So you're going to start a new eLearning program? Are you apprehensive about getting buy-in from the stakeholders, developing the team, communicating and leading the program? Then here are some time-tested tips to significantly reduce the time you get your project onboard, minimizing risky surprises, and successfully closing the project.
#1: Find Active Executive Sponsors
For effective implementation of your eLearning strategy, you need active sponsors i.e. sponsors who not only have the power and authority to approve and implement your eLearning plan, but who will own it and actively support it across every level of the organization.
Remember, with every new eLearning project you enter into uncharted territory of an organization. You do not know how company’s culture works or how various stakeholders perceive the role and impact of eLearning (for them or the organization). Prevent, or at least minimize the risk of stakeholders (managers, teams, and learners) giving a shallow buy-in, and hence not prioritizing virtual training.
Ideally, a sponsor has to be someone who can champion the use of the new learning platform and has the authority and respected say — so that when she/he starts to evangelize about the project to other people, they listen, readily form their feedback, and participate.
Finding such active sponsorship will have a direct impact on the commitment and participation from others because when “the boss takes the wheels,” others quickly jump on board — dramatically increasing the likelihood of sustained commitment and participation throughout the project.
#2: Create a Detailed Communication Plan
Choosing the right team for developing the resources for your eLearning project is crucial for the success of your project. However, even the best and most collaborative teams will be unable to work efficiently and deliver results unless they have defined roles and a communication plan.
A communication plan paints a broader picture, identifying dependencies and allowing you to establish how communication can be established for increased collaboration amongst team members.
Begin by identifying and selecting the participants for the project, and clearly communicating what the project is about, how it supports the organization’s strategy, what they will gain from it, and what their roles and responsibilities are. This limits their scope shows that work is divided, and at the same time highlights inter-dependencies with other members — and the need for collaborative communication.
#3: Outsource Development, In-Source Insights, and Content Ideas
Remember that time is a scarce and precious resource: one that can neither be created nor bought. Hence, as a project manager you must avoid the temptation of saving costs by tackling all aspects of the project on your own or with the in-house team.
There is no doubt that often the crux of your eLearning project’s content comes from internal resources and SMEs with expertise and experience in those areas. However, at times your internal team will lack certain skills. In such cases, as the project leader you must assess when it is cost-effective, or necessary, to outsource work and when in-house resources will deliver the required level of results.
The rule of thumb is to outsource when you experience one or more of the following:
- Repetitive, overly detailed, and time-consuming tasks (including ones that induce procrastination or distract you from the bigger picture)
- Tasks that require specialized skills which your team lacks
- Increased volume of work that is affecting your project timeline
- Supplementing your internal resources (overcoming lack of SMEs in the required area, lack of skills, etc.)
Keep in mind that though outsourcing reduces the workload, it also forfeits complete control over the work process. Hence, when outsourcing, always start small and ensure that you are a good fit working together.
- In Or Out: Should You Outsource the Development of Your eLearning Content?
- Should You Consider Outsourcing eLearning?
#4: Invest Time Researching and Selecting the Right Tools
ELearning software forms the foundation of every eLearning strategy. Every usable deliverable, module, or resource planned for creation throughout the project timeline, and the overall implementation of the eLearning course depends on how effective your selected software is.
Hence, it is crucial that you research the authoring tool (and even seek a demonstration) before investing in it. According to Karl Kapp's article in eLearningMag, you should assess and score the software for five traits:
- Its Compatibility —Is it compatible with other design tools you will be using? Will it integrate and work with the other organizational tools and software?
- Its Accessibility — Is it a premium solution requiring high investments? Is it subscription based, or one-time solution? What about backend support? Will it need dedicated professional services to learn how to use it?
- Its Usability — Does it offer an intuitive dashboard, simplified design, and a short learning curve? What about features? Does it offer the versatility needed to allow growth and scalability with the organization?
- Its Modularity — Does it come as a one-size-fits-all solution with a baggage of features that may not be needed for the project? Does it have extensions? Can the features be removed before investing?
- Its Maintainability — Does it feature automated updates? Can it be upgraded and maintained remotely, or does it require onsite maintenance and rebooting of servers? Etc.
Remember, investment in an eLearning authoring tool is a long-term investment. Once made, it will hard to shift from it. Hence, find the eLearning authoring tools that will not only help you achieve training goals, but also long-term business goals.