The successful implementation of e-Learning strategies depends on careful planning and the execution of a virtual training plan. The smooth execution of this plan requires a committed team, led by a project manager determined to achieving all the e-Learning goals proposed.
The need for a project leader in the organization
While different organizations require particular e-Learning implementation strategies suited to their own culture and characteristics, an e-Learning project lacking an in-company leader is like a ship lacking a captain. Even with all proper implementation guidelines provided by the supplier, there is a need for an in-company advocate ensuring all required steps are taken. This is the internal e-Learning project leader whose role is key in achieving all virtual-training objectives.
The project leader’s main tasks include:
- Ensuring the supplier provides a product fitting the firm’s specific training requirements and business objectives.
- Identifying the firm’s real training needs.
- Providing management with information on the quality of the supplier’s product and service, as well as on project’s stages.
- Supervising every stage of the e-Learning project and coordinating in-house reviews and meetings.
- Identifying and assigning internal responsibilities.
- Leading the project’s implementation and internal marketing.
- Ensuring the goals for the e-Learning strategy are achieved, through evaluation at different levels.
- Supervises the full life cycle of the project.
The project leader’s profile
Both the project leader’s profile and that of his/her supporting team are key to success. It is highly convenient that this responsibility is assigned to a leader fully committed with the firm’s objectives and able to manage staff. The project leader’s role as a motivator is very important, and his/her ability to involve managers in the project is of consequence to the project’s success.
Our experience as an eLearning developing company, the more the executives and top-managers get involved in the project, the better the project’s results. Training accounts for fast growth and success for both the firm and the employees.
Operationally, among other things, the project leader/manager must also:
- Make sure people are taking the course.
- Implement training schedules together with the supplier’s Learning Manager.
- Manage the Learning Management System, LMS.
- Procure grades and progress reports from course participants.
- Evaluate courses and assess performance improvement.
- Ensures the team has the information it needs to get the job done.
To facilitate e-Learning coordination and management, support from the supplier is required throughout the entire process. Provided the supplier offers recommendations plus a structured process backed with checklists at each stage, the manager’s work focuses chiefly on carrying out specific activities rather than on planning the entire implementation strategy.
One of the most relevant activities the project’s leader must conduct is spending time in motivating and in-house marketing of training. In our experience, these activities are sometimes underestimated. However, they are the real drivers of the project and the ones that can avoid failure in the e-Learning strategy.
In support of our recommendation, Ralph Coleman and Leslie LaPlace have stated that “A broad communication strategy to announce the e-Learning initiative must send the right message to the right groups, through the best channels and at the right time. This strategy creates expectation for the initiative, markets its benefits, and meets users’ needs… Communicating the new e-Learning initiative through both e-mail and the firm’s newsletter is not enough to ensure successful implementation.” (e-Learning Implementation, page 7, October 2002, RGS Associates, www.rgsinc.com)
Some things to keep in mind:
- Always remember that eLearning projects manage two very different teams: Instructional Designers and Software Developers. Therefore, successful elearning project leaders need to build a bridge between these two.
- Understand the project: eLearning Project Leaders must keep a high-level understanding of the goals, objectives, steps, tasks, and tradeoffs involved. It's vital they carefully track what works and what doesn't in order to create standarized processes for future projects.