What are the unexpected points of risk in the training development process?
When you’re managing a training team, it seems that any point in a process can present a risk. But the risks involved in these three areas are often under-appreciated.
Our instructional designers work with subject matter experts to develop storyboards; those storyboards are then handed off to course developers, who program the courses. We find that this transition point is a particularly troublesome area. What’s clear in the mind of the instructional designer—how they want the course to progress, the interactions to happen, the knowledge checks to function—doesn’t always make the leap to the course developer. If the hand-off isn’t done well, it can mean additional discussion, work, and rework.
We design many projects to meet criteria that will enable the course to be accessible to those with disabilities. But what does it mean to make something “accessible”? Does the course just need to be usable by those who have a disability? Or does it need to be usable and meet the criteria established by formal accessibility guidelines? (making things usable often doesn’t meet all the criteria, and vice versa.) If reviewers, designers, and developers aren’t aligned on what the review standards are at the beginning of the project, it can require additional time and effort to bring the course up to standards.
Speaking of beginning a project, when there’s a whole project ahead, there’s a tendency to let things happen in their own time. Maybe there’s one software license that still needs to be renewed. Perhaps testing devices are somewhere in the office, but not at the desk. There’s a balance between having things available when needed, and having them on hand at all times. But if availability isn’t carefully planned early, attempting to find things at the point when they are needed can unnecessarily delay the project.
How do you mitigate these risks? Project planning helps. Ensure that the tools needed to ensure a successful transition, such as a well-developed storyboard template, are in place. Circulate the review standards at the beginning of the project, so that everyone is aware of the requirements throughout the project. Make sure that everyone has the tools they need before the critical point in the project.
And, above all, encourage effective communication. Even if you think you communicate enough… well, there’s probably still room for improvement.
We can’t eliminate all risk. But we can put processes in place to help acknowledge and plan for the risks we do know about.
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