Firmwater (which begins at $495 per month) is an online learning platform aimed specifically at training companies. Much of the competition focuses on business customers managing in-house training. Functionally, this doesn’t separate it too far from the pack, but you should still be clear on how you plan to use the system before purchasing it. Then again, if you’re operating a training company that creates online courses for sale to companies and individual learners, then Firmwater may be a no-brainer. Unlike Mindflash and Editors’ Choice Docebo, Firmwater’s objective is to help you automate and sell your training sessions to a broad audience. Thanks to its integration with e-commerce company Shopify, you can seamlessly sell your courses online without ever leaving the console.
How Pricing Works
You can start using Firmwater with a free 14-day trial, and thereafter for $495 per month for its Starter plan. This plan gives you access to an unlimited number of users, up to 100 active courses per month, and two client portals. It’s useful for training companies that deliver online education. For example, let’s say you create classes offline that you sell online via Shopify, but you’re also the training company of record for a small business. You can create a branded portal for your company and an entirely separate branded one with your client’s logos and colors.
If you need to increase your number of active courses or portals, then the price increases. All plans include unlimited users. Firmwater offers an $895-per-month plan that includes up to 200 active courses and five client portals. If you need up to 400 active courses and 10 client portals, then Firmwater will charge you $1,295 per month. For more than 400 active classes per month and 10-plus client portals, you can contact the company for a custom-tailored price. If a client would like to add an application programming interface (API) integration or a custom domain, then they can add these for a small fee. Customers can also pay for one year of service upfront, and accumulate all course starts with a one-month-free discount. This option is useful for seasonal businesses.
Firmwater’s price structure is a bit of an outlier in the enterprise training industry. This is because Firmwater is designed with the training company in mind as opposed to the in-house trainer. Firmwater’s competitors charge based on the number of active users who will be using the system to train. They typically offer an unlimited number of classes but limit the portals and users who can access the system. For example, Firmwater charges $495 per month for 100 courses, two client portals, and an unlimited number of users. Rivals like Docebo, LearnUpon, and WizIQ offer pricing that depends on how many people will consistently use your system.
WizIQ starts at $25 per month for 25 users and jumps up to $420 per month for 500 users. LearnUpon starts at $599 per month for 50 active users and one client portal, and climbs up to $1,499 per month for 500 active users and five client portals. Docebo starts at $3.33 per user per month for up to 300 active users. All of these systems will expand beyond the stated maximum capacity for an unspecified price depending on how many users will be using the system.
Firmwater, meanwhile, charges based on course starts since the focus of the system is on how many people you get to take a course. Again, this is a subtle difference. But let’s say you’re an in-house trainer who purchased Firmwater because you like the simplicity of the system. If your company suddenly hires 500 people and those people need training immediately, then you’re looking at a $3.95 charge for each of your 500 new employees.
If you’re a mom-and-pop training company that creates classes and sells them on a Shopify e-commerce site, then you want to be ready for a million people to sign up. However, you don’t want to pay for that many licenses. With Firmwater, you’re only given a surcharge once you’ve gone over the number of course starts you purchased at the beginning of the month. But since you’ve probably already factored that possibility into the price of your course, you’ll still be able to reap the rewards of your sudden sales boom.
Training Software for Beginners
Every company that signs on with Firmwater receives support from a trainer who will help your team get set up and running. The trainer will explain all of the concepts of using the system—from loading content to designing specific portals. This feature is available to every customer at every price tier. However, most people who have ever used business software will find it easy to create classes, adjust the branding, search for users, or read reports. It’s is one of the most intuitive user interfaces (UI) you’ll find on any business software available.
However, because of its simplicity, Firmwater is also limited in terms of its functionality. Unlike Docebo, Mindflash, and WizIQ, Firmwater’s integrations begin and end with Shopify and Chargify. Yes, Firmwater has an open application programming interface (API) but only at the top price tiers. So, organizations that intend to tie the system to other business software will have to fork over extra cash each month. Again, this shouldn’t be a significant issue for the mom-and-pop training company whose primary goal is to sell content online. But if you’re a midsize business that wants to integrate your tool with customer relationship management (CRM) software or human resources (HR) management software, then you’re out of luck.
Firmwater is available in English, French, German, and Spanish, but even with four available languages, it’s still far behind the competition. For reference: Docebo supports 33 different languages and localizations, WizIQ supports 11, Mindflash delivers its console in 10, and LearnUpon is available in six.
Firmwater is built explicitly for training companies, and its intention is pure delivery of online and mobile-optimized training. Therefore, you won’t find the gorgeous learner experience you’ll find on other systems like Docebo and LearnUpon. With Docebo, you’re able to toggle between Learner and Admin modes to see how the user will view your content once it’s published. To give you another example: With LearnUpon, as a learner, you’ll see beautiful widgets telling you which courses you have to take, administrator-loaded welcome videos, calendars, and more. However, when you log into Firmwater, as a learner, all you’ll see are links to your courses and a note telling you how far into the course you are.
For companies that wish to conduct live training followed by quizzes, you’ll have to use web conferencing tools external to the Firmwater console. Most of the other tools we reviewed offer this live training with an embedded web conferencing tool. But, since Firmwater isn’t built to promote sustained user training, it doesn’t have this functionality. However, Firmwater has an enhanced video player that lets you load an MP4 video, to which the system will then automatically add a Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) wrapper.
The Features You’ll Love
Firmwater has an in-depth reporting tool that you can use to track things such as time on a page and the IP address of the learner. The platform also features a time-out mechanism that acts as a failsafe if a learner leaves the platform open on a public computer.
For content delivery, you’ll be able to manage almost every aspect of how, when, and for how long content is available and to whom. You can assign courses by geography, department, and title, among other characteristics. You can determine when the assignments go live when they’re due and when the content will no longer be available.
Everything about your console can be branded and customized—from the log-in screen to the certificate learners receive after completing classes. You can manage it all on your own. But, if you’d like to customize your dashboard or your navigation, then you’ll have to contact Firmwater. Most customizations are free of charge, but there is an undisclosed one-time fee for massive dashboard overhauls.
Like the other training software we reviewed, Firmwater can deliver any piece of content that you’ll find on an HTML5 website. Playback is as stable as your bandwidth and system allow. For example, content creators can load 4K video into a SCORM or directly into Firmwater via a link to an external site, and the video will playback for the learner in 4K without any degradation. (At least as long as the user has the broadband speed and a 4K monitor designed to deliver that level of content).
The Bottom Line
If your goal is to train your entire staff on new corporate policy, then you’re better off with a different system, such as Docebo, LearnUpon, or Mindflash. These tools offer more attractive, more technologically advanced experiences that are capable of tying into your CRM and HR systems. Firmwater is a barebones tool that doesn’t provide the dynamic back-end content creation, monitoring, or learning experience that you’ll find on other systems.
However, if you want to make money selling your lessons, then Firmwater is an excellent choice. It’s an online learning platform for business that makes authoring, distributing, and profiting from content simple as pie. Additionally, Firmwater’s pricing model is built to suit your needs. With every other system we’ve reviewed, your tool would cap out at a certain amount of lesson starts whereas Firmwater charges a course start fee. If your goal is to get your tutorials into as many hands as possible without worrying about maxing out, then Firmwater is the ideal tool for you.