Last week I attended my cousin’s wedding. Nobody had an idea of what was going on and what others were doing. Several people ended up doing the same things and a few tasks were left untouched till the last minute. There was nobody responsible for the allocation and supervision of tasks. The scene was a total disaster. Ultimately, the wedding was a success but it gave everyone involved a lot of heartburn and I’m sure the nightmares will continue for quite some time.
That scene reminded me of a typical eLearning project. At the start, we are all exicted about starting the project and getting it done. But as time passes on, we lose track of the timelines, individual responsibilities, accountability and other important matters. What ensues is chaos and though we manage to pull off the project, it will leave us with bittersweet memories.
So how do we deal with this confusion? In both situations, the most effective way to avoid all the confusion and rework would have been having a meeting. All the stakehodlers gathering together to discuss the tasks to be done, their priorities, the people responsiblie for vetting the tasks, the timelines for each task, would have helped immensely and provided the groups a sense of accountability.
In the context of eLearning courses, this meeting is what is often the ‘kick-off’ meeting. This meeting is held before any work on the project commences and is used to provide a common platform to the interested parties to discuss and agree on all key issues.
The meeting involves individuals from both parties – the client and the eLearing vendor. They can include:
- The project stakeholder
- The Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
- The Project Manager
- Team Leads (instructional design, development, quality, etc.)
- This meeting helps the development ask pertinent questions such as:
- The target audience and duration of the course
- The expected learning outcomes
- The list of deliverables
- The delivery platforms
- The SMEs responsible for validating the course and their availability
- The timelines and budget constraints
It will help the development team estimate and schedule the development cost and effort. They can thereby allocate the:
- Required number of individuals for each team
- Timelines and resources
Since everyone has an idea of what is expected and when, the entire process proceeds smoothly and becomes a collaboartive effort.
To this end, it is very important to consolidate all the issues discussed in the meeting in a ‘Minutes of the Meeting’ (MoM) and distribute it everyone involved so that all aware and have documented proof of the agreed issues and their specific responsibilities.
So, the next time you get a new project, have a kick-off meeting and have a great start and a smooth, successful journey.