How to Prepare for SumTotal in the Cloud

Feb 22, 2016

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When you are planning for SumTotal Implementation in the cloud, your implementation partner and SumTotal will provide valuable information about what to expect. Yet, in the flurry of activity, it is easy to overlook or give short shrift to the important things you need to do in your own organization to guarantee success.

We want to share our experience as software providers, implementation consultants, and customers in hundreds of implementations. Our experience includes dozens of LMS implementations, including SumTotal Administration. From that experience, we know these suggestions will help you have a smoother, shorter, and less costly implementation and will enhance the value of your SumTotal platform for your organization.

Get Started Now

Most implementation plans place change management discussions late in the implementation. We believe this is a mistake. It is never too early to start managing expectations and preparing the organization for the change. You can get started even as you formulate your change management plan.

Begin with informal discussions in every organizational segment about what people want in an LMS. You may already have the answers, but the purpose of the discussion is not primarily about features and benefits. It is to create dissatisfaction with the status quo to create a prevailing wind of change.

Have the discussions at all levels of the organization. Remember that information in an organization flows horizontally, not vertically.

Manage Expectations

If your organization has not already fully embraced cloud platforms, you will need to manage a new set of expectations. These new parameters are out of your control to change, but you can manage how your people perceive them.

Configuration, not Customization. An enterprise that has made us of customization to make its software fit processes may have difficulty adjusting to a software environment where customizations are either impossible or unwise. Although SumTotal in the cloud is one of the most flexible human capital management platforms in the market, it cannot do everything you might want. 


Lack of customization is the price we pay for some significant advantages. These pluses include, but are not limited to:

  • Lower cost of ownership as software development and infrastructure costs are spread across thousands of customers on a single platform.
  • Faster innovation and more frequent upgrades. The pace of change in learning is too fast for stodgy, static software solutions.
  • Ease of use. Cloud platforms are more user-friendly than on-premises software, and the rapid development cycle makes it better with each semi-annual release.
  • Integration. SumTotal has many pre-built integrations for your other enterprise platforms. If not, you will find integrations much easier than they were only a year ago. They are third party providers who specialize in integrations and probably have one ready to plug in.

Create a Change Management Plan

As we talk amongst ourselves, we sometimes speak of the companies we have seen who failed to execute a change management plan. Some of them made big news. However, if you plan well, change management will be a breeze. Here are the keys to a sound change management plan:

  • Get Marketing on the team. In your communications, you will want to present the features and benefits of the SumTotal platform and how you will use it. Marketing is the expert on how to do that. You may even be able to get them to craft your communications.
  • Communicate what to expect. Your people will talk about the change. If you don’t tell them what to expect, they will make it up – and you might not like their answer.
  • Keep people informed. Your C-Suite is not the only entity that needs regular progress reports. Include everyone in the discussion as you reach critical milestones.
  • Use SumTotal for communication as soon as you can.

Involve Every Function in Decisions

Each functional area has its unique needs. Don’t find out about them after your launch. If you can’t meet their needs, they will know why.

Map Your Processes

Prepare for the process transformation by mapping your processes, decision points, and the connections with other software platforms. Identify your pain points and be prepared to articulate them to your implementation partner. Eliminate practices that aren’t required or don’t add value.

Clean your Data

Now is the time to do the cleanup you have been putting off. Your implementation will go faster because you will have fewer problems with data migration and integration. Also, your learning library will be easier to deploy if you check its structure and validity.

You don’t need to clean up every little bit of information. Prioritize it and do what you can, and focus your efforts on operational data.

Meet The Challenge

According to the 2014 PwC HR Technology Study, the top two challenges in implementations were

  • not fully prepared for the process transformation required, and
  • our organization's readiness to give up customization and embrace the SaaS mindset.

We hope we have helped you prepare for the challenge.

Sumtotal learning in cloud

Further Reading

4 Essentials for a Successful LMS Implementation

Your New HR System: Transaction Tool or Transformative Technology?

Align Learning and Development to Business- Step-1: Learn the Business

5 Solutions for Sumtotal Data Integration Challenges

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.

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