With all relationships, how you start out can have a big influence on where you end up. That “first impressions count” saying is as true when starting an eLearning content development project as it is elsewhere in life.
Whether you’re creating eLearning for your own company, or an external organisation, successful eLearning projects rely on close working teams who encourage each other creatively and support each other through project challenges. These teams thrive in the trusting and pragmatic relationships that develop from a well structured and executed project start up.
So how do we ensure we get the perfect start?
The project will most likely have gone through an earlier stage when a learning requirement was identified, a solution proposed and a budget agreed. During this period, a range of assumptions will have been made relating to the source content, audience, technologies involved, times scales and so on.
It’s important to do a sanity check on these assumptions with the project’s stakeholders and confirm they are still valid. Aspects may have been misunderstood, or the requirements may have changed over time. Are all the stakeholders happy with the solution, are they into the detail of the content, has the branding changed and so on?
Get the right people together
The project kick off meeting is an essential part of starting a project. It’s likely the first time the project team will all meet and works best when all team members are present face-to-face.
It’s at this meeting that the key lines of communication will start to develop: between the Project managers who will control the day-to-day activity and between the Subject Matter Experts and the Learning Designer who will create strategy, structure and scripts.
Have a clear agenda
If you’re leading the meeting, it’s essential that you have an agenda that covers the key project information. A well-managed meeting with clear sense of purpose creates confidence in the project team and ensures that nothing gets missed.
The exact areas to cover may vary from project to project, but we always include: roles and responsibilities, a walk through of the eLearning development process, content scope, target audience, creative treatment, branding, technical requirements, availability and next steps. These core sections ensure the project team have what they need to set off in the right direction.
You may not get all the information you need in the first meeting but you should aim to finish with a clear plan for how you will capture the rest, whether it’s individual conversations with stakeholders or a follow up meeting. .
Let them know what you need from them (and when you need it)
Give your project the best chance of success by having the right people available at the right time. Project stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts will often have busy day jobs and limited time to devote to the project. It’s important to let them know when you’ll need them in advance so they can build it into their schedules.
Additionally, let them know what they’ll be reviewing at each point, what input they’re expected to give, how long it will take and most importantly when you need it by.
Creating great eLearning isn’t easy and not everyone involved will have done it before. If you make it your business to find out who in the team needs help early on, you can provide training or arrange cover for certain activities to make sure everything is in place for the perfect start.