Learning teams and agencies strive to create learning content as fast as possible. In this article, we will talk about the project management process in learning development.

Teams are under constant pressure to create both learner effectiveness while keeping in mind the overall business goals of the organization. The key to creating a balance between both and managing expectations is to resolve issues quickly and properly assignment of issues.

Learning development can tend to be chaotic if proper processes are not followed. Missing deadlines and ineffective content also result from an unplanned learning delivery. Effective collaboration amongst the stakeholders can help set up the team for success.

Lack of process, proper task assignments, and accountability, prioritization can make learning delivery a challenging task. For learning teams, a consistent process, setting common goals and expectations is a must for a collaborative process to create effective eLearning project management process. 

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6 Tips for establishing process in learning development

Assigning roles and priorities can help create a repeatable process in e-learning. Here are a few tips to establish an effective process for learning delivery

project management tips

1. Define the project flow and stages

It is important to spend time in setting a clear project structure with the roles and responsibilities clearly defined. What are the essential project stages? Who approves at every project stage? What are the timelines for each stage?

Signing off courses requires reviews from several stakeholders. Setting the right expectations from the review cycles is important. Not having clearly demarcated responsibilities for approvals can lead to confusion amongst stakeholders and can delay the decision-making process. It is common to hear things like this:

This needs to go through an approval process from XYZ, did you talk to them?”
“ We already implemented this change, is it not showing up in the latest version”
“ Oh, I thought the script will be written before finalizing the final spec”

To keep the process clear for each stakeholder, a higher-level project plan needs to be devised. Having a solid project strategy at the beginning helps teams become more powerful and help stakeholders play on each other’s strengths. Every team can have multiple stakeholders, from copywriters to instructional designers, subject matter experts, and project owners. 

Each phase should have clearly defined deliverables and expectations from each stakeholder. Every stakeholder will have a clear idea as to what their involvement is at each phase. Not just that, they should also have a clear idea of the level of review or detail required for each phase. E.g the first phase might just be to define the look and feel and the basic structure, while the last phase will be all about details like spelling, grammar, flow, etc. 

2. Create a visual/ style guide

Course creators need to evaluate learning goals, keep learners in mind, and how effective they are in delivering the learning content.

Effective e-learning requires a lot of planning and effort. Creating a course template can help simplify the process. A template is like a high-level guide to defining the colors, characters, tone, language for the course. Having a clearly defined tone, structure, etc helps the entire team be on the same page and also keeps the course consistent across multiple modules.

The template does not have to be a detailed charter for everything involved, but more like a philosophy of language that can be followed across modules.

Visual Style Guide
Image Credits: Dribbble

3. Collaborate with the subject matter expert

SME’s are very important in creating accurate and effective courses. Setting the right expectations for collaboration with the SME helps set the stage early on. It is important to explain to them early on as to when their feedback will be crucial and how you plan on gathering feedback easily.

Slack surveyed 7000 company workers to find out “unclear communication” is the top collaboration challenge for all teams.

While Subject Matter Expert brings in their knowledge, it is important for the team to blend it with the instructional design knowledge that they have. The SME shares the what and the design team brings in the how to say what to say in the equation. All that requires a collaborative, concerted effort. The primary aim is to reduce the barrier of language as much as possible and try to match the frequencies of SMEs and instructional design experts.

4. Have a common platform for deliverables and tasks

eLearning courses entail several deliverables. It is important to have one common platform to be able to access multiple versions of each deliverable. On top of that, having a common place to view all tasks related to each deliverable creates transparency amongst several stakeholders involved in the production process.

Partial communication over email, spreadsheets, conference calls, can bring in a lot of confusion amongst stakeholders.  Team members can feel lost in the project delivery process and searching for past references becomes nearly impossible.

A common platform with deliverables, tasks, deadlines helps keep the entire team on the same page. It is imperative to keep teams aligned to stay productive and stick to deadlines and also make estimates for future projects. zipBoard is a platform that helps keep all courses, images, videos, or any other media produced in one place. It helps manage reviews and feedback and integrate them into project tasks and effectively keep the teams on track. It helps you to avoid unnecessary meetings to share screens, rather let the stakeholders create videos and screenshots to explain issues.

5. Create a repeatable process

Every project can have its own set of complications and requirements. While it is impossible to create accurate predictions for the time and effort required to produce a certain course, it definitely helps to have a repeatable process to create more informed estimates. It helps to set the right expectations at the beginning of a project and timelines. Keeping buffers for reviews and errors can help make better project plans. It also ensures that the quality is maintained while adhering to deadlines.

It is important to measure the effort of the past projects to be able to predict the future ones. Taking into account the time for writing copy to create slides, making edits, and then writing custom scripts, everything can be measured according to the course type and length.

For instance, it is quite helpful to have a few playbooks or incorporate SOP software that carefully describes the broader steps for any task. For example, if an eLearning course is in the research phase, a playbook contains the steps on how to research a particular topic. It doesn’t have to be really comprehensive but as long as it provides a solid outline, it will make the process easier and save time.

6. Measure the success of the Courses

It is one thing to create courses that may look like a great success, but the true success is measured by the learners’ effectiveness. Defining the measurable parameters that signal the efficiency of the deployed eLearning course should be done in the beginning. It is important as an instructional design team to measure the success of the course to be able to improve at every stage of the project and for subsequent courses. 

It is important to set goals at the beginning of the project to be able to measure the effectiveness of those at the end of course delivery. Setting the right metrics to measure success, starting from course completeness to engagement, or any other parameters that you define at the start of the project helps create courses that align with the business needs.

A process-driven approach to the delivery of eLearning project ensures

      1. Better task management and quicker decision making

      2. Better quality content.

      3. Cohesion amongst the team members

      4. Alignment with the business needs and goals

      5. Better control over development life-cycle

It is imperative to spend time on setting a clear workflow to set yourself up for success.

Wrapping up

Suffice to say that there are now predefined set of steps that an eLearning development team can follow to guarantee success. The goal is to create a dynamic strategy which can be modified as deemed necessary be the members of the L&D team. In the age of information, agile in eLearning development has become the norm because of that exact reason. The six tips which are suggested above focus on collaboratively defining your own process in the path of eLearning development.

Do you have any more tips? Let us know in the comments.

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