How to Set a Realistic Timeline for Employee Development Strategy
You cannot foresee unexpected delays or collaborative obstacles. For example, you are using new software to create interactive content and the user interface is more difficult than expected. It’s even harder to predict these scheduling errors when it comes to outsourcing. Since, in many cases, the custom content provider is responsible for their team’s productivity, workflow, and task delegation. They are in the driver’s seat when it comes to end results. However, there are some ways to mitigate these risks and create a more accurate timeline for custom eLearning design processes. Spoiler alert: commentary, frequent recap meetings, and flexible milestones are part of the package. And, of course, you need to find a custom learning solution provider that puts CX first.
1. Assign internal tasks
The first step is to determine what you will do internally so that you don’t outsource redundant content. This helps you identify aspects of the custom eLearning design timeline that depend on internal projects. For example, the bespoke online training provider can’t convert your old content until your team completes an asset inventory. So figure out how long it will take them to complete the tasks and what resources they need to speed up the process.
2. Get feedback from your team
Your team’s feedback is essential as it can reveal potential risks and delays. For example, you think they only need a day to catalog and organize the aforementioned resources. In reality, they need a week to get everything in shape for the outsourcing company. To take stock of training assets, reevaluate tags, and split longer assets into usable assets. Organize an internal team meeting to get their feedback and incorporate it into your development schedule.
3. Meet with supplier to discuss milestones
Once you’ve taken care of the internal schedules, it’s time to speak with the vendor to discuss project milestones. Like the milestones that are usually part of their custom eLearning design processes. For example, the first step is to conduct a brief training needs analysis. How long will it take? What are the steps involved? Are there obstacles that might force them to rethink the schedule? Keep in mind that experienced custom content developers have a rough idea of implementation hurdles and time estimates. Thus, you can count on their expertise to readjust your schedule and your delivery expectations. For example, you only allocated a few days to produce a demo video. But the supplier needs at least two weeks to record the footage, gather the resources and edit the video. They know all the “moving parts” involved in the process.
4. Storyboard your development process
Storyboards aren’t just for the design process itself. You can also use them as a visual overview of your custom content development schedule. Divide the board into tasks, milestones, or project stages. Then include brief notes about the software, the team members, and the individual tasks involved. There should also be placeholders for outsourcing tasks and/or notes that vendors can use to streamline the process. It also gives you the ability to anticipate development issues that could derail the project. For example, the fifth step involves new software which can lead to a steep learning curve. So leave some time in the storyboard/timeline to take that into account.
5. Expect the unexpected
The reason many organizations are forced to push back their launch dates is optimism. I’m not talking about a positive outlook on life but about an overambitious schedule. They don’t think their team will encounter any problems along the way. After all, they are too experienced and skilled to let a minor problem stand in their way. However, the problems come in many forms. You should expect the unexpected when you set a realistic timeline by creating a backup plan. What are all the potential obstacles? What’s the best way to overcome them without going over budget? Is there anything you can do now to avoid workflow interruptions? For example, buy software today so your team has plenty of time to acclimate and explore new features.
6. Have Periodic Introductory Meetings
This applies to both internal and outsourced projects. You should have periodic meetings to review progress and make sure everyone is on schedule. They can also express their concerns or opinions regarding the schedule. For example, the outsourcing partner miscalculated the time it would take to develop the simulation. It’s an essential part of your new eLearning course, and they need an extra week to iron out any issues. Both of you can discuss a new time slot, delivery dates, etc., at regularly scheduled wrap-up meetings.
7. Include a detailed schedule in the contract
This pre-project meeting with the supplier allows you to develop schedule estimates. But you also need to put everything in writing before you sign on the dotted line. Include a detailed schedule in your contract to avoid confusion later. What is the final delivery date? What about milestones and corresponding payouts? Does the supplier have to notify you if they encounter an obstacle? For example, they should contact you a week in advance if they need to adjust the Phase 2 delivery date. What is their point of contact within your organization? These are all issues you need to address in the agreement.
Custom eLearning design processes can be stressful without careful planning and task delegation. Everyone must understand their roles, expectations and time constraints to avoid project delays, especially when their assignments are just one piece of the bespoke puzzle.
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