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Loose in the China Shop

Rethinking the Business of Learning

Three Proven Fixes for the Top Cause of eLearning Trouble

Posted by Nathan Pienkowski, Ph.D. on March 6, 2015 at 12:51 PM

Last week we wrote about how getting multiple reviewers to agree on an eLearning deliverable is no easy task. In fact, the process of reviewing eLearning deliverables can be the most challenging part of overseeing an eLearning project. Not managing that process effectively is, hands down, the leading cause of project delays and scope issues.

54332862_thumbnailAs a project sponsor – the one tasked with making sure the project is completed and meets its objectives – your success depends on identifying and effectively managing risks like this one. Unfortunately, that’s not always easy or straightforward.

How can you avoid problems with deliverable reviews? The key is in recognizing the root causes that can lead to trouble later down the line. Here’s what those root causes might look like in real life:

Lesson #1: Don’t add members to the review committee late in the game.

Let’s say that midway through the development of your training program, a newly hired bigwig asks to be included on the project review committee. When it’s time for the group to look at the next deliverable, her feedback is major. She clearly has a different perspective on what the training should cover. In fact, her feedback is so major that your project has to move back to an earlier phase – which ultimately delays delivery of the emodule.

The fix: Identify your review committee before the project starts – and stick to it. Adding people after certain deliverables have been approved can cause havoc. If you must do it, be ready to accept any project impacts.

Lesson #2: Harmonize all feedback before it goes to the vendor.

We see this all the time: A project sponsor receives feedback from internal stakeholders and shuttles it over to the eLearning vendor without first taking a look at it – and the feedback turns out to be unclear, contrary to other stakeholders’ feedback, or focused on things that were approved at an earlier stage. Now the process takes longer, as the vendor untangles the feedback piece by piece, pulling in the project sponsor to provide clarity.

The fix: Gather all the feedback from reviewers, read it, decide whether any reviewers have provided conflicting feedback, determine how to resolve any of those conflicting pieces of feedback, and deliver a single set of feedback to the vendor. You can set this process up with your review committee as a “rule of engagement.”

Lesson #3: Limit the number of reviews for each deliverable.

It’s human nature: Give a person a document, and he or she will nearly always find a way to change it. Likewise, if you give an eLearning deliverable to an internal stakeholder, that person will almost certainly make changes to it. Even if he has seen the deliverable previously, he’ll continue to discover things he hadn’t notice before and make changes – and the project will slip farther and farther behind on its timeline. If you’ve ever circulated an eLearning transcript four or five times, you know the sort of pain we’re talking about.

The fix: This can be a tough rule to adopt, but it yields big benefits. If reviewers know they have limited chances to review something, it focuses their attention and increases engagement. Two is a good number of reviews, with the second review merely to confirm feedback was pulled through.

Most problems are avoidable

Review process challenges may be common, but they’re also avoidable. We hope you’ll benefit from the lessons we’ve learned through experience – either by making the mistakes ourselves or by watching others make them.

To read more about the common mistakes that plague elearning projects – and how to avoid them – download our white paper, “The Training Executive’s eLearning Playbook – Seven Mistakes That Lead to Project Failure.” 

Topics: eLearning, eLearning Mistakes, eLearning Challenges