Beyond teaching Design and Implementation of Enterprise Systems at both undergrad and post-grad levels, I’ve been blessed with a wide range of opportunities for supervising, participating and/or direct the implemention of different Information Systems, including e-Learning platforms (LMS). Here, I would just like to share some ideas and tips through 4 phases: discovery, planning, implementation and deployment which will lead you to a successful LMS Implementation Project Plan for your company.
The discovery (inception) phase of an LMS project is the phase to give you the chance to gather, understand, and analyze solid facts about the organization, including its structure, its learning needs from business needs and its technology that are essential to a successful LMS project. Without it, an LMS runs a high risk of missing the mark. To prepare it, there are some basic considerations to keep in mind:
- Tie your learning management goals, strategy, and activities to the business goals of your organization.
- Find out your audience willingness to use different ways in regards to their personal development.
- Analyze the existing training materials within the organization and find out those that have potential values to be hosted in the LMS.
- Consider the readiness of technical infrastructure to support user access.
- List and analyze business cases to find out all essential and nice to have functions from different business units.
- Consider future integration with other systems to avoid disconnected data to ensure the data in the LMS can contribute to your ultimate talent analytics.
Once the expectation, goals, and benefits of the LMS project are clearly listed out and understood by the stakeholders, it’s time to plan out the project. In this phase, my advice is twofold:
- Use the feature list created from the business case analysis in the discovery phase to select a vendor with a team consisting of executive sponsors, L&D subject experts, potential LMS users, department managers, and technology staff. This team will also be the major contributor to the project implementation later.
- While reviewing the contracts, it’s better to work with your legal team together to ensure all the deliverables and relevant costs are clearly listed.
- Request the vendor to send you the project plan which lists most of the major tasks included in the project for both sides. Besides that, some other Project Management documents from the vendor side, like the communication plan, change management plan, user acceptance test scripts, and support process introduction etc., will help you plan your project better.
Prepare Your Own Resources
- Use external project plan to compare your internal one and make sure the adjusted plan will fit both sides. Have all resources ready in time accordingly.
- Consider that most of the administration, data entry, data usage and back office functions will be run by the L&D team. Break the existing staff down into functional areas, and use that to prepare your new team for the LMS.
- Besides that, don’t forget you may consider outsourcing the digital learning content design part. Allocate time and resources out for that part, if necessary, to fit your portfolio plan.
As long as you finish the discovery and planning phases well enough, the implementation phase turns to be much easier. However, the two things in this phase, I would like to emphasize are: communication and user acceptance test (UAT).
- Follow the communication plan as agreed at the beginning of the project. Ask for consistent progress reports from both external and internal Project Managers and stay in constant communications with the vendor’s team to ensure nothing important is missed. A scheduled regular “check in”meeting is recommended.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions related to your daily user scenarios and ensure that your vendor’s implementation team is fully aware of all your requirements in the original scope.
User Acceptance Test
- Do unit tests to verify all prototypes built, based on specifications that are meeting your expectations in time, which will sharply decrease the chance of having big surprises at the end of the project.
- Don’t just follow the test scripts provided by the vendor. Take the time to develop and customize your own version with real business scenarios.
It’s great to have the LMS up and running, but a lack of users and enthusiasm could spell disaster for the LMS and training initiative.
Market The LMS
- You have to market the LMS as your organization markets its products and services to make sure the users are aware of how the LMS can benefit them.
- To deliver useful training instead of overwhelming the audience with those nice to have functions. For that, you can always find some ideas from the original UAT log, which normally includes most common questions. And make sure the training materials are easily accessible and relevant to the population.
Last but not least, remember that practice makes perfect. As you roll out your new LMS, you should plan on having a bit of a learning curve. There’s always a chance to make the LMS better after hearing more feedback from the end user. Don’t try to make it perfect beforehand.