SumTotal Managed Services: A Budget-Friendly Stress Reliever

Dec 09, 2021

picture of outsourcing team members working at their laptops

Managing SumTotal system administration is a big job. 

It’s the most configurable LMS on the market, which means it has more moving parts that must work together. When you add the rest of the Talent Expansion® suite, the scope of responsibilities can seem enormous. 

Fortunately, SumTotal provides extensive training, resources, and a customer community, where you can get answers to your questions. 

But even with all that support, it can take months or years to become fully proficient. 

What Do SumTotal Administrators Do? 

We’ve provided a sample list of responsibilities for an LMS administration team comprising an Administrator, a Technical Consultant, a Learning Analyst, and a Reports Specialist. In a large organization, you may have several of each. 

Every organization is unique, so this example may not be appropriate for your organization. You may even have only one person managing all these functions. 

This list is by no means complete, but it will give you an idea of the scope of services.

          General Administration  

  • System maintenance 
  • Internal support system setup and maintenance 
  • Manage languages and translations 
  • Data deletions for GDPR compliance 
  • User roles and security settings 
  • Themes 
  • Social communities 
  • Dashboards and landing pages 
  • Audiences 
  • Notifications 
  • Learner support: Logins, system navigation, user status 
  • Issue resolution for users 
  • Enterprise search 
  • Career paths 
  • Mobile settings 
  • Vendor management 
  • Data integrity
    Technical Administration 
  • System setup (with implementation consultants during initial setup). 
  • System configuration changes 
  • Technical issues 
  • Evaluating, testing, and managing updates 
  • Database maintenance 
  • Third-party integrations 
  • Integrations
  • Training assets 
  • Enrollments 
  • Assisting learning staff with course management 
  • Communities and Discussion Boards 
  • Personalized learning paths 
  • Gamification settings 
  • Certifications and Certificates 
  • Add, update, and remove training assets 
  • Development plan settings and notifications 
  • Assigning activities to users
  • Trainer support
  • Support services for customers or partners 
  • Manage competencies and behaviors 
  • Manage goal periods 
  • Configure rat scales 
  • Configure competency profiles and career paths 
  • Configure competency score mapping 

  • Report needs analysis 
  • Report creation, generation, and delivery 
  • Add, update, and purge reports 
  • Dashboards 
  • Report Naming Governance 

 Your Administrative Team 

The skills and roles you need to manage your administration depend on your organizational structure, talent needs, and, in many cases, languages and localization. 

Here are some things to consider: 

1. Should administration be a part-time role? 

Handling administration alongside another primary role can be a challenge. During times of intense activity, such as a system update, administration can require constant attention for hours or days at a time. You run the risk of critical tasks going undone. 

In a small company with few learning needs, it may be possible to have one person handle it as a part-time function, but you wouldn’t want that person to be the only one who can.

2. Do we need a backup administrator? 

An employee loss doesn’t need to be permanent to be disruptive. What if your only administrator goes on parental leave next week? 

So, your backup administrator must be as well-trained as your primary administrator and should have frequent hands-on experience.

3. How do we know how many people we need to manage SumTotal? 

We approach that question on a case-by-case basis. Every organization is different. 

The complexity of what you do, how critical it is to your business, and whether you have regulatory certification requirements also figure in the analysis.

4. Should we outsource administration? 

Hiring a managed services provider to handle some or all your SumTotal administration could be a smart decision. 

Before you decide, balance the benefits and risks. 

What Are the Benefits of Outsourced SumTotal Administration? 

  • Availability. You can have a dedicated administrator and support resources 24/7 or only during your operating hours, as you choose. You can eliminate worries about staff turnover over and leave. 
  • Expertise. You will have access to skilled specialists in every function of SumTotal technology. 
  • Even more, you will have access to expertise in workforce development strategy, design, and delivery. 
  • Predictability. You will have a service agreement (SLA) in place that defines the terms of your service.
    Make sure your SLA includes all the services you need and provides for changes in your requirements. 
  • Lower Cost. It can be much less costly to hire a managed services provider, and your costs are predictable. 

Here are the figures for the typical roles in administration. 


  • Managed Updates. Your services partner will anticipate system updates, test them against your configuration and business processes, and prepare you to take advantage of new features. 
  • Data Management and Integrations. A vendor will be well-trained and experienced in data integration and migrations, with the technical expertise to make any change smooth. 
  • Increased Adoption. Many customers find they enjoy greater adoption of their initiatives because of improved service. 


 What are the Potential Risks of SumTotal Outsourcing? 

As with any external relationship, there are risks associated with outsourcing your administration. However, you can manage and mitigate those risks with careful planning and preparation. 

  • Control. You may feel you are losing control over your operations, even if it is not so. Here's what you can do to keep maintain control.

Treat your provider as a member of your team. 

Set expectations at the beginning of the relationship for reports, feedback, and responsiveness to your needs. 

Do business with a company that values your business, meets with you on a regular schedule, and invests itself in helping you meet your goals. 

  • Data and Privacy Risk. Data and information losses are rare, but even so, you must guard against those risks. Ensure your vendor has a reliable security infrastructure and can back up a confidentiality commitment. 

Protect yourself with a non-disclosure agreement in your contract.  Expect and ensure frequent audits of security and privacy procedures. 

  • Risk of Additional Cost. Ensure you understand what is covered in your SLA and the costs of services outside the agreement. 
  • Service Failure. Specify performance criteria in your agreement and give your partner regular feedback. Let your partner know you will constantly be evaluating their performance and considering challengers at every renewal date. 

Be sure your potential partner’s business runs on a solid, reliable platform.  

Make your exit plan a part of your agreement and specify access to your data in a secure location. Review your exit plan frequently. 


Your SumTotal managed services provider will be a critical part of your business. Choose a certified SumTotal Partner and consider whether you want the provider on your team, like any other team member. 



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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