What Happened Next? Implementing an E-Learning Solution. By Sarah Fletcher

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Technical trainer Stephen Picton explains what happened next after asking TrainingZONE’s Any Answers board for tips on implementing an e-learning project – how did he research and launch it? By Sarah Fletcher

Has anyone recently implemented an e-learning solution?
I am currently heading up a project to implement e-learning in my organisation. I have conducted a feasibility study using questionnaires and have exhaustively researched the marketplace. We already utilise a new system that has 80 per cent LMS (Learning Management Systems) functionality, therefore a cut down LMS is an option. We have over 1,000 potential users and I have recently discovered that our IT infrastructure is at capacity and will need an upgrade in order to host an effective e-learning solution.

Does anyone have recent experience of implementing an e-learning solution in a similar sized organisation? If so, what should I consider in terms of potential bandwidth, server space etc What are the likely costs of such upgrades?

Stephen Picton
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  • What has happened since you posted on any answers? Was your project successful? What were its strengths and weaknesses?
    Since my original post I have conducted a feasibility study across the business. This study consisted of three questionnaires each with a unique set of questions aimed at different audiences - directors and department heads, line managers and training managers. The results were collated and published and they also in turn drove the content of the Project Implementation Document which formed the starting point of the project.

    I have spoken to more than twenty five different e-learning providers in the past six months, and through my research and from the results of the feasibility study have been able to narrow the field down to around six providers that may be able to suitably match our business requirements.

    We have now assembled a project team and had our first full project meeting to define responsibilities and goals of the project. We are currently writing our Business Requirements Definition which will be submitted to shortlisted providers for them to base a proposed solution on, which we aim to have completed by July.

    The one area that I would highlight as a potential stumbling block is the uncanny ability of 'Business As Usual' to pop into your schedule and knock your project deadlines all into disarray. I frequently found that due to ever changing business demands I had to constantly set the e-learning project aside in order to work on a more pressing business need.

  • How did employees and managers react?
    All staff that have had any involvement with e-learning so far have been extremely positive. Indeed, the fact that the feasibility study showed an enthusiasm and awareness of a need for e-learning went a long way to ensuring the successful launch of the project as a fully fledged, company strategy.
  • What would you have done differently with hindsight?
    I would have factored more blocks of dedicated time to the project instead of having it constantly running in the background being worked on when I had available time. Apart from that I am happy with the way things have gone. By committing so much of my initial focus to investigation - reading CIPD papers, case studies, posing questions on Training Zone etc, we avoided many of the potential pitfalls that can occur when rushing into a project of this magnitude. My only wish is that we had made these moves towards e-learning years earlier!
  • What did you learn from the experience, and what advice would you give to someone else trying to implement a similar workshop?
    I have learned a lot about laying a good foundation for large projects. By conducting an extensive feasibility study across the business, researching white papers, other peoples' experiences and talking to lots of providers, you can go a long way to familiarise yourself with the marketplace, what has been proven to work well and how it all fits with what your business actually requires.

    If I could give one piece of advice it would be to form a solid foundation of research, both internally within your business and externally in the marketplace. Know and understand what your business needs and investigate every potential way to provide the solution.

  • Any other learning points?
    Never expect questionnaire result trends to reflect what you personally think they should look like.
  • Advice offered by members:

    • Howard Jones says be sure that e-learning is what you really need
    • Paul Allman says infrastructure is crucial./li>

    Other articles in the What Happened Next series

    Related Any Answers posts:

    Anything to add? Please post your comments below.

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