What is a Training Management System? [The Ultimate Guide]

Your complete guide to what a training management system is, what it isn't and how you can utilize training technology in your business

Training management system dashboard

What a training management system is

A training management system (TMS) is software for training companies, that automates training-related tasks and helps organize and schedule courses, resources and attendees. The aim of a training management system is to bring all training operations together on one central platform; to allow your business to grow; your customers to be more satisfied, and your team to all row in the same direction without anything getting missed.

Functionality typically includes course and resource management; automated communications; delegate tracking; task management; reporting; document generation, and CRM.

Course delegate

What a training management system isn't

A training management system isn't a performance management system, HR platform or an assessment tool. While there are overlaps with a learning management system (LMS), the main difference is intent: a TMS is built for training managers; course administrators; customer service teams, and business owners. An LMS is built for learners, to facilitate front-end learning.

While learner experience is important, it is not the only factor that contributes to happy customers. Having streamlined back-end processes, supported by a training management system, means all of your operations run smoothly and nothing falls through the cracks. 

56% of training professionals are yet to invest in automated training management technology

If you're one of these providers- this page will guide you through everything you need to know about training management systems and how training tools could benefit your organization.

Download our latest Training Industry Guide to discover more interesting stats on the training industry this year.

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Training Management System Model

What is a training management system? This model breaks down the key components of training management software. 

Training management system explained

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Popular blog posts

Check out the popular blog posts below for essential information around training automation. 

What is a Training Management System?

This blog post explores the difference between a training management system and a learning management system, essential features of software for training providers and how training software benefits your business.

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The Difference Between SaaS And On Premise Training Software

What is the difference between on premise and SaaS training software and why does it matter? The decision could greatly impact your running costs, your business' ability to scale and accessibility. 

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Customer Service: Is It Important For Software?

Is customer service an important factor when selecting software? In our experience, yes. This post explores setting a clear support plan, defining your support requirements and how to get software implementation right first time. 

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Software Jargon Simplified: TMS, CRM, LMS, ERP

TMS, LMS, CMS, CRM, ERP, SaaS, all these acronyms in modern software systems, but what do they all mean? This guide will turn you into a software expert in no time at all. 

Keep reading

Guides and eBooks

Free guides and eBooks for you to download. 

10 Ways to Use a Training Management System

This free guide studies 10 real-life examples from training companies just like yours. You'll discover how each organisation gets the most out of their training management software. 

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CRM or Training Management System?

In this free guide, you'll gain access to all the details you need when deciding between a CRM and a training management system for your training business.

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Build or Buy Training Software?

Should you build custom software in-house or invest in existing training software solutions? In this free guide, we explore differences between the two options, so you'll know exactly which option is best for your training business needs. 

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The Ultimate Guide to Selecting Software

Our free buyer's guide explores how you can define the type of system your company needs, the questions you need to ask, and the answers you need to hear to make a fully informed purchasing decision.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need a training management system?

When a business decides to invest in training process automation, there's a few triggers that we commonly see:

  • They want to grow their training business, but they've hit a ceiling 
  • Issues caused through human error are increasing
  • Course inquiries are increasing but the workload is becoming unmanageable 
  • Their admin team is close to burn out
  • It's difficult to look up training completion, monitor upcoming qualification renewals or track certification
  • They have their training information in lots of different systems which makes it difficult to gain a complete overview of the business 
  • Increasing admin resource and workarounds are being used just to get the job done
  • Important tasks are slipping through the cracks and it is beginning to impact their service and reputation
  • They need to standardize the way their business or department operates
  • They want to improve customer satisfaction (reputation and referrals are recognized as the #1 marketing techniques by training professionals.)  

Do any of these challenges sound familiar? In most businesses more than one of these triggers applies. 

What is the difference between a training management system and a CRM?

A training management system is designed to manage course attendees' and customers’ course bookings, from payment through to delivery whereas a CRM is designed to take care of the beginning of the customer journey including generating leads, tracking opportunities and managing the sales pipeline.

A CRM may also come back into play at the end of the journey in ways such as offering re-booking discounts or suggesting other courses that could be of interest. However, the CRM doesn't fill in the middle bit. This is where a training management system comes in. This table provides a side by side comparison of a training management system and CRM:

Functionality  CRM  TMS
 Lead management
Quote management
Opportunity management 
Contact management 
Sales forecasting  
Sales targets  
Notes & documents
Meetings tracking
Automated communications
Outlook integration
Finance integration
Course management  
Resource management  
Online course booking  
Website integration for course advertising  
Text Messages
Tasks & Reminder
Compliance tracking  
Certificate generation  
Email marketing
Invoicing & payment
Discounts & vouchers
Learner portals  

Ultimately, a CRM and TMS can work together in sync to harmonize the entire end-to-end customer experience but a CRM alone is not enough to manage a training business effectively. 

Download CRM vs Training Management System eBook for more detail.

What makes a good or bad training management system?

This all depends on what you want. If you are looking for a simple event management tool or somewhere to host eLearning, then there are plenty of off-the-shelf systems on the market. However, if you're looking for a centralized system to manage and automate all of your training operations then you need to do a bit more digging.

If you are seriously considering course management software for your training business then there are some questions that you need to answer before you make a start:

  • How many courses do you run annually, and how many attendees register for each course?
  • Do you use a number of venues, hire external trainers and manage equipment?
  • Do you manage training for clients or are your courses public facing?
  • Is it easy for clients to make multiple bookings for a number of attendees?
  • Do you currently (or want to) offer discounts, special offers or promotions?
  • Do you manually book attendees and distribute invoices?
  • Is it easy for attendees to cancel, re-book and be added to waiting lists?
  • Do you lose track of how many pieces of communication you issue to delegates, trainers, venues or suppliers related to one course?
  • Do your trainers have mobile access to course delegate lists, sign in sheets and course documents?
  • Is reporting, such as tracking attendance and finances essential to your business?
  • Would document generation of course materials, such as sign in sheets; name badges; evaluation surveys, and certificates be useful?
  • Do your clients require visibility of their employee training?

Once you have defined your criteria then you have your own clear list for deciding whether a training management system is good or bad

There are a lot of different terms around - what else is a training management system known as?

There's lots of terms that are used interchangeably to describe training management software including: training management system; course management software; software for training companies; training business software; training booking system; course administration system; training admin software; training CRM, and many more!   

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