Learning teams and agencies strive to create learning content as fast as possible. In this article, we will talk about project management process in learning development.
Teams are on a 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 proper assignment of issues.
Learning Creation can tend to be chaotic, if proper processes are not followed. Missing deadlines and ineffective content also results from an unplanned learning delivery.
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 are a must for a collaborative process to create effective e-learning.
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
- Define the project flow and stages
It is important to spend time in setting 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 devised. Having a solid project strategy at the beginning helps teams become more powerful and help stakeholders play on each others 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.
An 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 define the colours, characters, tone, language for the course. Having 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 or language that can be followed across modules.
Example of an e-learning style guide
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.
A constant communication at every stage with the SME is important to avoid edits in the future. It is best to keep them involved right from the brainstorming stage to the end of delivery to ensure a course that delivers value.
While Subject Matter Expert bring 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.
4. Have a common platform for deliverables and tasks
E-learning 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 a 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 at 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 their 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 creating slides, to making edits and then writing custom scripts, everything can be measured according to the course type and length.
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. 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 takes several iterations to produce an effective piece of learning and depends a lot on the learner, the environment and the learning motivation.
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 a 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 delivery e-learning project ensures
- Better task management and quicker decision making
- Better quality content.
- Cohesion amongst the team members
- Alignment with the business needs and goals
- Better control over development lifecycle
It is imperative to spend time on setting a clear workflow to set yourself up for success.