eLearning Project Management Tip #12: Contributors vs Stakeholders

What is the difference between Contributors and Stakeholders on an eLearning Project Management Team? Contributors are team members with whom you will normally meet with once, but their knowledge is critical to project success. Examples of training contributors could include:

  • Marketing Manager
  • Training Manager (if not directly involved in the project)
  • LMS Administrator /Webmaster
  • Audio Narrator
  • Videographer / Video Editor

Each of these contributors has one special expertise that they bring to the project.

Stakeholders are more actively involved in the daily operations of the eLearning project.  They have “skin in the game” and are very interested in making sure the program is successful.   Examples of stakeholders:

  • Senior management (Supervisor and “Champion” VP or Director)
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • Instructional Designer
  • Content Developer
  • Graphics Artist

The combination of contributors and stakeholders changes with each project, but their contributions are essential to the eLearning project being delivered on-time and budget, while meeting instructional goals.

eLearning Project Management Tip #10: Contributors and Their Role

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In the Design Phase… Contributors provide specialized resources. You will normally meet with contributors only one time.  Who you choose as project contributors depends entirely upon the content of your training.

Here are some different types of contributors you might want to consider:  NOTE: If you work for a multi-national corporation, in addition to local product managers, equally important are national, regional and geographic field managers who can be helpful to bringing a “bigger picture perspective”.

Global Training Leaders can also offer suggestions on how to “localize content” by recommending alternative wording, graphics or people pictures that are more culturally sensitive for distribution to specific regions or countries. The training manager can recommend these training leaders.  If you are offering training in multi-languages, these training leaders are critical for identifying good regional SME language and cultural translators.

A Product Engineer is mandatory if your training includes specifications, preventative maintenance, tear-down procedures and / or product replacement parts.  Based upon training requirements you might even want to consider and include a product engineer to serve as a SME.

Safety Officers – are a necessity if you are creating technical or job training that includes working at height, climbing, operating machinery, chemical usage, or other workplace safety issues.  They are experts on: personal protective equipment (PPE), safe operating procedures, federal regulations, OSHA, and company policies regarding safe product usage.

Chemistry Lab Technicians –  are helpful because they are on the front line completing real-life testing situations and can provide excellent content for graphics and videos. They may also have an informal lab safety manual for you to reference.

A Customer Service Manager is mandatory if training deals with people who support customers.  Take time to ask what are the best training formats for Customer Service representatives to use on the job. You will want to create training in the easiest formats for them to use as workplace references. Ask the manager if its possible to assign an experienced representative to serve as a contributor to share some “real life case scenarios” to make the training relevant.

An Outside Expert such as a manufacturing representative can provide can provide: product specifications, product photos, preventative maintenance recommendations, tear-down procedures,  and / or replacement part numbers. Their product specifications add value in the training as well as great reference materials.

This tip is part of the eLearning Roadmap.com program.

eLearning Project Tip #9: How to Manage Three Common Problems

Managing an eLearning Project can just be overwhelming especially since it involves two key elements: people and technology. Here is how to address three common problems that project managers face on all eLearning projects. 

• Managing People Inside & Outside Your Department 
Solution: Each project is unique and therefore each leadership team will be configured differently.  The typical leadership team consists of you as the Project Manager, your supervisor and a Director or VP as your “Project Champion”.

Meet with your Supervisor weekly to discuss any potential project little snags or issues, so they do not grow from issues into problems. It is always better to seek advice BEFORE it becomes a real problem.  Don’t wait until the last minute and think it will go away, it won’t, even if it goes quiet it will come back to haunt you later.

Remember that what might seem to be a big issue for you, is not from your Supervisor or Champion’s level. Your issue might be resolved by a quick phone call or short email to another senior management colleague. Let your Supervisor or Champion handle issues “above your paygrade’’. Your main role, as project manager is to provide overall project leadership and work with the senior instructional designer so they can get the training developed.

• Choosing The Right Stakeholders 
Solution: Stakeholders is the term we use for the key people you will work with to provide the content and services to make the project happen. They may perform one or more services on the project. The moment you have gotten management project approval, is a good time to start stakeholder selection.

How many stakeholders should you include? As many as needed to ensure all project bases are covered in providing the right kind of content to ensure eLearning project success.  You just want the best people on the project to produce the best eLearning product.

• How to Lead People Who Develop Course Content
Solution: Whether internal or consultant content developers are utilized, they should take direction from the Sr. instructional designer. A typical eLearning project could make use of multiple content developers depending upon the timeline and specialized skills.

Content developers perform many roles. They create the PowerPoint (PPT) templates according to specifications, add bullet points, graphics, and speaker notes. Then also edit and add audio narration files and video segments to the PPT.  After final approval, the content developer compiles the PPT into a SCORM format Mp4 video format ready for uploading to the LMS server.

You need someone who is knowledgeable of all of these processes to accomplish these tasks with knowledge and confidence.  That is why it is important to tag-team with your instructional designer so they can handle the instructional side of eLearning development.

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

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

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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?

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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? 

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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

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

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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