Ten tips for introducing and leveraging e-learning in your organization

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By NEHRA, 05/10/2004

E-learning is an effective way to develop a company's workforce as well as attract and retain potential employees

The method of delivery ensures consistency across the company and ensures many more associates are trained in a cost effective manner

The design, development and implementation of E-learning is successful if it meets the goals of the organization and supports specific business objectives

Tips to design and deliver effective e-learning:

1. Know the business you are in

* how money is made
* what customers expect in terms of quality and service
* what the processes are
* where points of failure might be in those processes
* how human interaction impacts quality and service
* what the measures of success are.

2. Understand clients' needs

* meet with clients to understand their unique challenges
* learn what their specific business plans are
* learn the challenges they face in meeting those plans
* work with clients to identify existing associate skills
*discuss how skill requirements may be lacking or needing change
* ask questions around future changes in processes that will impact the workforce
* find out if new technology will be introduced, or if new products will be developed which will require different skills.

3. Develop a 'straw man' strategy

A strategy that reflect the business objectives and clients' needs can be build based on this information:
*how e-learning would help the organization meet its business objectives
iIs the company in a highly regulated industry where annual certification of training can be streamlined through e-learning? does the company have large numbers of seasonal associates that need to be trained more effectively and is e-learning a possible solution?
* is there a geographically dispersed workforce that could benefit from training any time, anywhere?
* are there critical skill gaps that need to be closed in order to meet productivity, quality or customer satisfaction requirements?
* does the organization have a need for just-in-time information bites on key customers that could be provided to associates via an e-learning approach?

3. Develop a 'straw man' strategy (2)

Next, develop a business case including:
* a rationale of how e-learning is a strategic fit for the organization
* what the expected improvements in productivity, quality and customer satisfaction will be
*how organizational knowledge will increase; and
* how e-learning can reduce associates time to proficiency when learning new skills.

4. Gain agreement on the strategy

Revisit key stakeholders to go over the proposed business case and strategy.
Use a well-written interview tool to ensure consistency in the types of questions asked and to further support the business case
Find out if the strategy meets the stakeholder's business needs
Verify if the stakeholders can support the strategy. (vital information when securing funding for the project)
Make necessary changes and/or adjustments to the strategy, as business needs dictate
Ensure key stakeholders understand how this new technology will be used and deployed

5. Assess vendors against the strategy

Investigate which vendors will best support the e-learning strategy:
*Will off the shelf courses meet the current needs?
*Which vendors will meet longer-term needs?
* Will there be a need for custom designed courses and if so, will they be developed in-house or by a vendor?
* Which vendors match the technology of the company?
* Will courses be accessed via the Internet or Intranet or both?
* How will data on associate skill levels and participation in programs be gathered?
* Will a Learning Management System (LMS) be used now or in the future?
* What funding will likely be available for the project?

Questions should be developed and an assessment tool designed that will be used to evaluate each vendor against specific requirements.

6. Select vendors, products and services

*A team of stakeholders ( key business people, finance, technology and human resources) should participate in the selection process to assess products to business requirements, prices to budget expectations, and technology matches to existing infrastructure
*The long-term as well as the short-term requirements should be considered

7. Market internally

*Managers and their associates should be fully educated about e-learning
It is important they understand the opportunities e-learning will provide and that is not completely replacing other types of learning, but is a supplement to more traditional approaches. Managers need help in understanding how e-learning will help business units be more successful.
* Some ideas for a communication plan might include:
** brown bag lunches to introduce what is available
** attendance at manager staff meetings
** flyers and e-blasts that serve as teasers before a launch
** an e-learning launch day
** learning expos that highlight all learning opportunities in the organization including e-learning.

8. Create an implementation plan

* A carefully designed and planned implementation is critical to a successful launch of e-learning.
* A detailed project plan should include timelines and clarity around roles and responsibilities.
* Each member of the implementation team should outline detailed tasks and time frames for deliverables.
* Key milestones should be indicated on the plan. Milestones can be points at which celebrations and communications are linked.
* After the completion of each milestone, post mortem reviews should be completed to ensure necessary changes or adjustments are made in the project plan.
* At each stage of the project, risks should be identified and communicated to key stakeholders.
* Mitigation plans should be developed for risks where necessary
*Communications and marketing should be an integral part of each phase of the project.

9. Provide positive feedback

* As the project progresses,successes should be highlighted to the organization.
* Pilot groups that test products and provide positive feedback can offer testimony to the benefits of e-learning.
* Using positive feedback early in the project rollout helps build excitement around e-learning and gets people interested in participating
*Use internal client groups that have a desire to get on board with e-learning to bring other, more reluctant groups along.

10. Follow up & communicate constantly

Ongoing communication about measurable improvements has to be the norm on regular basis to all stakeholders

*Link between improvements in customer satisfaction measures, productivity, quality, cost reduction, and reduction in skill gaps should be highlighted

* Metrics can also identify where improvements or changes should be made in program offerings.
* How many associates are participating in each program?
* Are the courses targeting the right audience?
* What are the test scores for learning?
* Do the scores reflect a need for other courses?
* When taking a course, are there technology problems that should be addressed?
* Do courses need more advertising?
* Are enough people aware of the resources available?
* Are managers supporting e-learning and allowing associates time to learn?

Building and introducing e-learning is only part of the process. Regular assessments, revisions, content adjustments and review are all key components of leveraging e-learning in your organization.

Conclusion

Launching e-learning can be both exciting and overwhelming. By following these tips, an organization will build a strategy
that is most effective in driving improved performance that has a positive impact on business results.

Reference

Moynihan, C. (2004, May 10). Ten tips for introducing and leveraging e-learning in your organization. In Northeast Human Resources Association. Retrieved March 4, 2012, from http://www.boston.com/jobs/nehra/051004.shtml

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