such a large administrative population, the Membership Manager allowed the client to onboard administrators with minimal training and enabled them to complete their jobs without leaving the home screen.
Morgan: I agree – it is hard to choose just a few. However, one of my favorites was a custom certification experience that we built for a client using the existing certification data from their LMS. The microapp allowed the client to tailor the user experience for each specific audience, and curate what the end users were able to see to a much greater extent than could be done natively in a large multi-tenant platform. Now, the client’s employees can access their own certification data and requirements much more efficiently.
Another example was a microapp to enhance the native functionality of the “Event Calendar” within the customer’s LMS. They wanted managers to be able to see all upcoming events and training sessions available for their direct reports. We built a custom calendar application, utilizing the LMS’ APIs, to curate a calendar view specific to the client’s requirements, and embed it within their current LMS.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Holly: For me, it’s such a fun process to be part of enhancing the experience of a client’s day-to-day, and one of the coolest things about microapps is that the possibilities are endless. Whether the client knows exactly what they want to be built, or they have a challenge that currently doesn’t have an identified solution, we have worked both sides of that dynamic. We are constantly growing our portfolio of microapps, so I always encourage clients to visit our microapps webpage or reach out to their Engagement Manager for inspiration. Now’s as good a time as any to start solving those workplace headaches!