How to Choose the Best LMS for Regulated Industries


September 13, 2023

In the world of Learning Management Systems (LMSs), CoSo Cloud stands out for its expertise in high-stakes applications. However, interpretations may vary regarding “high consequence” scenarios. While every organization grapples with security lapses that could prove catastrophic, regulated entities must also contend with potential fines and official sanctions in case of mishaps.

In the heavily regulated sectors such as healthcare, finance, and government, mishaps are relatively rare, thanks to the stringent certification processes. Attaining the demanding benchmarks of top-tier certifications can be a costly and intricate endeavor for Learning Management System (LMS) providers. This commitment is often reflected in the pricing and quality of their services. Consequently, finding an LMS provider capable of ensuring compliance with regulatory and training requirements while remaining budget-friendly can be a formidable challenge.

Leveraging Certifications as an Advantage

LMS customers must recognize that compliance certifications are highly valuable assets for LMS providers. These certifications represent substantial investments in terms of time and resources, often obtained with specific customers and use cases in mind.

For instance, SOC 2 Type 2 certification is nearly a prerequisite for all cloud service providers in North America. HITRUST, on the other hand, is a comparable but higher-cost certification tailored explicitly for the healthcare sector, ensuring compliance with HIPAA requirements.

When seeking an LMS, it’s wise to familiarize oneself with industry-specific compliance certifications and seek out vendors holding these certifications. This approach enables a more discerning evaluation of an LMS provider’s genuine expertise beyond marketing claims.

Navigating the Government Landscape

In the realm of government entities, compliance concerns revolve around adherence to federal and state cybersecurity regulations. At the federal level, FedRAMP is the most comprehensive certification administered by the General Services Administration (GSA). FedRAMP assesses security controls, risk management, and compliance across three levels: Low, Moderate, and High, each matching different degrees of data sensitivity. StateRAMP mirrors FedRAMP but caters to state government requirements.

Although StateRAMP has fewer controls and requirements than FedRAMP, it employs a similar standardized procedure to identify and evaluate risks and security compliance of providers. Presently, about a third of U.S. states participate in StateRAMP. Government agencies can leverage authorizations from both frameworks to streamline compliance processes and reduce redundancy.

Deciphering Compliance Levels

Whether dealing with FedRAMP or StateRAMP, agencies must gauge the compliance level for their LMS based on data sensitivity. For example, an outward-facing training system with personal user data may necessitate at least FedRAMP Moderate, whereas internal employee training might suffice with Low.

Choosing Between FedRAMP and StateRAMP Certified LMS

There’s an overlap between FedRAMP and StateRAMP certifications, offering a degree of compatibility between the two. However, StateRAMP provides a lower entry barrier for LMS providers that anticipate working primarily with specific state government agencies. StateRAMP is a relatively recent certification, and providers holding StateRAMP alone may have a shorter track record in the government market. Providers with more extensive experience in this space will likely have attained FedRAMP certification first.

Some providers, including CoSo, hold both FedRAMP and StateRAMP certifications. This status signifies a deep specialization and expertise in the government LMS market, catering to local entities like cities and counties mandated to comply with state regulations and high-stakes federal entities like the Department of Defense.

In any regulated industry, an LMS provider’s certifications clearly indicate their actual area of expertise. The costs and dedication involved in obtaining and maintaining these certifications can reveal where a provider excels and where a firm can discover the most suitable LMS for its unique requirements.

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