There are way too many online training platforms to count. So what’s the best way to choose one? When searching for a platform, it is vital to define exactly what it will be used for, who will use it and under what conditions. Below are some questions to help you determine which online training platform best suits your organization’s unique needs:

Do students need access to virtual training labs? Virtual training labs (also knows as “hosted labs” or “hands-on labs”) are a critical component of high-quality technical training. A virtual training lab environment provides every student with a realistic hands-on training experience. Offering a virtual training lab component helps instructors engage students and gives students actual practice time on the software being taught while under the supervision of an instructor.

How many concurrent classes, how many students per class and where are students located? The answers to these questions determine the total lab hosting capacity you will need to accommodate your training demand. The tricky part is that training demand can be very volatile and the solution of your choice should be able to accommodate your peak demand. It’s also important to work with a vendor that has data centers in each region when you are training a global audience to ensure good user experiences.

How consistent is your training demand? Training goes through periods of low and high demand, so selecting an online training platform with a pricing structure that can match your training needs is critical. For example, if your training has variable demand, it’s best practice to select an online training platform with a pay-as-you-go pricing structure. Vendors with monthly fees are basically fixed costs on your training organization, even when your training demand is low.

Do you need a multi-language online training platform? Most platforms don’t support localization. If you have instructors teaching students internationally, it is best practice to select an online training platform that supports localization so international students can navigate the platform easily.

Do students need access to the online training platform from outside the office? Online training platforms that are accessible outside of a company’s intranet are a necessity, especially for customer facing training (since most if not all of your customers will connect from outside of your company’s network). Having said that, when choosing an online training platform, be sure the vendor complies with your IT department’s security requirements and local data protection laws.

What kind of features do your instructors want? There are numerous ways to interact with online students, such as via chat, screen sharing, webcam, audio, assessments or polling students. Each feature performs a specific function and can help online courses become more interactive. However, not all online training platforms offer the same features, so make sure you select an online training platform with the features your instructors want.

Does your online training platform provide your training department with everything it needs to give online training? Online training typically requires presentation tools, virtual training labs, materials management and assessments. Choosing a vendor that provides all of these products will place a lower technology burden on instructors and students. For example, selecting an online training vendor with an integrated presentation tool and virtual training labs means instructors need to learn only one system and the student learning experience will be smoother and more cohesive.