Monday, March 15, 2010

Preparing for the e-Learning Consultant’s Arrival

It's Monday morning, and you're staring at the stack of candidate resumes you received from Escoe Bliss. You had no doubt they would find you e-learning consultants with the skills needed for your first e-learning project. Before you pick up the resume at the top of the stack, you're wondering: What will the consultant need to get the job done?

Every project is different, and it's important to have coffee, chocolate, and restroom facilities available. And, of course, you'll need to have the tools for developing and delivering the online courses, subjects I'll cover in future blog posts.

However, there are some things I've learned from experience that you can put in place for the consultant before she or he arrives at your site. In this blog post, I'm going to cover these topics:

  • Learning Organization Leaders
  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Executive ("C") Level Sponsors

Learning Organization Leaders

Partner closely with your organization's training department. These departments can fall under an alphabet soup of different names, but they carry the torch for all learning and workplace performance activities in your organization. Make sure you have a tenured staff person from your learning organization to serve as the "go-to" expert, or liaison, for the consultant. He or she will need an ally who can smooth out the bumps that come up during the project.

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

An e-learning consultant relies on SMEs like we rely on oxygen. From my experience, SMEs openly share their knowledge on the course topic. They're usually glad to be in the company of someone who cares about their expertise and wants to pick their brains for the details needed for specific learning objectives.

The reality is, especially over this last year-and-a-half, SMEs are now performing the work of two-to-three colleagues (who were laid off) and have multiple projects on their work plates. They're "slammed", short on time to get their job done, and still have a nice annual performance review with a variety of other objectives that they are focused on meeting. Therefore, it's important for you and the SME's manager to give the SME permission to spend time with the e-learning consultant. Add some type of reward and recognition, and your project will soar to success.

Executive ("C") Level Sponsor

A couple of times, I worked on some e-learning projects where the primary project sponsor was at the V.P. level. The V.P. attended most of our project team meetings, and was a signature to sign off on the course at every review cycle. We had clear communications with the V.P. When we were about to deploy the course, the team presented it online to the one who signed everyone's check, an E.V.P. over the V.P.'s area. The result was a somewhat major revision of the course that delayed deployment for about two weeks.

So, unless you are 100% certain of your C-level executive sponsor's role, bring her or him to the project table very early on to understand and manage expectations. On another project, we brought the E.V.P. in at our brainstorming stage (the high-level detail design document phase) and we received excellent feedback that framed the direction of our development, and also a hearty "well done" after deployment.

Finally, feel free to prepare in other ways. Find out if the consultant prefers coffee, tea, or water; likes or doesn't like dark chocolate; and make sure his or her computer systems are all set up and ready to go the morning of that first day. Finally, a warm and welcoming attitude will win you a dedicated colleague.

How Escoe Bliss Can Help You

With over 15 years of leadership in consulting and workforce learning and performance, the professionals at Escoe Bliss have a large database of local talent at their fingertips. They can quickly assess your needs for an e-learning consultant, and work within your organization's budget. They can find the talent who will help you bring your e-learning project to successful completion. Escoe Bliss prides itself on our active and hands-on facilitation throughout the life-cycle of your project. We pledge to follow-up with our clients and our consultants by making regular quality checks from the time your project rolls out, until the time your project wraps up.

Jenise Cook, M.A., is our featured guest blogger for 2010. Her posts will appear monthly on Blogging with Bliss. Her professionalism and passion for her work in documentation design, e-learning development, and media production radiate from her writing and we consider ourselves extremely fortunate to count her among our guest bloggers. This is the third blog in Jenise's series on e-learning. Jenise's blogs on Why Use an e-Learning Consultant? and What to Look for in an e-Learning Consultant are the first of her series.

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