E-learning development projects sometimes execute smoothly but at other times become so complex that it gets stuck midway. Even though detailed planning and standard project management processes are used, there are chances that we may not be successful with the project.
Reasons for failure can be many; based on my experience in project management I found that the major task in project development is to get the customer and e-learning requirements/expectation right even at the start of the project. We should not proceed with the development of the course until we are clear with the client expectations and get a sign-off on requirements. We need to spend considerable time in meetings with the customer to understand the client requirements.
In reality, however, complete requirements may not be shared in a kick-off meeting or defined in the initial project scope document. The best way to get the clear understanding on customer expectation is by developing a “Prototype”.
A prototype is an early sample, or model, release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. [Wikipedia]
Prototype development may look like additional time and effort in the process of course development, but it actually reduces the overall development time and effort. I share here some of the advantages of developing a prototype as per my project management experience.
- It helps you understand customer expectations on the outcome. The scope document or kick-off meeting may help you in getting the overview of the requirements. Still there are chances that the expectations of the customer and your assumptions may not match.
- The customer may expect very simple graphical user interface according to training concept, but you may provide a complicated design on the interface as per the modern design. This type of confusion may not get resolved through a single call or emails. A prototype will help both parties to be on the same level of understanding.
- Prototype helps you prepare or update a detailed checklist once you get the approval on the prototype. At the time of prototype development, you will clearly understand specific customer expectations and features of the course.
- Do not start the actual course development until you receive the final approval on the prototype because if something has to be changed later, then it will have a bearing on the entire course. These changes may result in much rework, and there are chances of introducing new errors because of tweaking the course.
- Once you are clear with the client expectations using the prototype, chances are more that your project executes smoothly and proceeds per the project plan. It will be difficult to manage the project if there are any unexpected changes requested at the time of development. So a prototype helps you in overall project success.
- A prototype helps instructional and visual designers to prepare the storyboard according to customer expectations.
- A prototype clears the confusion between the customer and the development team. Prototype and checklist will help developers in flawlessly developing the course and do the quality checks at the time of development.
- A prototype reduces the development time and effort, as there may not be any need to rework because everyone knows what the client expectations are. A prototype helps you to scale up the course development and complete it as per the planned schedule.
Hope this information helps you in executing e-learning projects successfully. Develop a prototype for your e-learning course and experience the difference.