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Scott Hewitt

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How to manage your elearning project


You've selected your supplier, you've got the budget approved and you are ready to start the project. Whether you are an elearning professional or starting out on your first project here are some tips that will help you as you develop your project.

1. Do you really need that massive Gantt Chart?
I've worked on projects where we've been asked to produce an extensive Gantt Chart in the first week of development. Over the next few weeks most of the dates have changed and we've spent hours amending the Gantt chart and most of the project team are so busy they don't have time to read it!

You will want a project plan but develop something that is manageable throughout the duration of the project. You want something that you can all use and can understand.

Have a look at applications like Basecamp and Minigroups. They are brilliant online project management tools. They use stripped down project management scheduling tools, send out notifications via email, store files, use secure back up and you can back up all of your files and messages at the end of the project.

2. Collate your reviews
During the development process you will have comments that you want to send to your supplier. Try to collate them into a form or a document - if you email them over when you find them it is difficult to track all the requests.

You can use a change or bug list, excel is great for this. Give each change a unique identifier so that you can track the request.  It is also important that you manage the review process to avoid endless changes.

3. Use version numbers and cover sheets with your documents
Projects can create a lot of documents. There are also lots of people using them, emailing them and storing them. Your project might involve multiple companies.

It is very easy to lose track of documents. This can cause issues if the wrong document is used and you can waste a lot of time and money.

I suggest that you use version numbers and cover sheets. You might already have a document standard but my experience is that most companies don't and by the idea of a project a file might end up looking something like this.

elearning project script draft master copy (1).doc

We use a really simple version system that I'm going to share with you.

elearning project script v1.0.doc

When we make a change we update the number. We have a cover sheet on every document and we update this at the same time. Keep track
of all your project documents and it's easy.

4. Complete an Learning Management System test at the start of the project
If you are using an Learning Management System (LMS) ask your supplier to provide a sample SCORM module as soon possible so that you can test your LMS with their content.

This is a good way to identify any possible LMS issues at any early stage. You will still need to carry out your final testing but this might save you some time.

5. Agree who is responsible for sign off
At the start of the project I suggest that you agree who is responsible for the project sign off. Have a sign off form that you can use to sign off each stage of the project.

You might have people responsible for signing off for graphics and technical - make sure you know who they are and get them involved early in the process. I've been involved in projects where the course was ready for deployment and then someone has requested a brand or technical change. This has been because they weren’t involved in the project sign off process.

Avoid having too many people involved as this can cause delays - but make sure the key people are involved.

I also like to agree a turn-around with each of the sign-off partners. You don't want to be waiting for weeks/months for sign off as this will affect the delivery of your project.

6. Ask for highlight reports
A highlight report documents high-level progress on your project.

They are typically one or two sides of A4 and cover work completed, next tasks to be completed and any project risks.

They might be sent every two weeks but you can agree the frequency with your supplier. Highlight report are a great way of monitoring your project and you can share them with your internal stakeholders and your project team.

7. Be part of the project team!
I always explain to our customers that they are part of our team! Ask questions, share information and provide feedback to the developers.

Don't forget to share any important dates that affect the project. Think about any holiday or business critical dates. I've worked on projects where we've set up a deployment and the client project manager had gone on holiday (we didn’t know!) and we've had to put everything on hold!

Last minute work requirements and holiday are expected but where possible try and work with the project team to share key dates.

8. Check that your company guidelines haven't changed
It might have been a few months since you submitted your tender or specification so ask if the brand and technical guidelines have changed.

Technical guidelines can quickly change and this can easily affect the delivery of your project, you might also want to ask if there are any planned changes during the duration of your project.

9. Ensure that you have a specification
It is a really good idea to make sure that you have a specification agreed with your developer before you start work. You might have agreed the main details during the tender and proposal but just review this before you start work.

I’d include technical, learning and design requirements of the project. It would also have an outline of how the course would work and function. For example: If you want your course to work on mobile devices then make sure it is in the specification – you might have missed this in your tender.

10. Include your learners in the project team
Learners are your customers.

I like to include learners in the project team to get their feedback on the project. Can you set up a learner group who can provide feedback on designs and prototypes? Learners can also provide insight into any existing courses and what has been successful. They can also help with testing and often come up with great ideas during the development phase. A learner group can also help with the roll-out of the course, they can help other learners and offer support about the course.

Running and managing elearning projects can take time effort. You will need to manage multiple stakeholders within your business and you will be working with the supplier.

Do you have any top tips for managing your elearning project? Have you been a client during an elearning project? What is your top tip? Have you been involved in successful projects?

What did you do that made your elearning project a success?


One Response

  1. How to manage your elearning project

    This is a very useful resource. It comes from real experience and not the theory of project management.

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Scott Hewitt

founder - real projects

Read more from Scott Hewitt

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