eLearning Project Management Tip #10: Contributors and Their Role

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 Manaqgement Academy ( eMA) Bootcamp program.  If you found this tip useful, learn more and view an SME onboarding video (no signup) at: www.eMAbootcamp.com

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

eLearning Project Tip #9: How to Manage Three Common People-Related 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 free SME onboarding video (no signup) at: www.eMAbootcamp.com

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

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 free SME onboarding video (no signup) at: www.eMAbootcamp.com

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:
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  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