eLearning Project Tip 8: Stop SWAG Bids, Save $$$

eLearning Project Tip 8: Stop SWAG Bids, Save $$$

eLearning Learning Best Article

eLearning Project Tip 8: Stop SWAG Bids, Save $$$

How do you control costs and become the company eLearning hero?
By stopping SWAG bids and breaking the traditional one contract system into two! What?

Instead of putting out the traditional one contract training development bid and hoping companies will give you best pricing, turn the tables to your favor. Use a two contract system.

Contract One: Hire an Experienced eLearning Instructional Designer if one is not available in your company. Work through the Design Phase together to build the training project scope.

Your Design Phase Deliverables should include creating four key documents: Timeline & Milestones, Statement of Work (SOW), Project Plan, and Course Outline.

Contract Two: Solicit bids using the SOW for the Development Phase and stop SWAG bids forever. Using this tip, along with following detailed checklists will save your project up to 50% in staff time-on-task and production costs on your FIRST project.

Once you have implemented the system, “rinse and repeat” for more savings on all future projects.

If you found this tip useful, check out the eLearningRoadmap.com system.

How Important is the Design Phase?

How Important is the Design Phase?

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How important is the Design Phase in producing a high quality online training (eLearning, wbt, cbt) program? The Design Phase is critical.

Why?  The Design Phase is both the instructional and technical foundation of the finished product.  If you get the Design Phase completed properly, you have a detailed road map to drive the Development and Deployment phases. If you do not complete the Design Phase the right way, you will end up with cost-overruns of re-work, redefining the project scope, and lots of stress.

How do you know if you have completed the Design Phase properly?  Many novices think that if they have a template picked out and a general topic defined they have met the requirements.  No, that is not enough. So what is the goal?  There are three defined objectives that must be met in the Design Phase.  They are:

1. Selection of the Project Team: From the Sr. Management to the content developers, you must name the people that will be stakeholders and contributors.  Knowing who you will work with and their specific roles and responsibilities is important.  Many teams are now a mixture of internal staff and external consultants.  If this is your first project, save time by dealing with one point of contact and consider hiring an Instructional Design Agency rather than single consultants. It’s less paperwork, hassle, and you have a team ready to go.

Identify Existing Information, Data and Information Gaps: Whether you are “recycling” an existing classroom training program or starting a new program, it is critical to gather all of the relevant documentation to sift and sort upfront.The Instructional Designer and the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are responsible for completing this task.  While this does take time to complete, it will save so much time on the back-end, if new information suddenly appears or if you realize that critical information was left out.Need to Know and Good to Know: It’s critical to define what information needs to be taught.  We call this info separation,  Need to Know and Good to Know.  Need to Know becomes part of the course lessons, Good to Know is great to add as a resource library for those who want to take a deeper dive into the information.

What types of information will be included?  it really is a decision on the SME, but they would typically want to review can include:  white papers, manufacturing specifications, product marketing and sales information and even previous training programs. Just as important is knowing the “information gaps” where critical key points have been left out or new information needs to be added.  The information needed depends entirely upon what the SME determines is critical for learner audiences to learn and demonstrate competency when completing the course.

2. Design Phase Deliverables – Four Key Documents: After researching and determining the types of information that need to be included, it is time to create the four document deliverables for the Design Phase.The four documents are Timeline & Milestones (your daily project management tool). The Timeline & Milestones is critical to your success. Get this right and your project easily falls into place. Ignore it, get it wrong or put if off until later and you will suffer project pain, delays and potential failure.

The Statement of Work is used to provide a proposal document if you are having external instructional design agencies bidding on work.The Project Plan is created for your senior management as an overview and budgeting tool. Finally the Course Outline is shared with everyone at the Stakeholder Kickoff Meeting to give the vision and introduce team members.

All of these document (Statement of Work, Project Plan, and Course Outline) contain information from the Timeline & Milestones, so you see how critical that document really is?

3. How much time should the Design Phase take? For example, a finished 8-10 hour eLearning course would typically takes about 80 hours of Design Phase research and document preparation (if you are using templates to prepare the four key documents, if not add on another 40 hours).  Expect the Design Phase to be about 20% of the entire project budget.

Now would you agree the Design Phase is truly is the important phase of the eLearning project? 

= = =

Want to get up to speed on completing Design Phase tasks in two short 90-minute training sessions?
Check out >  eLearning Management Academy (eMA) Bootcamp   www.emabootcamp.com 

Article Author:
V. Karen Miller, M.Ed.  CEO, Design2Train  |  eMA Bootcamp Author
Karen is an industry award-winning instructional designer with corporate global delivery experience. She founded Design2Train in 2001 and is based in The Woodlands, TX.  Her “Tiger-Team” approach to eLearning development matches the right experienced instructional designers and content developers to the project.  Her teams have successfully produced hundreds of eLearning to corporate and government agencies.  Design2Train is a federally certified WOSB.

For More Information:
Contact Karen at:  Miller@Design2Train

Tasked with eLearning?

Tasked with eLearning?

Are you a NON-training professional tasked with delivering an eLearning project? It’s a trend we are observing all too often these days.

With so many corporate “right-sizing” and mergers, unfortunately the training department staff are often the first to go and last to be re-hired. Even if you have a training department, they are probably so bogged down with mandatory compliance and classroom course development and delivery, there’s probably not an experienced eLearning instructional designer available for guidance, much less available to work on your new project.

Is there hope? Yes.
Over 75% of our clients fit into the “non-training professional category. Many of them  carry real job titles like: Sales Director, Product Manager, Marketing Strategist, Environmental Engineer, or Construction Safety Manager. And guess what? They have successfully delivered online training, even on their first project because they have followed a proven plan. 

How did they do it? Here are three strategies that work.

Strategy 1: Hire an experienced eLearning instructional designer to “tag-team” the project with you.

Spend your time focusing on your strength, management, not course development. There is NO reason for a non-training professional to attempt to become a training professional overnight or within the project timeline. You were selected to lead the project, not become a content developer. If an experienced elearning instructional designer is not available from your corporate staff, hire a consultant. 

What will you do?  Spend your time focusing on managing the “corporate side”, including:

  • selection and recruitment of senior management
  • securing internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to provide accurate content
  • interviewing the “right stakeholders” (with the instructional designer) to gather project critical information
  • run interference on project roadblocks
  • keep the project moving along with the timeline and milestone deliverables

Strategy 2: Use a two-contract system instead of a traditional one-contract system to get the best bid back for the development phase.

Separate the project Design phase from the Development phases (yes, there are two) and the Deployment phase. Use the first contract to hire an experienced eLearning instructional designer to help prepare the Design Phase deliverables. 

Why choose an experienced tag-team partner?  You want someone with experience who has created many projects and can help you avoid project pitfalls.  You want someone to help you LOOK GOOD at the end of the successful project. 

By separating the project into two contracts, you are forced to decide the project scope in detail.  The four key documents to complete in the Design Phase are: The Timeline & Milestones (spreadsheet), Statement of Work (SOW) used as the proposal document, Project Plan to give to senior management for project justification, and the Course Outline that is shared with your stakeholder team at the initial Kickoff Meeting. 

By spending about 20-25% of your project time on Design Phase planning, will SAVE you 50% on staff time-on-task (SMEs will love you) and 50% on lowering production costs (your boss will love you).  By using pre-made templates on all documents will save you hours (or days) in preparing them. But most important you will have Confidence knowing the “big picture” and knowing the flow of project tasks and activities.  

Did you know how many tasks and activities in a normal eLearning project?  Over 50 Tasks and 150 Activities!  No wonder you cannot keep track of an eLearning project without a plan. 

Strategy 3: Stop SWAG bidding in it’s tracks. Quit being ripped off on eLearning budgets.

SWAG bids are the slang term for Silly Wild Ass Guess Bids.  Typically when a company puts out a training proposal they are in a time crunch and just want to get started on the project and the looming deadline.  By using the two-contract system, as explained above, you ELIMINATE SWAG bidding forever. 

How?  Because you have a specific plan for the size and scope of the project.  You will signify if there are special audio narrations, video productions, and requirements up front.  The instructional design agencies or training developers will be bidding on producing a defined number of courses, lessons (or hours) of instruction.  The companies come back with their best bids and you can easily compare apples to apples on hourly rates or reviewing their proposal examples.  

Being able to produce a well written SOW can save thousands of dollars on bids, because the agency can bid flat fee with confidence that you know what you want.  If for some reason there is a need to create an extra addendum, you can specify how that will be addressed in the SOW.  

So, there you have three strategies that you can employ on your first and every project from now on.  By following these strategies and employing a proven plan will help you earn the title of Super eLearning Hero at your company.  

Want to learn more on how to consistently deliver eLearning projects on-time and budget? 
Want to get a ROI of $5K-$25K on your first project?
Want to get up to speed on completing Design Phase tasks in two short 90-minute training sessions? 
Check out >  eLearning Management Academy (eMA) Bootcamp 

Article Author:
Valerie K Miller, M.Ed.  CEO, Design2Train  |  eLearning Roadmap Author
Valerie is an industry award-winning instructional designer with corporate global delivery experience. She founded Design2Train in 2001 and is base north of San Antonio, TX in the TX Hill Country.  Her “Tiger-Team” approach to eLearning development matches the right experienced instructional designers and content developers to the project.  Her teams have successfully produced hundreds of eLearning to corporate and government agencies.  Design2Train is a federally certified WOSB. 

For More Information:
Contact Valerie at:  Miller@Design2Train  or  Office: 281-367-1282


Be The Project Leader, Don’t Fail as a Training Developer WannaBe!

Be The Project Leader, Don’t Fail as a Training Developer WannaBe!

eLearning Learning Best Article

eLearning Project Tip 9: Be The Project Leader, Don’t Fail as a Training Developer WannaBe!

How do you control costs, deliver your first successful eLearning project, and earn the red cape of eLearning superhero?

Just because you can use PowerPoint and take iPhone videos does NOT make you a Training Professional.

Can you successfully deliver an eLearning project if you DO NOT have a training background? YES. BUT YOU NEED HELP! HINT: Hire an experienced eLearning Professional to Tag-Team with you to deliver your project ON-time and ON-budget.

What is your role? Serve as the Project Manager. No, you don’t need to be a “real certified project manager”. Your role is to focus on managing the company assets and ensure all critical project tasks and activities are met.

Releasing control of developing the training elements to the experienced eLearning instructional designer ENSURES the project will deliver on-time and MAKE YOU LOOK GOOD.

Get going with the eMA Quick Start option in two short 90-minute sessions. Get the knowledge, confidence and skills to manage the project.

If you found this tip useful, check out a free SME onboarding video (no signup) at: www.eMAbootcamp.com