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

Another day, another acronym. 

The tech world is rife with them.

When entering the software marketplace, it can seem like a minefield. The best way to equip yourself is by learning the lingo. We've identified 6 acronyms in particular that you'll come across frequently within the world of L&D. If you're on the lookout for a new solution, or evaluating whether your current solution is right for your organisation, then read on!

So, what do they all mean? 

TMS

A Training Management System is a tool that focuses on automating the administrative side of training operations. Utilised by commercial training businesses, internal L&D departments and training arms of larger organisations, a TMS is most effective when supporting instructor-led training organisations. The core function of a TMS is designed to promote business growth by saving time and money through automation. A training management system can help you with the following:

  • 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?

LMS

Despite often being banded together with TMS's, LMS's prioritise different business objectives.

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. It focuses less on the operational and administration tasks that a TMS specialises in, yet provides additional services such as target-setting and monitoring; learner journeys, and coursework submissions.  More sophisticated, modern LMS's include gamification features; using game elements to improve learner engagement

Check out 8 advantages of a learning management system below. 

8 advantages of an LMS original learning

CMS

Any software that enables web-based content management is called a Content Management System (CMS). More specifically, a CMS is a software system designed  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. 

It's worth noting... 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.

CRM

Without customers, you'd have no business. This is the purpose of a Customer Relationship Management system: to manage your customer relationships effectively. Customer Relationship Management or CRM software systems are designed to manage your sales process and/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

ERP

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 are all-encompassing tools that often house more functionality than most training departments require.

The important thing to understand, is that an ERP attempts to do the work of multiple systems in one; bypassing the troublesome hurdle of disparate systems that don't communicate with one another.

It should be noted, ERP systems often involve a  higher investment than many of the solutions previously mentioned.

SaaS

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?

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