Over the years I have been a part of some very large elearning implementations, at every point in the elearning life cycle. Admittedly, my favorite part of the process was when we started getting into build. It was always exciting to see my team’s storyboards come to life with the real product.
That said, the entire elearning design and development of a project has many parts (all important), but there is one area that, in my opinion, is far more important than the others.
If done correctly, it makes the entire development process easier. If done incorrectly (or if not adhered to), you will have a nightmare of a time during the project – guaranteed.
From the Very Start
The most important elearning project requirement happens at the very beginning (or at least it should). Unfortunately, I have seen some projects do it poorly, and it resulted in lost money and time.
Before you do anything with your elearning project – before the planning, designing, developing, testing, or anything else – you need to get written approval of the scope.
Without written sign-off on the scope of course development and delivery, your elearning project is doomed.
Sign-off is One Thing, Enforcement is Another
I can recall a project I was on where the scope was defined, but our team never stuck to it. To be fair, this was a project with a 10+ year history, and I joined for just a portion. However, the culture of scope creep was set (heck, I don’t even think anyone remember the original scope).
The result was long hours, and major scope creep. The client said “jump”, and we said, “how high?” Job aids were added daily, signed-off courses were changed constantly, and new visual standards were retroactively applied.
It was miserable.
Without question, defining the scope for your elearning project is the most important thing you will do – but not only that, you need to stick to the scope of the project.
It often starts out as something innocent, taking on some extra small items outside of scope. Before you know it though, you are revamping the curriculum, changing templates, and adding courses. Not only does this hurt your bottom-line, it hurts your ability to prove your value.
Instructional designers, elearning project managers, and the like are evaluated on their ability to meet deliverables that are outlined in, you guest it, the original scope.
Do your sanity a favor and ensure that the scope is locked-in, and never changed (unless of course the client agrees to pay for those extra changes).