According to the Project Management Institute, 75% of projects annually come in over budget or run past deadlines, adding up to a loss of over $75 billion. Elearning projects are at a high risk for delays and cost overruns because they are complex to manage. Elearning projects are actually two projects: a software project combined with a training project. This means greater scope, more stakeholders, increased risk, and significant opportunities for communication to fail.
For Elearning projects to succeed, the managers and crucial stakeholders must understand and use the critical tools of project management. What are the critical tools for a project manager? Gantt charts, PERT diagrams, Microsoft Project? No, these are important tools (heck, we teach lots of Microsoft Project classes). The critical tools for a project manager are communication tools — face to face meetings, phone calls, and emails.
For a project to succeed, stakeholders have to agree on:
- Definition of project success – the project charter
- Project specifications – scope
- How much the project will cost – budget
Getting stakeholders to agree requires a great deal of organized communication. Project implementation requires clear communication of charter, specifications, and budget to the project delivery team. Project success requires agreement, understanding and collaboration among members of the project team. Standard tools exist to help you organize and plan communication including:
- Project Charter: Identifies business purpose, goals and stakeholders of a project. Defines project scope and success.
- Project Timeline: Identifies what tasks have to be completed, in what time frame and by what resource.
- Project Budget: Identifies cost of the project. Usually broken down by line items
- Communication Plan: Describes strategy for keeping the project’s stakeholders sufficiently informed to avoid any disappointment regarding cost, schedule, or quality goals.
- Change Request Document: The change request document should be used to document any changes to agreements made during the course of a project, especially those that affect schedule, quality, and cost.
I will grant you that the project manager needs to understand tools like Gantt charts, Critical Path, PERT charts, and budgets to insure transparency and accurate communication between stakeholders. However, the heart of project success is agreement and understanding between stakeholders driven by communication and collaboration.