Training management vs. learning management systems: Which is right for you?

Explore the differences between TMS vs. LMS and find out which one meets your organizational needs.

June 9, 2021

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With the growth of online learning, especially in 2020 and beyond, there's a lot more talk about a learning management system and a training management system. And if you're curious about those two products, then chances are you've heard the terms – you may have even heard them used interchangeably.

The fact is, the two aren't synonymous. But they are both sides of the same e-learning coin.

In short, a training management system is a tool for the trainers to use; a learning management system is a tool geared toward students.

If you are a trainer or online instructor and you invite people to attend your sessions, or if you need a lot of back-office functions like scheduling and tracking, then you might be interested in a training management system.

But if your goal is to reach a lot of people and teach them about a variety of subjects, such as a school system might use, then a learning management system might be better for you.

In this article, we'll compare and contrast a learning management system (LMS) versus a training management system (TMS) and help you figure out which system is for you.

What is a learning management system?

A learning management system is a software application that helps you administer, deliver, document, track, and report educational content like training programs and online classes. That content can include video, interactive videos, courses, documents, testing, and even gamification of the results (i.e. giving badges for levels of completion and achieving certain scores).

A learning management system can be synchronous (everyone is online at the same time) or asynchronous (you show up at your convenience). So, you either go to class at the same time as the instructor, or you both send and receive your content at different times.

An LMS is geared more toward the students and their interaction and can often be used in a classroom setting, like higher education. The majority of the work has gone into making the student-facing end more robust and easier to use.


Learning management systems are made to be a little more student-friendly and are geared for online learning. Students will have an easier time navigating. Content creation is fairly easy, straightforward, and can often be created inside the LMS.


A good learning management system often still requires a training management system since they are two separate entities. A general learning management system is fine if you're focused primarily on teaching, but if you need the administrative side of things – reporting, measurement, tying to policies and accreditation – an LMS is not going to deliver all that.

Also, if you need to tie your training sessions into policies and accreditation requirements, that's often not possible with an LMS.

What is a training management system?

A training management system (TMS) is slightly different from a learning management system. Also called a training resource management system (TRMS), this is a software application that helps you administer, deliver, document, track, and report educational content, just like the LMS.

However, in this case, the training management system is focused more on back-office processes – booking instructors and sessions, reporting on business data – and making them ideal for corporate training administrators.

For example, training on how to use ERP software or policy management software would be handled through a training management system. Taking an online history class of 14th-century European agricultural practices would be done via a learning management system.

A training management system also handles the trainer's administrative tasks, such as session registration, course administration, tracking attendance, and reporting.


With PowerDMS' training tool, you can attach a policy to a course. When that policy is updated, the training content is automatically updated as well. 

You can also customize your tests and set them to pass/fail, allow retakes (or not), give time limits, make them open book, and so on. You can even get stats on each question to see where people are having trouble understanding the policy as a way to identify potential gaps in your training.

Some training management systems even include features like a CRM and a reporting system. This lets you better track attendance and signatures for accreditation compliance. They're built for automated compliance tracking and smart scheduling. For a more in-depth look, check out our complete guide to training platform software here.


On the downside, a TMS is not as student-focused as the LMS. You can still share educational content, but you will most likely have to create it elsewhere and import it into the software. You might not be able to offer some of the same student-focused features that an LMS has, but for raw under-the-hood power, a TMS is ideal for public safety and healthcare organizations.

TMS vs. LMS: Which system does your organization need?

In an ideal situation, you would use both a TMS and LMS together. The TMS would handle all the back-end functions, while the LMS would be the student-facing software. But if you had to choose one, here's a quick and dirty way to decide.

If your organization is more interested in providing a wide variety of educational offerings to your employees and associates, then an LMS may be your better choice. If you need to provide additional incentives to students to engage with the classroom, then the LMS might be better suited to your needs. And if you don't need to track attendance, or if your main focus is not policy and accreditation compliance, then an LMS has more of what you need.

But if you need something geared more toward a corporate setting and is more administrative focused, then you should consider a TMS. If you have to keep track of hundreds, if not thousands, of training hours, then the TMS is going to be your better bet.

Why? Because you want something that lets you handle reporting, can easily tie into your policy management platform, and lets you automatically connect new/updated policies into your different training modules.

The PowerDMS training management tool connects with your policy and accreditation processes, making it easier to keep track of everyone's training requirements and whether they've completed them or not.

To learn more, you can visit the PowerDMS website and even request a free demo of our TMS.

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