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Third-Party LMS Consultation Takes the Guess Work Out of New System Purchase

2015 Brandon Hall Bronze Award, Excellence in Learning — Best Advance in Learning Technology Implementation

DTE Energy is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include an electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan. The DTE Energy portfolio includes non-utility energy businesses focused on power and industrial projects, natural gas pipelines, gathering and storage, and energy marketing and trading.


DTE Energy sought a long-term enterprise-wide system solution with the ability to address the organization’s ever-changing learning management needs, so the company began evaluating the functionality and capabilities of its current learning management system (LMS). 

DTE’s Leadership and Professional Development team was tasked with rolling out the Foundational Capabilities, a new set of nine leadership development curricula that could be tailored for all employee levels. As the curricula were being developed and the implementation plan created, it became clear the company’s existing LMS would not be able to support the individualized nature of the curricula learning plans and would present challenges to the successful completion of the project. At this point, DTE engaged Innovative Learning Group (ILG), an impartial, third-party advisor to assist DTE with selecting a new LMS.


ILG began by reviewing DTE’s current e-learning infrastructure using its standard E-Learning/M-Learning Infrastructure Questionnaire. Details on limitations were collected from documents provided by DTE, and interviews ILG conducted with key stakeholders in IT and the learning function.

ILG then created a report, which detailed four options on how to address the current system limitations.

After debating the options, the team decided to select a new LMS — one that would support the Foundational Capabilities project in the short term, as well as have enough capability to support the entire DTE enterprise in the long term. ILG combined DTE’s requirements with industry-standard LMS requirements to create a comprehensive list of overall requirements. The team assessed whether the requirements were mandatory, desirable, or optional in the short term for the Foundational Capabilities and in the long term for the enterprise.

After the assessment was completed, ILG selected four LMS vendors who were a good match for the mandatory and desirable requirements. ILG made the selection based on a combination of past experience and known LMS industry rankings, including selected information from Gartner and the Brandon Hall Group.

The four vendors were invited to give demonstrations of their systems, which resulted in two of the vendors being invited to present a series of subsequent presentations to answer the team’s questions related to LMS functionality, implementation process, and pricing models. Additionally, DTE decision makers and users were able to try out both systems using a sandbox environment.

At the end of the evaluation process, ILG requested each DTE participant provide the following information based on all evidence seen during the entire selection process:

  • Preferred choice between the two systems
  • Any additional notes indicating why DTE should choose that system
  • Any show-stopper issues for either system that would eliminate it from consideration

Since then, DTE launched the Foundational Capabilities using its new LMS, which was internally branded as “Aspire.”


An effective learning management system is critical to an effective training strategy. Learners accept the training more readily and are more engaged when they can see it in context through their learning plan. 

Aspire enabled DTE to pursue the following goals:

  • Effectively launch the Foundational Capabilities curricula
  • Provide guidance to leaders regarding curriculum paths for themselves and their team members
  • Provide individual contributors guidance regarding curriculum paths
  • Request leaders to have a development conversation with each of their employees and to assign at least two learning events to support a development plan

By all accounts, DTE learners are extremely pleased with the usability and functionality of training activities within Aspire. 

Positive comments include:

  • Call Center calls and issues were reduced
  • Technical errors were reduced
  • Easier to find training within structured catalogs
  • Easier to launch web-based training
  • Easier to look at completed training via transcripts
  • Easier to understand required or planned training via learning plans

To learn more about how Innovative Learning Group can help you with your LMS selection, contact us at info@innovativeLG.com.

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