Learning Management Systems (LMS) Showdown: Saba vs. Sumtotal

Learning Management Systems (LMS) Showdown: Saba vs. SumTotal

I'm Larry Blitz, editor of TEC's Vendor Showdown series. Today's Showdown pits two major learning management system vendors against each other, head-to-head: Saba Software and SumTotal Systems.

I hope you find this LMS Showdown helpful and informative. I welcome all your comments and questions at showdown@technologyevaluation.com.

The Two Vendors at a Glance …

Saba vs. SumTotal
These two vendors have similar profiles in many ways. Both are leading LMS suppliers, and both operate in largely the same markets. The main differences show up in the functionality ratings, presented in the two graphs below.
Year established
1997 2004 (merger of Docent and Click2learn)
2400 Bridge Parkway

Redwood Shores, California 94065


Phone: 1-650-581-2500

Fax: 1-650-696-1773

1808 North Shoreline Blvd.

Mountain View , California 94043


Phone: 1-650-934-9500

Fax: 1-650-962-9411
Both are headquartered in the same country, same state, and even the same time zone.
Office locations worldwide

US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, UK, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, India

US, UK, France, Germany, India, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Japan
Web Site


Solution types
learning, collaboration, performance, and talent management learning, performance, and talent management
Fundamentally the same types of product offerings.
Number of employees


SumTotal is about 33 percent larger in terms of employees.
Number of users/organizations
17 million/1,300 18 million/1,500
Amazingly similar numbers!
Marquis accounts
Cisco, Dell, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Sprint, BMW, US Army and Navy, Chrysler Citigroup, Microsoft, Accenture, United Airlines, Aetna, Harley-Davidson, US Army and Navy, Chrysler
Like we said, these vendors have very similar profiles. Both list the US Army and Navy and Chrysler as clients
Annual revenue
$107.78 million USD (2008)* $121.92 million USD (2007)*
Return on average assets
-3.49% Annual TTM (trailing twelve months)* -1.69 % Annual TTM (trailing twelve months)*
SumTotal's market cap is double the size of Saba's, but both are in the same league. No David and Goliath story here.
Return on average equity
-7.23% Annual (TTM)* -2.57 % Annual (TTM)*

*All financial data from Finance.google.com

Saba's Learning Suite vs. SumTotal's Talent Development Suite …

Overall Performance Rankings

The overall rankings you see above are based on the vendor's most recent responses to the 730 criteria in our LMS request for information (RFI). As you can see, Saba edges out SumTotal 88.93 to 87.94 in the overall scoring. The chart below shows you how each vendor performed in the 17 modules that make up the LMS RFI.

Below are the individual LMS module rankings. As indicated, SumTotal finished first in 8 of the 17 modules, but it must be emphasized that in many of the modules, the scores were extremely close. Saba finished first in six modules, and three were a dead heat.

Main Module Performance Rankings

Saba's Learning Suite vs. SumTotal's Talent Development Suite: Rankings by Module


If there were two vendors that couldn't be more similar, it's these two. While both vendors primarily deal with the same types of solutions (learning, collaboration, performance, and talent management), Saba managed to edge out its competition (SumTotal) by a narrow margin (a mere 0.99 rating points) in the main module rankings.

It is important to note that the graphs above represent purely a quantitative evaluation (based on TEC's decision model). They are not based on a qualitative evaluation. The quantitative evaluation looks strictly at the product's capability (e.g., whether it is supported, not supported, third party, etc.) and creates the “performance ratings” based on the percentage of functionality supported by the product.

As the functionality graphs show, Classroom Training, E-learning, Custom Content Authoring, Performance Support, Competency and Performance Management, Reporting, and Product Technology modules all scored similarly (with a three point or less rating margin), but SumTotal fell behind in the areas of E-commerce support (due to its weak ratings in shopping cart and mobile user support areas) and Analytics (due to weak ratings in its financial measures and tools and links to its financial systems).

Saba showed similar difficulties with and Language Support (where Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, and a few other languages were not supported).

The vendors' ratings in Course Content Authoring, Communication and Collaboration, Assessment and Evaluation, Blended Learning, Usability, and Support modules were very close. Saba, however, was a clear winner in the area of Virtual Classrooms due to the fact that these capabilities are offered by SumTotal through third party support.

Do Your Own Quick, Custom LMS Evaluation

Now that you've had an overall look at a couple of LMS vendors and solutions, how do you determine which LMS solutions are the best fit for your company's unique needs? We recommend you do a quick comparison using TEC's LMS Evaluation Center .

TEC's LMS Evaluation Center allows you to set priorities that reflect your organization's business model and special needs at every level of functionality. At the modular and submodular levels—even down to the individual criteria—you can tell the system which business processes are critical, less important, or not important to your organization. The system then compares your priorities against the vendor responses to produce a shortlist of solutions. You get a custom comparison—one that ranks vendor solutions on how well their functionality matches the business requirements of your organization.

It's the best way we know of to evaluate LMS solutions, and we invite you to give it a run-through. Plus, you'll get your results in mere minutes. Simply click the link below to visit our LMS Evaluation Center and conduct your fast, free custom LMS comparison. After all, there's no other organization quite like yours.

For a free, custom comparison of LMS solutions, click below.

Find out which LMS solutions are best suited to your company's particular requirements and type of business.

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