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Software Jargon Simplified: TMS, CRM, LMS, SaaS, ERP, CMS

TMS, LMS, CMS, CRM, ERP, SaaS, all these acronyms are around in modern software systems and tech, but what do they all mean? There is much confusion surrounding software today and even more confusion as to identifying the right software solution for your business. Here is a general overview of some of the different types of software tech on the market and which one may be most suitable for your needs.

When entering the software marketplace it can seem like a minefield. The best way to equip yourself is through learning the lingo. Read on for some of the common acronyms you may come up against. 

So, what do they all mean? 


A Training Management System provides all the functionality required for running a training business, managed learning service or training department or arm. It builds processes around courses from processing customer leads to arranging courses and providing post course follow up. In addition to managing training administration, a TMS also deals with all of the peripheral aspects such as online booking and finance, marketing and resource management.

In short, a training management system focuses on the back-end training operations to ensure that training providers can run efficiently and profitably. This includes managing operations such as:

  • Scheduling courses and events
  • Coordinating resources and instructors 
  • Generating joining instructions, certificates and other communications
  • Processing payments and bookings 
  • Reporting and tracking business intelligence 

Check out the model below for a complete overview of the capabilities of a TMS. 

Training management system explained

Download a PDF of the Training Management System model by following this link. 

Further reading: What is a Training Management System?

There is an age old question: what is the difference between a training management system and learning management system? Keep reading to find out. 


Whereas a training management system is built for training administrators and managers, the learning management system is built with the learner in mind. A Learning Management System is a software system that delivers online learning modules via a browser on the internet or via a networked software solution installed on computers. This provides an online learning environment complete with quizzes, eLearning, videos and documents which can be combined with face-to-face learning to ensure a comprehensive learning experience. 

An LMS is primarily used by internal training departments to manage learning and development and includes all TMS functionality as well as additional services such as target setting and monitoring, learner journeys and coursework submissions.  

Check out 8 advantages of a learning management system below. 

8 advantages of an LMS original learning

Recommended reading: How Not To Buy An LMS You Can't Stand


Any software enabling web-based content management is called a Content Management System (CMS). More specifically, a CMS is a software system designed specifically for managing content in a website, like WordPress, HubSpot or Drupal. A content management system is typically used by organisations to manage their website, blog and any other hosted content such as PDFs and images. 

The big benefit of a CMS is that all of your organisations' content is in one central location which you can edit, revise and update at any point to ensure that your content is always up to date and is SEO-friendly. You can also think of a CMS as a non-developers version of website design as it allows users to update the look and feel of their site without needing to know any code. 

Top tip: As well as a CMS, LMS and TMS there are many other possible variations on the __MS system, remember that an abbreviation ending with MS is usually a type of management system.


Without customers, you have no business. This is the purpose of a CRM system: to manage your customer relationships effectively. Customer Relationship Management or CRM software systems are designed to manage your sales process or sales funnel. Basic features of a CRM include contact management, a centralised place to keep notes from sales pitches and customer service activity, and information analysis tools to identify up-sell opportunities or at-risk customers.

A CRM is business efficiency software, but focused on the interactions your business has with clients and potential clients. The graphic below demonstrates the key aspects of a CRM system. 

Customer Relationship Management CRM system Reuters


An Enterprise Resource Planning system is software designed to run your entire business. The most basic functions of an ERP are customer management (CRM) and accounting software functionality. Like the majority of one-size-fits-all solutions, many ERPs provide too many modules for training companies.

The important thing to understand is that an ERP attempts to do the work of 2 or more smaller business management software systems meaning that it is most suited to organisations offering multiple services.


There is a whole line of technical products available as a service (aaS). This particular acronym stands for Software as a Service. Anytime you see something offered as a service, it means that access to the product is offered via a subscription. This provides higher value service and support to the customer and reduces production costs for the software producer. 

All of the previously mentioned systems can be provided as SaaS, the main benefit of choosing this offering is that it is cloud based. Which, as well as being able to be accessed at any site on a range of devices, provides a multitude of other organisational benefits such as:

  • Regular updates to features and functionality (usually provided in your original subscription fee)
  • It is scalable meaning new modules or user licenses can be added as and when you grow
  • Software maintenance is carried out by the supplier so you don't need dedicated resource 

The comparison chart below shows the differences between traditional software deployment and Software as a Service.

Traditional software vs SaaS

Recommended reading: SaaS vs On-Premise Software

To learn more about the key differentiators between a CRM and TMS and help selecting software which is right for you download our free whitepaper.

Training management system v CRM

Related articles include:

What is a Training Management System?

Why Choose A Training Management System Over A CRM?

LMS or CRM: Which Management System Will Benefit My Company?

Originally published 21st July 2015, updated 3rd October 2018


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