Project Management: Implementing a new authoring tool

        In late 2018, my organization decided to create Learning Management System (LMS)-compatible versions of its published training materials for upload and use by subscription members.  In order to create content that could easily be uploaded into most LMS, we needed to purchase an authoring tool that could publish in the four most common formats – AICC, xAPI, SCORM 2004, SCORM 1.2.  Traditionally, our training decks were published in Microsoft PowerPoint and were designed to be instructor-led, so this was a departure in both format and design. 

        The Learning Solutions team was tasked by the AVP to oversee implementation of the authoring tool and manage ongoing operations related to the LMS downloads.  Given the necessity for Research subject matter expert(s) to consult on training material conversions, the team communicated its intent and high-level goals early on with this key stakeholder group.  Other stakeholders were informed of the project later on, according to the communication plan. 

The Project Plan

        Our internal project planning approach requires that a project plan is constructed for all projects, with the complexity of the plan mirroring project scope.  In this case, an internal Project Specialist was tasked with creating a project plan with input from the project team.  The plan was based on a pared-down version of the Project Management Institute (PMI) framework and included a team charter, an accountability matrix, stakeholder information and analyses, and a detailed task list with assignments.  In addition, a communication plan was created by the project lead that included targeted messages for all internal stakeholders, along with the timing of those communications.

        On the whole, the plan was a success: the project was completed on time and on budget. However, just prior to the launch of the LMS Downloads product, we encountered a challenge: the salespeople were struggling to understand and communicate the features and benefits of the new product to prospects and members, despite having witnessed a demonstration and participated in an interactive presentation.  As a result, we decided to create robust Sales support collateral for both internal education purposes and for use by external members.  In retrospect, the need for sales collateral of this kind was foreseeable and was a gap in our planning.  As a result, we have added this to our list of considerations for small projects going forward.

Going Forward

        The Project Management Institute’s framework is a robust one that is well suited to large, complex projects and will continue to be our go-to approach for the foreseeable future.  The pared-down version of PMIs framework that we use for small projects is also suiting our purposes well as most of our projects have a quick turnaround time, meaning environmental changes have less chance of dramatically affecting our plans.  However, despite our fondness for PMI, we will continue to watch for emerging models that can better help organizations navigate projects in a high change environment.


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