Even though eLearning is not a new approach to sharing knowledge and developing skills and competencies within organizations it is far too often misunderstood, not given enough credit or simply fails to get buy-in even when the need is clearly there.
One of the main reasons for the lack of success or for not being successful enough is dealing with the requirements of different groups within your company. And that’s before you even start planning and developing individual courses and learning materials.
Collecting and structuring the requirements of all parties involved in the company and then formulating a clear eLearning strategy is no small feat, as you have to deal with many levels, manage expectations and ultimately (attempt to) make everyone happy. Therefore, before you start planning on individual courses you need to clearly define the purpose of your efforts i.e. formulate a comprehensive strategy.
To manage expectations and deliver according to them it is important to answer a few key questions. These will help you define your requirements more clearly and overcome the challenges of dealing with many different groups of stakeholders.
What do you want to achieve?
a) Short-term goals
- As with most projects, it is important to have clearly specified the scope and goals for your eLearning initiative. The main questions you need to ask here:
- what is your organization expecting to achieve through eLearning?
- how will this help towards an overall business goal/s?
- Is eLearning part of a bigger initiative to introduce new ways of working or a new set of services/products for which skills and knowledge need to be developed?
- What is the time frame within which you are expected to deliver results?
Bear in mind that you need to address both short-term goals (related to specific content to be developed) as well as long-term objectives, and introduce ways in which you can measure the results. Most courses or learning materials will address specific skills that need to be developed in relation to employees’ current roles or responsibilities.
b) Long-term goals
On the other hand, you should also define what are the long-term organizational needs that might extend beyond the role-specific requirements. Here are just a few examples of goals that go beyond the scope of specific learning materials and courses:
- Reducing the overall cost and time required for training
- Making training more mobile and accessible
- Ensuring that training is easier to update, reuse and repurpose.
Who are you addressing?
Understanding the overall objectives is important, but you should not forget that the content will be developed for real people within your organization. Therefore it’s vital to define who your learners are: their needs, expectations, the level of technical literacy and flexibility in terms of available time to learn and access to your eLearning platform. The more you know about your audience, the better you can tailor the content and customize the platform through which it is delivered. For example, if you know the majority of your learners will be accessing content on the go and their internet connection might not always be fast enough, the delivered training material should be responsive and lightweight so that it gets rendered correctly and it doesn’t slow down user devices.
What are the risks and limitations?
One of the biggest challenges to defining your requirements is to determine who the key stakeholders within your organization are. Far too often they are many and dispersed within different parts of the company. Sometimes, they might not even be aware that they have a key role to play until you or somebody else approaches them. Before getting their buy-in or even approaching them in order to define their individual requirements, it could be a good idea to make your own risk assessment and prioritize the importance of each key stakeholder for your project. Then, once you start gathering and structuring the eLearning requirements, you will have a clearer view of what could be the barriers and drivers that you’ll encounter along the way, and how critical each one of them is for your project.
What’s your Action plan?
There are three main areas that you need to address when you plan your eLearning strategy on an operational level:
- Access - how will your learners access the content? Would it be through an LMS, a company intranet, a dedicated site or app, or any other channel?
- Marketing - how will you promote the content internally? Your ultimate goal is to engage your audience, so your strategy should clearly define how you plan to do that. This includes marketing individual courses and programs as well as the overall eLearning initiative within your organization. Define who your champions will be within different departments and at different levels and engage them early on in the process. It is also important to determine what are the other key initiatives within your company that you can tag onto that will help you succeed in your eLearning efforts.
- Measuring - having clearly defined goals and objectives is one side of the coin. But in order to be successful and adapt to change, it is equally important to be able to measure your progress. Hence, you will have to define your KPIs and how you’ll measure them. These may include learner performance and engagement, ROI and the overall cost of the eLearning trainings to mention but a few. It is vital to involve management in the process as early on as possible, so you can determine which KPIs need to be measured and how to do it so you assess the success of your eLearning initiative.
Each organization will have specific needs and goals, but this list is a good starting point which you could tailor to your specific case in order to implement a successful eLearning program. We’d love to hear from you about the specific challenges you have encountered, and how you managed to overcome them in your company.