By Diane Elkins, Owner, Artisan E-Learning
When you are working on an e-learning course development project, you typically have more stakeholders than you would for a traditional classroom-based course. Why? Because there are often more moving parts. You might need someone from IT to help get the course working on the LMS, someone from legal to look at how quizzing is handled, or someone from HR to determine how to best deal with accessibility needs. So who wants even more stakeholders?!? Don’t you already have enough cats to herd!?
The reality is that it is generally best to go out and actively look for more stakeholders. Here’s why. If there’s someone or some group out there who feels they should have a say in how your e-learning course is done, they…will…find…you. And Murphy’s Law says they’ll find you right before you go live.
The farther into course development you get, the harder it is to make changes. (Think about it: a new sentence in a storyboard might be a 1-minute fix, but that same change could take 15 or 20 minutes once the audio is recorded and all the animations are synchronized to it.) This means that if someone feels they should have a say in your project, you want to find them as early as possible. That means going out and looking for them.
Many years ago, I was working on an e-learning course for a first-time client, and the whole process was going very well. Our client was happy with the course, and we were just a week or two from finishing. Then we find out that their marketing department had stumbled upon a draft of the course and had issues with the colors we were using. It was the wrong shade of navy blue! We ended up having to make some design changes, and it delayed our project by a few days while it was all worked out. If we had talked to them up front, it would have been a much easier fix. (Only made that mistake once!)
So while I may not want more cooks in the kitchen, it’s not always up to me. There are groups out there who have a legitimate claim on some aspect of your course, so find them early.
What about those whose claim isn’t legitimate and those who say they want to participate but then miss review deadlines? Time to polish your negotiating skills. Determine as a team who is providing input versus who is making decisions. And determine whose input is required (you’ll hold up the project if you don’t get it) and whose input is optional (you’ll move forward if you don’t get it.)
Stakeholders can provide valuable insight from different perspectives, making your course stronger…as long as you manage them well.
Diane Elkins is the co-founder of Artisan E-Learning, a custom e-learning development firm specializing in Captivate, Lectora, Articulate Studio, and Storyline. She has built a national reputation as an expert in graphic design and e-learning, speaking at conferences such as ATD TechKnowledge and Learning Solutions. She is also co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.
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