“Costs do not exist to be calculated. Costs exist to be reduced.” – Taiichi Ohno, Japanese engineer & businessman
Cost is a primary consideration for most organizations when adopting any software tool. This is especially true for startups and small enterprises with limited resources. Everything else looks manageable once you get the cost factor right.
LMS software may not be cheap, but they are worth every penny, considering all the benefits they bring to the table. LMS pricing can be based on various models such as pay-per-user, pay-per-use, pay-per-course, or license fee.
Whichever LMS pricing model you choose, it is important to get a clear picture of the different price models across vendors. Most organizations adopt these platforms for long-term use, so knowing about each pricing model ensures that you make a wise investment.
I realized that figuring out the costs among so many pricing models can be quite a maze. So, I decided to create a guide that simplifies LMS pricing and compares the top 10 vendors side by side.
Comparison of LMS Pricing Models
The costs of LMS software can vary significantly based on several factors. That said, there are five standard LMS pricing models generally followed across the industry:
Pay-Per-User Pricing Model
How it works:
Per-User pricing is a straightforward model where the cost of using the Learning Management System (LMS) is determined by the number of users or learners who access the platform. Organizations pay a set monthly fee for each user registered on the LMS.
This price model works well for businesses with a fixed number of learners. However, it can become costly if your enterprise or institution is large or experiences frequent employee turnover.
Pay-Per-Active User Pricing Model
How it works:
In this model, which is also known as pay-as-you-go, organizations are charged based on the number of active users within a specific time frame, such as a month. An active user is someone who has logged into the LMS and engaged with the content during that period. This model provides more flexibility, as organizations are only billed for users actively using the system.
This model suits organizations with fluctuating user engagement levels. It’s particularly effective for businesses that have seasonal or project-based training needs. Instead of paying for all registered users, organizations pay only for those who actively participate, making it cost-effective for times when user engagement is low. However, the downside is the unpredictability of cost each month.
Pay-Per-Course Pricing Model
How it works:
The Pay-Per-Course pricing model is an approach where users or organizations are charged based on the number of courses they access or create within the LMS. Instead of paying a fixed fee per user or active user, the cost is determined by the courses utilized.
Under this model, LMS providers typically offer courses that cover various topics and skills. Users can select the courses that align with their needs and are billed based on the number of courses they enroll in. The pricing structure may involve a flat fee per course or a tiered system where the cost per course decreases as the number of courses purchased increases.
This LMS pricing model is well-suited for individuals, small businesses, or organizations with specific training requirements. It offers flexibility by allowing users to pay for the content they need, avoiding the commitment of full LMS access. This model is particularly beneficial when organizations want to offer specialized training to a targeted group of learners without incurring the costs associated with a broader LMS subscription.
Flat-Fee Licensing Model
How it works:
Under the flat-fee licensing model, organizations pay a fixed price for a specified period, often annually or semi-annually. This fee typically covers unlimited access to the LMS for a certain number of users and may include additional features or support services.
Such a model includes the cost of the entire software, regardless of the number of users. Large organizations with hundreds or even thousands of employees prefer this pricing model since it is easy to know how much they pay yearly.
The flat-fee licensing model is well-suited for organizations that prefer predictable budgeting and want to provide training opportunities to a wide range of users without worrying about per-user fees. It’s particularly beneficial for large enterprises or educational institutions that require widespread LMS access.
Free (Open Source) Pricing Model
How it works:
The Free (Open Source) pricing model involves using an open-source LMS software that is available for free to anyone. Open-source software is typically developed and maintained by a community of volunteers or organizations, and its source code is accessible to anyone, allowing users to modify and customize the software to their needs.
Organizations can download, install, and use an open-source LMS without any upfront costs. While the software is free, hosting, maintenance, customization, and support costs might still be associated. Users can change the software, integrate it with other tools, and adapt it to suit their requirements.
Some LMS platforms offer basic functionalities for free, with the option to add premium features at a cost. This can be a good way for small businesses or individual learners to start with an LMS, but the essential elements are often locked behind the premium upgrade.
The Free (Open Source) pricing model is best suited for organizations having in-house technical manpower to manage an LMS installation, customization, and maintenance. It is ideal for organizations that want complete control over their LMS environment, are capable of handling technical complexities, and have the capacity to manage ongoing updates and support independently.
Here’s a simplified LMS pricing comparison table outlining the key features of the different pricing models:
|Pricing Model||How it Works||Best For||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Pay Per-User||Pay a fee per registered user.||Organizations with a consistent user base.||Predictable costs, suitable for growing teams.||Can become costly for large user bases.|
|Pay-Per-Active User||Charges based on the number of active users.||Organizations with a fluctuating number of training participants.||Cost-effective during low user engagement.||May lead to varying costs each billing cycle.|
|Flat-Fee Licensing||Fixed price covers unlimited access for users.||Large enterprises or educational institutions.||Predictable budgeting, suitable for wide access.||Costlier for smaller user groups.|
|Pay-Per-Course||Users pay according to the number of courses accessed or created.||Individuals and small businesses with specific needs.||Flexibility, targeted learning, scalability.||Cumulative costs for multiple courses.|
|Free (Open Source)||Open-source software, free to download and use.||Organizations with a dedicated IT team.||Cost savings, customization, community support.||Requires technical proficiency and resources.|
10 Popular LMS Vendors and Their Pricing Models
I have put together a list of the 10 most popular LMS vendors and how they set up their pricing. I’ve gathered this information from my experiences, peer discussions, in-depth research, and user feedback.
ProProfs LMS is an award-winning cloud-based LMS you can use to create, manage, deliver, track, and analyze online training courses and tests.
It follows a subscription-based pricing model, with plans starting at $1.97/learner/month billed annually. The plan comes with exciting features like unlimited courses, unlimited admins, gamification and leaderboards, 100+ premium courses, a dedicated onboarding manager, etc. There are no hidden charges. You get a 15-day free trial, and no credit card is required.
ProProfs LMS also offers a free plan for small organizations.
To get an overview of our pricing and find answers to relevant queries, visit our dedicated page.
Watch: What is a Cloud-Based Learning Management System?
2. Absorb LMS
Source : acornlms.com
Absorb LMS is another award-winning LMS that offers a variety of features to support ongoing training and development, covering an entire training lifecycle, from course creation and delivery to assessment and reporting.
It supports several pricing models, including user-based, usage-based, and subscription-based pricing. The specific pricing depends on the number of users, the type of training, and the features required.
3. Moodle LMS
Moodle is a free and open-source LMS used for a variety of purposes, including online courses, blended learning, and corporate training.
Moodle offers two main pricing models: self-hosting and MoodleCloud. Self-hosting is free, but you will need to purchase, run, and maintain the platform on your own server.
MoodleCloud is a cloud-based hosting service that Moodle offers. MoodleCloud plans start at $180 AUD annually for 50 users.
TalentLMS offers a user-based pricing model, with plans starting at $69 per month for up to 40 active users. The plans scale up to $459 per month for up to 1,000 active users. All plans include unlimited courses, email support, and a custom homepage.
The Plus and Premium plans also include single sign-on (SSO), advanced reporting, and gamification features.
TalentLMS also offers a free plan for up to 10 active users. This plan includes basic features such as course creation, quizzes, and assignments.
Source : financesonline.com
Docebo uses a subscription-based pricing model based on the number of active users per month. This means that you only pay for the users who access the LMS in a given month, not for the total number of users registered in the system.
This plan is suitable for you if you have a variable number of learners or if the training in your organization is optional or voluntary. The subscription-based pricing model is also flexible and scalable, as you can adjust the number of users according to your needs and budget.
Source : ispringsolutions.com
iSpring Learn helps organizations create, deliver, and track online training courses. The tool offers a subscription-based pricing model. There are two plans available: Start and Business.
Both plans offer unlimited users, storage, and bandwidth. You just pay for the active users only.
The main difference between the two plans is the number of features available. iSpring Learn also offers a free 30-day trial to try it before buying it.
In addition to the subscription-based pricing model, iSpring Learn also offers a self-hosted solution. With this solution, you can install iSpring Learn on your own server and pay a one-time fee for the software. The self-hosted solution is more expensive than the subscription-based pricing model but gives you more control over the software and your data.
Litmos is a leading LMS solution provider catering to e-learning solutions for firms. It offers three pricing models: Foundation, Premier, and Platinum, each varying in features and costs based on learner count (pay per learner) and content needs.
Foundation suits small entities having less than 100 learners. It provides 140 courses, core support, onboarding, security, accessibility, reporting, and branding.
Premier suits mid-market and high-growth firms, offering authoring tools, 2,000 courses, implementation help, integration APIs, gamification, AI assessments, SMTP, and custom domains.
Platinum, for global enterprises, offers deep engagement tools, analytics, 2,000 courses, custom roles, virtual classrooms, alerts, and APIs.
LearnUpon’s subscription-based pricing model comprises three plans: Essential, Premium, and Enterprise, differing in user capacity and features.
The Essential plan targets small organizations (up to 50 users), offering fundamental course and content management features.
Catering to medium-sized entities (up to 150 users), the Premium plan includes advanced features like gamification and integrations.
Large enterprises benefit from the Enterprise plan, which extends Premium’s features and introduces dedicated support.
A 14-day free trial is also available.
360Learning is a collaborative learning platform, and the price model is based on pay per active user. The tool offers three pricing models: Team, Business, and Platinum.
Team is for small companies or departments that need LMS capabilities for under 100 learners.
Business and Platinum are for mid-market and enterprise companies looking for scalable and versatile solutions for global learner growth.
They have custom pricing based on the customer’s needs and include content authoring tools, a robust content library, and dedicated technical support teams.
Source : g2.com
Lessonly by Seismic is a versatile learning management software with Pro, Pro + Coaching, and Enterprise pricing models.
The Pro model caters to small entities requiring LMS capabilities for under 100 learners, offering starter content and core implementation support.
The Pro + Coaching variant suits mid-market and enterprise firms, focusing on coaching functionality and an extensive content library.
The Enterprise plan includes all the features of the Pro + Coaching plan, plus enterprise-grade features such as custom domain, custom security, API access, and a dedicated account manager.
While specific pricing is not disclosed, Lessonly’s range of options accommodates organizations of various sizes and needs.
Learn More About LMS Pricing
What factors determine the learning management system cost?
The learning management system cost is determined by various factors, including the number of users, features required (such as content creation, assessments, and reporting), level of customization, integration with other systems, hosting preferences (cloud-based or self-hosted), and customer support. Factors like implementation services, training, and ongoing maintenance can also contribute to the overall cost. Advanced functionalities, scalability, and vendor reputation may also influence pricing. Organizations should carefully assess their specific needs and desired capabilities to choose an LMS plan that aligns with their budget and requirements.
Watch: How to Choose the Best LMS Software for Employee Training
Are there any hidden costs associated with an LMS?
Yes, there can be hidden costs associated with an LMS implementation. These might include charges for additional user licenses as your organization grows, fees for premium features not included in the base plan, customization and integration expenses, data migration costs, ongoing maintenance and updates, technical support beyond basic assistance, and training for administrators and users. It’s crucial to thoroughly review the terms and conditions of your chosen LMS provider, inquire about potential hidden costs, and plan your budget accordingly to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the total cost of ownership.
Are there any ongoing maintenance fees for the LMS after the initial purchase?
Yes, many LMS providers charge ongoing maintenance fees after the initial purchase. These fees typically cover technical support, updates, bug fixes, and security patches to ensure the system’s smooth operation and data protection. The level of service and frequency of updates can vary based on the provider and pricing tier. Organizations should factor in these ongoing maintenance costs when budgeting for their LMS implementation, as they contribute to the total cost of ownership.
Do LMS vendors offer customized pricing plans based on specific organizational needs?
Yes, many LMS vendors offer customized pricing plans based on specific organizational needs. They understand that different organizations have unique requirements, such as user numbers, feature preferences, and integration needs. Customized pricing allows organizations to pay for the exact services and features they require, optimizing their budget. This approach enables scalability, flexibility, and a tailored solution to match the organization’s goals. However, it’s important for organizations to clearly communicate their needs and expectations to the vendor to ensure that the pricing plan accurately aligns with their requirements.
What features are included in each pricing plan?
The features included in each pricing plan for an LMS can vary widely based on the provider and plan level. Basic plans usually cover core functionalities like content management, user management, and basic reporting. Higher-tier plans might include advanced features such as gamification, advanced analytics, custom branding, integrations with third-party tools, mobile apps, e-commerce capabilities, and more. Additional features often accompany higher pricing tiers, providing more comprehensive and sophisticated solutions.
Which LMS Pricing Model Is the Best for You?
Choosing the right LMS pricing model depends on what suits your organization best. If you have a steady number of users, the Per-User model offers predictable costs as your team grows. For those times when user activity changes, the Pay-Per-Active User model helps you save during inactive periods. Large businesses and institutions might prefer the Flat-Fee Licensing model for stable access across the board. The Pay-Per-Course model offers flexibility if you’re looking to focus on specific learning needs. The Free (Open Source) model suits those organizations with an in-house tech team and a need for large-scale LMS customization.
Whatever your decision is, it should match your budget, user patterns, growth plans, and tech abilities, ensuring the chosen model effectively supports your learning goals.
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