Making your Implementation Execution as Successful as Hamilton: An American Musical

Making your Implementation Execution as Successful as Hamilton: An American Musical

Making your Implementation Execution as Successful as Hamilton: An American Musical

Blog #2 Customer Service Excellence during Implementation

In my last article I shared how providing good customer service should never be your goal. Instead, a company should focus on fostering a culture of excellence. Excellent customer service flows naturally from a corporate commitment to excellence in all areas. Over the course of the next few blogs I am going to talk about how excellence shines through in varies customer service settings.

Let’s start at the beginning of a customer service relationship, with Implementation.

Implementation is a lot like staging the Broadway musical Hamilton. There is the cast, the crew, the audience, the musicians- people by the hundreds, not to mention all the costumes, props and stage sets. Everyone and everything must work together to transform these many moving parts into a seamless performance. The keys to a flawless implementation are the same as the keys to successfully staging a Broadway hit: commitment and communication.

Commitment Essentials: You will want to secure

  1. Corporate Commitments
  2. Team Commitments
  3. Individual Commitments

It’s all about being all-in.

Lin-Manuel Miranda spent several years writing the script and lyrics for his Tony award winning production Hamilton. He was all-in. His cast is all-in. His crew is all-in. Even a great play will fall flat if everyone involved in its production is not all-in. When one company decides it can best achieve its goals through the implementation of the product of another company’s you have corporate commitment. That commitment must filter down to the implementation teams.

Teams need clear goals and to be held accountable for meeting those goals. On the set of Hamilton the lighting team and the costume team both understand how they contribute to the overall success of the production. They understand the vision of the writer, director and producer. In the same way, each team in an implementation must understand their own role and how that role fits in with the overall plan. Just as the show can’t go on if any one of the teams decide to sit the night out, the implementation can fall apart if each team isn’t completely committed to propelling the project forward by fulfilling their role.

The same is even truer for the individuals, whether they are the actors and musicians or the technicians and trainers. Each individual must be committed to fulfilling their role with excellence. They must know their lines or roles thoroughly and they must understand how their actions impact the project as a whole. Committed individuals join together to form committed teams that advance the vision of their leader, whether their leader is Lin-Manuel Miranda or a CEO.

When everyone is fully committed, or “all-in,” you can work on the other key to success, communication, to keep everyone “all-together.”

Communication Essentials: You will want to decide

  1. Who to Communicate With
  2. How to Structure Your Communication
  3. How to Track the Process through Communication

It’s all about keeping everyone on “all-together.”

The bigger the project, whether a hit Broadway show like Hamilton, with more than 200 people involved, or a complex implementation, the more critical excellence in communication is. Be sure everyone who needs to be in the loop is- and no one who should not or need not be- is kept out of the loop. Who you don’t talk to is as critical as who you do talk to. If you want to ensure that your emails are actually opened and read by the recipients, keep your communications as short and direct as possible. There is a fine line between giving enough information and overloading people with details, so remember who you are communicating with and what their “need to know” level is. The information you share with the ERP tech team will be more detailed and very different from the information you will need to share with the HR training team. Be sure to establish early on who will be included on the various communication threads.

During the show, Hamilton’s sets and props glide on and off stage with seeming ease because their route has been carefully structured. In an implementation you can improve the flow of information by using a similar structure for each email in each communication thread. Don’t let your readers get lost in the abundance of words in a long email. When you have a great deal of information to share, bullet points are your friend. The exercise of structuring your details into bullet points will also help you to distill your thoughts into salient points of action. Your goal is to be complete without being complicated. And remember, communication is a two-way street. Reply to every email you receive, even if it is only to say, “I got it!”

Stage managers keep everyone on track during a show. They are the behind the scenes organizers who make everything that happens on stage look seamless. Your implementation can also benefit from having a “stage manager” or point person for both the service provider and the client. These are the people who will coordinate all communication to ensure that every step of the way is coordinated, planned, tracked and documented. These are the people who will hold everyone accountable.

Whether staging a Broadway smash like Hamilton or coordinating a corporate implementation, you need to get everyone all-in and all-together. To foster that, you will need to communicate clearly and appropriately to the right people. Once you have selected your point people, defined your communication threads and structured your communication plan with a team that is all-in, you have set the stage for a successful implementation.

Fostering User Adoption in your Learning Program

Fostering User Adoption in your Learning Program

Fostering User Adoption in your Learning Program

As you transition from your outdated Learning Management System (LMS) to your new GyrusAim v16.1.0.4 application it is important to keep in mind your users’ perception of the change. Successful implementations hinge on how well the user base accepts the new program and what is has to offer. Below I have compiled a list of change management strategies that can be used specifically in optimizing your experience in migrating your enterprise over to a newer and more robust application.

In order to properly prepare your workforce for the impending change, it is pertinent that you:

  1. Obtain User Input to Specify Requirements

One of the easiest and strongest components of User adoption is making your users feel as if they have a say in what is to be selected. By allowing users’ to specify their unique requirements you can build a pre-qualifications list which can go a long way towards fitting your organization with the optimal application for its needs. Pre-qualifications discussions can also help you identify topics that were not in your initial product scope.  If it turns out that the only reason your users’ dislike their current LMS is due to the lack of one particular feature, the work leading up to a new system could be lighter than you anticipate.

  1. Keep Users involved in the Selection Process

Don’t just stop at obtaining user requirements, invite users to participate in your selection committee. Allowing them to evaluate and discern features of the products which are available to them. This step can go a long way in explaining to other members of the organization why features are exhibited differently than initially scoped or envisioned by the user base during their requirements forming process. This can also help if your requirements are heavily regimented and require an extensive time commitment. By keeping the user group abreast of how the search is going, it will then be easier to explain any type of lull or required extension in the resources required to obtain the perfect application to suit your organization’s needs.

  1. Inform Users of the Changes they will experience in the new program

Encourage communication between the group members who sit on the selection board and members of the organization that will be most heavily impacted by this change. This will establish the groundwork to let them know how the process is going and what requirements may be tough to find specific compliance. Once the product is carefully chosen by the selection committee, it is vital to inform on the positives of the new system.

  1. Know the System Benefits

In order to properly inform the user base on the impending software change. It is best that you take proper notation on exactly what you are getting with this change. Know the gained functionalities and options which you will be offering like the back of your hand. By knowing the cool features you are getting (especially the ones that exceed the original scope of requirements), you can act as an internal sales figure for increased product adoption. In some cases, the manner in which a system approaches a particular challenge can be much better than you originally envision. If one of your students is disheartened by the prospect of losing a particular feature, it would be very beneficial to identify the specific feature that is replacing it. Imagine the ability to be able to say this line, to a troubled individual concerned with the new change: “Though that one specific method of course creation has changed, you now have the ability to further configure multiple aspects which we had never considered, which will not only improve our course offerings and user accessibility, but also our capability to measure impact on our organization.”

  1. Educate on the Interworkings of the New Program

Knowing that a component is achieved in a different manner in the new system can also go a long way in addressing hostility expressed towards a new system offering. Training can be specifically developed for your workforce once you have been educated on the ins and outs of the product you have implemented. Saying the following expression in how it relates to your old system, “In the old system, such and such was achieved by doing this and this, while in the new system this is a simple click, and completion of a form.” Extends the perception of a new application much further than, “This is how you do this now.”

  1. Immediately Utilize the New Application

If you yourself are not buying into the new functionalities of the new application, it will be hard to justify its adoption to the personnel you are administering the application towards. Typically, in organizations where a technological change is suggested, there is a bit of a push back as users have acclimated to the system currently in place. If there is an option to utilize the functionality of the environment of which they are comfortable with, there is a very small chance you will be able to migrate them over to the newly accepted platform. It is best to completely sever utilization of legacy products, in order to gain a complete product buy-in from all applicable professionals.

Using these steps will go a long way in expanding the reception of a new product and the process itself is applicable to many different facets of life. By getting people involved, keeping them involved, and informing yourself, you can close the gap between discontinuing usage and start a new application and recognize its full potential. Please continue to join me as I further investigate the learning industry and things that impact our industry from week to week.

 

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

A few months ago we explored How to Successfully Implement Your LMS, today we provide a general infographic in order to provide an understanding of the process at a glance. The Implementation process does not have to be frustrating, and we here at Gyrus do all that we can to help our clients in any manner we can. Be sure to join us for our continuing pursuit of knowledge in the learning and development front. The following is intended to aid users in their quest for a clean implementation. 

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

Text of Infographic:

Guide to Successful LMS Implementation

  1. Tune your Product, Process, and Content
    Set the interaction parameters within your environment, how do you want it to look with attention to branding and reports? Have you taken the steps to prepare your content for the impending migration?
  2. Define Organizational Roles and Permissions
    Take this time to identify system users and define their roles and permissions. In this step, you can identify key stakeholders required to test the system.
  3. Test Your System in a Secure Environment
    By setting up a test environment, users can identify issues from migrating data from a legacy system, which can be corrected and enhanced prior to the Organization’s Go-Live date.
  4. Record User Feedback
    What are your employees saying about the LMS system? Is it functioning as the organization requires? What steps need to be taken to close the gap?
  5. Perform Final Tune-up
    Correct any entry issues and utilize stakeholder feedback in order to determine any necessary changes prior to product launch.
  6. Launch your LMS Platform
    After your system has been filled with organizational data, branded, tested, tested again, and the stakeholders have been trained. You are ready to Go-Live!

References:

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How to successfully implement your LMS

How To Successfully Implement Your LMS.

How to successfully implement your LMS

How to successfully implement your LMS.

Your organization has always wanted a Learning Management System. They previously opted for a system that just did not fit your organization’s needs, or they have never had an LMS and you have produced a few eLearnings here and there, but nothing has ever been regulated. You find the deeper you delve into training the messier it is becoming. At this point, you are desperate for some sanity, so you begin the daunting task of begging the higher-ups to award you a system that could very well change your life in this position. Time goes by and your desperate pleas are finally answered and you are awarded the green light. You are then tasked with finding the perfect LMS for your organization. After assembling a team and discussing all the things required in this new system, spending weeks combing through written materials and vetting vendor demos, then conducting final interviews, the wait is over. You have finally selected GyrusAim as the Learning Management System to carry out all of your corporation’s learning exercises. This is all well and good, and we are ecstatic to have you on board; but you may be thinking, “What do I do next?”

Organize an LMS team

Often times, these are the same people that helped you establish the system requirements in the first place. In this iteration of meetings you are identifying stakeholders and assigning project roles. Collect everyone together who will be providing courses on this new system and determine what they truly need. This team should consist of members from HR (Training department if you have one), IT and Management, to ensure the best possible outcome.

Determine what you want the LMS to do for you

You may feel like you accomplished most of this in your search for the right LMS. However, you have learned of new capabilities and new requirements after talking with the team, and you have suggested these new learnings very rapidly to a Gyrus representative. We are here to help, if you need aid in integrating a separate product or developing an API, we’re here for you, and will instruct you on appropriate measures during your administration training session.

Learn the LMS like the back of your hand

At Gyrus, as well as in most LMS organizations, we provide in-depth training for our administrators. You do not have to undertake this brand new product without full understanding. We’ll train you on the ins and outs, how to structure interoperability between your other resources, and how to go-live as quickly and effectively as possible. We also are here for you throughout the entire process, if something comes up and you have an immediate question, contact us and we will provide you with an answer. The more you know of the systems capabilities, the more you will be able to get out of the system and the more ROI you will be able to obtain.

Convert previous materials to SCORM packages for integration

Be sure to include all of your supplemental materials, not just the eLearnings. We want you to be able to get the most out of your LMS experience from day 1. This is a process you can either do yourself through a content authoring tool, or Gyrus can do this for you for an additional charge. The sooner the content is organized, the sooner you will be able to go live and begin to realize the full potential of your investment.

Load all of these completed materials into a test environment, then conduct rounds of testing

Now that you have all of these materials at the ready, it is time to place them in a testing environment. In this configuration, you will find the first instances of your imported employees, clients, and co-workers. Make sure access is granted to all of the members of the LMS team, as this will allow you to have many eyes on the system for verifying the user and record imports, validity of file types, and functionality of previous revisions of eLearnings. You can also optimize bulk email strategy, and assign privileges to users, who may be able to both train and be trained. It is vital to determine the correctness of this information as it will be the backbone to system functionality going forward.

Start producing new content

Once, your new LMS is showing verified data that you have approved. Your LMS provider will migrate you to a live environment. You can breathe a sigh of relief as your hard work has finally paid off, and you have the LMS of your dreams. Be sure to continue your relation with the vendors, write them holiday cards, and contact them whenever a question pops up. At this point, we recommend implementing the new training exercises you have been discussing for months and scheduling away, as your program will take off like it has never done before.  

Examples of LMS Use Case Scenarios

Last week we took a look and writing a Meaningful LMS Use Case Scenario.  This week we will try to outline some of the most basic scenarios to help you in brainstorming for your own organization.  Keep in mind that use cases need to fit your organization needs for an LMS.  For example, it wouldn’t be useful for you to use our use case on eLearning, if your organization has no intention of using eLearning for training.

We will take a look at some of the use cases by role.  These should give you a good idea of the items to be demonstrated during an LMS demo.  Use cases can also be organized by workflow.  Feel free to use the use cases below in your own demonstrations.  It’s important to note that any of the use cases provided can be combined or edited to fit the needs of your organization.

Student Role

  • Demonstrate the student’s ability to launch eLearning courses.  Show how they would be able to stop the course and resume at a later time.  Show how the student can track their progress through the course.
  • Demonstrate the student’s ability to find a class that is required of them and self-enroll.  Show how the student could cancel their enrollment if they needed to.
  • Show how a student would take an assessment in the LMS.  If the student were to pass the assessment, show how they can print a report of their score.  If the student were to fail the assessment, show how they could review their answers.
  • Explain how certifications can be used in your LMS.  Demonstrate how students would interact with certifications.
  • Display a student’s training transcript.  Show what options the student has for exporting the transcript.
  • Demonstrate how students can review upcoming training needs.  Show where students will see expiration dates on recurrent training or due dates on new training.
  • Show how students will be able to review their current enrollments.  Show any waitlist, hold, favorite, wish list, or other enrollment options for the student user.
  • Demonstrate how students will be able to upload documents to complement their training endeavors. 
  • Demonstrate how students can enter their own training records from conferences or external training attended outside the organization.

 

Manager Role

  • Demonstrate how managers can review their subordinates in the LMS.  Show what employee information they will have access to.
  • Demonstrate how a manager would enroll students in training.  Show how the manager would be able to see what each of his/her subordinates are currently enrolled in.
  • Display which reports can be run by managers.
  • Show how a manager would give an assessment to a subordinate.  Show how a manager would review subordinate assessment scores.
  • Demonstrate how a manager can review training requirements of subordinates.  Show how the manager would review expiration dates on recurrent training and due dates on upcoming training.
  • Demonstrate the approval process for managers.  Include in your demonstration:

     

    • Approving student’s self-reported training
    • Approving enrollment in a class
    • Approving certification enrollment
    • Approving enrollment in eLearning

 

Instructor / Trainer

  • Demonstrate how instructors can manage an instructor led training classroom.  Include scheduling classes, cancelling classes, changing class statuses, and completing classes.
  • Show how instructors will enroll employees into classes.  Show how instructors can review class enrollment statuses and limits.  Show how instructors will cancel student enrollment in classes if they need to.
  • Display which reports can be run by instructors.  Show how these reports can be exported and printed.  Show a sign-in sheet or class roster.
  • Demonstrate how instructors can add & edit locations, instructors, and other resources.  Show any resource management capabilities.  Show how instructors can change location of an instructor led training.  Demonstrate how to resolve resource allocation conflicts.
  • Show how instructors will track attendance in classes.
  • Demonstrate which types of evaluations are available for training.  Show how instructors can assign evaluations.
  • Demonstrate how to schedule webinars and mark attendance.
  • Show how an instructor can print certificates of completion for courses.
  • Show how an instructor would give an assessment to a student.  Show how a instructor would review the student’s assessment scores.

 

Training Administrator

  • Demonstrate how to create ILT courses and assign resources. 
  • Demonstrate the process to upload eLearning and assign requirements to students.  Demonstrate any conformance testing within the solution.
  • Show how a web page url can be turned into training content in the solution.
  • Show how a document can be uploaded and turned into training content in the solution.
  • Demonstrate adding an employee to the system.  Show all steps that must be performed to optimally setup a student for taking training.  Show all steps that must be performed to optimally setup a manager to manage subordinates in the training atmosphere. 
    Note:  Many systems will require more setup than just adding an employee to start taking training.  For example, GyrusAim allows you to assign training requirements by Job/Organization/Direct.  However, in order for all of these items to work, you must first setup the jobs and the organizations as well.  Make sure you understand everything required in the setup.  This step is often missed.
  • Demonstrate the level of control that training administrators have over the user interface of the solution.  Show what they can customize to fit the culture of their organization.
  • Show how training administrators can assign training requirements.
  • Demonstrate how certifications are defined and how they can be assigned.
  • Demonstrate how training administrators will be able to track training within the system.

     

    • Show current enrollment – Show any drilldown possibilities
    • Show annual reports on training hours – Show any drilldown possibilities
    • Show training ratings and feedback
    • Show needs analysis
  • Display reports that are available to the training administrator.

 

The Solution Itself

  • Demonstrate how the solution would notify a student that they were enrolled in a class.
  • Demonstrate how the solution would notify a student of a change in location or a class cancellation.
  • Demonstrate how the solution would notify a student of upcoming expiration dates on recurrent training.
  • Demonstrate how the solution would notify a student of training that is due.
  • Demonstrate the solutions error messages and system notification capabilities.
  • Demonstrate how supervisors of notified of pending approvals.
  • Demonstrate how the solution sends out system wide notifications.

Meaningful LMS Use Case Scenarios

For those who are unfamiliar with use case scenarios, they are simply the scenarios that users of your system would perform.  Put another way: This is a way for you to make a case for the usage scenarios of your potential LMS users.  It is pretty difficult to decide on an LMS provider if you haven't first decided how your employees will be using the LMS.  Use cases force the vendor to show how to perform certain tasks within their solution.  It is easy to check the ‘yes’ box on a feature requirement, but when they show you how to use the feature, you can decide if it satisfies your need or not.  According to Brandon Hall Group, “Good use case statements are specific about how the system will be used, and are not just a list of features, as illustrated in [the] example [below]” [1].

Brandon Hall Example of Good and Bad Use Case

It can get pretty hectic when you start to think about all the different possible scenarios that are available.  For example, let’s say that one of your scenarios is the ability for students to launch eLearning from the solution.  Do you want managers to be able to track progress? What types of information do you want the LMS to report on the eLearning?  Should the eLearning show up in the course catalog, or as s required training for the user?  Is the eLearning allowed for all employees, or do some employees require approval to launch the course?  Does the eLearning have a built in assessment, or is the solution responsible for assessing the employee’s knowledge?  The list of questions could go on and on with no discernible rhyme or reason. 

In order to organize your list of scenarios it helps to ask the question “Who will do What?”, and organize your answers into a table with the same headers.

 

Who

What

 

 

 

It’s up to you which section you start with, but I find it easier when working with clients to start on the Who side.  Now, GyrusAim has role based security, so this is the obvious place to start for our LMS.  Roles based security simply means that you create your own roles with our existing 250+ permissions, and you can create as many roles as you would like.  Therefore, think of the role name as the Who and the permissions as the What.  Below, I have added some typical responses for who uses an LMS.  I have added one more Who that is often missed in use case scenarios:  the solution itself (these are system automated actions).  Keep reading to find out more about these use cases.

Who

What

  • Student
  • Manager
  • Instructor
  • Training Administrator
  • The Solution Itself

 

 

Next, we need to start thinking about some of the things that we will do in an LMS.  This is a much longer list, and will be very specific to the needs of your organization.  We have provided an extensive list to get you started, but have by no means encompassed everything in an LMS.  When you start to get stuck in the What section, remember to ask yourself, “Who will do What?”.

Who

What

  • Student
  • Manager
  • Instructor
  • Training Administrator
  • The Solution Itself
  • Enroll In Class
  • Launch eLearning
  • Take Assessment
  • Enroll in Certification
  • Track Transcripts
  • Print Transcripts
  • Track Training Requirements
  • Expirations and Due Dates
  • View Enrollments
  • Self-Report Training
  • Apply for Certifications
  • Approve Training
  • Enroll Students in Training
  • Send Emails
  • Run Reports
  • Give Assessments
  • Schedule Classes
  • Manage Classes
  • Enroll Students in classes
  • Complete Classes
  • Modify Resources
  • Schedule Webinars
  • Run Reports
  • Create Courses
  • Upload eLearning
  • Create Content From a Web Link
  • Create Content by Uploading a Document
  • Create Webinar
  • Add Students
  • Manage Organization Structure
  • Manage Jobs
  • Define Certifications
  • Assign Training Requirements
  • Develop Learning Plans

 

After you have developed your columns, you are ready to start assembling some use cases.  These can be assembled in several different ways.  Two examples include: by role and by workflow.

Use Case by Role Examples

#1. Student’s Ability to view and track training.

Demonstrate how [The Student]WHO will be able [to view their historical training records and print these records in CSV format from their personal computer]WHAT.

Feel free to add in the specifics of what you need.  This will also allow you to see how easy the process is for your users.

#2. Administrator’s Content Management Features

Demonstrate the administrator’s control over content creation.  Show each of the following:

  • Create Instructor Led Training
  • Upload an eLearning
  • Create content from a document upload.

Show how an administrator can run reports on available content listing in the system.

 

Use Case by Workflow Example

#1 Instructor Led Training – Demonstrate how each of the following actions can be performed by their respective position.

  1. The administrator creates a course in the LMS.
  2. An instructor schedules a class for next month.  The class will be located at our corporate headquarters.
  3. Students will enroll in the class from the course catalog.  The class will require approval from a manager.
  4. Managers will be able to approve enrollments.  Managers should be able to review all of their direct report’s enrollments.
  5. The solution will send an automated email to the student when they are enrolled.

Notice that we have used each of the roles defined in the Who section above to complete one full workflow.  This should help you get an idea of the process involved in creating, scheduling, enrolling, and managing a class.

 

This week is about the basic components of use case writing.  You should be able to take the table for “Who will do What” above and come up with your own extensive collection of cases.  For any questions on LMS use case writing feel free to Contact Us and submit a general inquiry.

Next week we will provide a longer list of role and workflow based examples you could potentially use in your own demonstration request.

 

 


[1] "The Poor Overlooked LMS Use Case – Brandon Hall Group." 2013. 26 Jan. 2016 <http://www.brandonhall.com/blogs/the-poor-overlooked-lms-use-case/>

 

Implementing an LMS (or: Good Information Never Gets Stale)

implement smallRecently I was looking for background information about implementing an LMS.  Naturally I did what most people do and searched the Internet for “lms implementation.”  After working my way down the list I noticed a link to the PDF “339 Tips on the Implementation of an LMS or LCMS,” by the Elearning Guild.

The document seemed interesting so I opened the link and noticed it was published November 20th, 2006.  Hmm, a document that’s almost ten years old.  In this age when technology changes so fast I wasn’t sure how relevant the information would be but I opened it anyway because certainly some of the 339 tips would still be useful.

Upon reviewing the document I realized that many of the ideas were quite helpful and still very important and relevant even in 2015, many years after the PDF was originally published.  For example, on page 11 the tip “Use a phased rollout to a small group of users first, then to a larger group, then to your largest group. Iron out the bugs with the small group.”  I used that advice a few weeks ago with a new Gyrus Systems customer, and there it was, published in black and white in 2006.  That idea, to start out small, is extremely important because if the learning program needs to be changed after the company goes live, it’s much easier to change it with a small number of users than with the whole company.

Another gem, “Test, test, test before going live with the new application to insure success.” on page 17.  That should be a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how challenging it can be to ensure that new customers spend adequate time testing the LMS during the implementation phase prior to going live.  Perhaps setting up and configuring the LMS took longer than necessary, limiting the testing time, because the planned “Go-Live” date is just around the corner and cannot be changed.  It’s a better idea to delay the go-live to guarantee plenty of testing time versus going live and being surprised by a failure that could have been caught in testing.

337 more useful tips are included in this informative publication.  I recommend downloading and reviewing it to prepare yourself with excellent advice for implementing your new Learning Management System.

Buy-in for an LMS Implementation

LMS Buy In

In the introduction to the Change Management Strategies Series I mention three major factors effecting change.  These include an organized implementation plan, communication, and management buy-in.  This blog will focus on management buy-in.  A direct report's level of engagement can be effected by information or business practices received by their manager.  If a manager is resistant to change, often times the direct report will inherit the same attitude.  Understanding that manager's need the same reassurances as direct reports all the way up the line will go a long way in solving this problem.  Increasing manager buy-in can be done by developing test groups during the implementation process.

 
Ideas for test groups:
  • Create a game/raffle out of it. Let managers enter into a raffle to be put on a test team with their direct-reports.  (This method will probably require some type of reward as well for the 'extra' work)
  • Assign one test team per channel or industry that you support.
  • Create real world scenarios for testers that will promote the value add of a new LMS.
  • Never forget to explain the purpose of the test group and show employees how they are directly improving the business by giving their feedback.
  • Add a message to the communication strategy that highlights the achievements of each of the test groups.
  • Hold weekly or bi-weekly meetings where managers can give their feedback and the feedback of their direct reports
  • Encourage test groups to find bugs and errors in the system (this will help you in your overall roll out)

Each of the ideas above is geared toward including managers and allowing them to include their direct reports.  Once managers start to use the LMS they will become promoters of the system (if you can successfully highlight all of the benefits).  Using testing groups for manager buy in can increase adoption rates, reduce launch day glitches, create a positive stir in the organization about the LMS, and accomplish a lot of testing that the training department would have to do on their own.

 

Communications for an LMS Implementation

In the introduction to the Change Management Strategies Series I mention three major factors effecting change.  These include an organized implementation plan, communication, and management buy-in.  This blog will focus on strategic communications.  Learning Management System (LMS) roll outs that catch employees unaware can have a potentially devastating impact.  The project team may believe that because implementing a new LMS is the best thing for the organization, that employees will automatically see the benefit as well.  This is likely not the case, because employees may not have all the information.  Specific information that might not be available to employees includes:

  • Who the LMS will directly impact?  Who is responsible for steering the implementation?
  • What is an LMS?  What exactly will this mean for internal customers?
  • When will it be released?  When will internal customers see a change?
  • How will the LMS impact the organization?  How will this change the way work is done?
  • Why is this impact needed within the organization?  Why now?
These bullet points make for the perfect first topic of a minimum three that should be released during an LMS implementation.  We recommend three communication releases at minimum to cover the inception of the project, the midway point, and the blackout / go-live phase.  Feel free to add in communication points to your project plan as you see fit – especially if you are planning on a longer implementation.  One I like to add in is the Launch Day communication.  

 

Potential topics for communications:
  • Inception of the Project

    • Use the "5 Ws" above.
    • Let employees know they will be receiving a Midway Point communication as the project progresses.
  • The Midway Point

    • Discuss data migration.  Make employees feel comfortable that they will maintain their training records (if you have decided to make training records available to employees).
    • Reapply some of the earlier "5 W" bullet points.
    • Include an endorsement from a key stakeholder.  Try to use someone that has been active in the implementation and knows the power of the new solution.
    • Talk about successes in the project.
    • Let employees know they will be receiving a Go-Live communication (try to give an approximate time range).
  • Blackout / Go-Live Phase

    • Let employees know that during the blackout time frame they will not be able to access the system.  Even if a blackout period is over the weekend, you may have weekend workers that would be interested in knowing their LMS is down for maintenance.
    • Include an endorsement from a key management personnel.  This endorsement should focus on the benefit to the internal customer with limited emphasis on the organization as a whole.
    • Give the employee a specific time frame for the blackout and a specific date for the LMS Go-Live.
  • Launch Day

    • Provide information on how employees can now access the system.
    • Thank employees for their patience throughout the process.
    • Offer training on the new system (this would need to be developed during implementation).
 
 

White Board for an Organized LMS Implementation

In the introduction to the Change Management Strategies Series I mention three major factors effecting change.  These include an organized implementation plan, communication, and management buy-in.  This blog will focus on an organized implementation.  Whether you are in the market for new Learning Management Solution (LMS) or have recently purchased new LMS, the implementation should be at the forefront of your mind.

An LMS implementation includes the application installation (if not hosted), data migration (historical and automated), configuration, training, testing, and launch.  Simply put, it is the time from which the software is purchased to the time the software is operational.  Implementations can span a wide variety of times depending on factors such as: amount of users and administrators, resources available, integrity of the data being migrated, and etc.  Here at Gyrus Systems we have worked on implementations spanning 3 weeks to over 12 months.

One of the keys to a successful implementation is keeping organized.  A great way to keep track of events during an implementation is to utilize a basic white board.  We keep a white board wall in the office with a template of the general implementation plan.  I'm not saying you need an entire wall, however a simple white board could increase the organization of your LMS implementation team.

Benefits of using a white board include:
  • Keep everyone updated on the progress of the implementation
  • Encourages input from all resources involved in the project
  • Gives visibility of processes within the implementation
  • Allows for reorganizing and re-prioritizing events and milestones in the plan
  • Having the plan visible throughout the project may prevent potential conflicts during the course of the implementation.

If you have already purchased the software, hopefully you were provided an implementation plan (might be referred to as your project plan).  If you were not provided a plan, or have not yet purchased an LMS, I would recommend asking for a standard implementation plan.  Companies may be hesitant to provide a detailed plan until they have spoken with you about requirements, however they should be able to supply a general plan that they work from.  Once you have the plan you are ready to start filling in your white board!

How you can use a white board to aid in your implementation:

  • Draw a rough outline of your project time line on the board
  • Have a meeting to discuss key points in the time line, and the resources needed at each phase of the project
  • Keep the board in a highly trafficked or visible area
  • Encourage your team to provide input and suggest changes if they think the project could be managed better
  • Don't worry if the board gets messy – this means people contributing
  • Reevaluate the board and your progress weekly to stay organized.

 

See Also:
Change Management Strategies for LMS Implementation
Communications for an LMS Implementation
Buy-in for an LMS Implementation

 

Change Management Strategies for LMS Implementation

     Three factors that are important to change management when implementing a Learning Management System (LMS) are management buy-in, communication, and organization.  All three come down to making the employee feel safe about the change that is occurring.  If management resists the transition into your new LMS then employees will not feel as though it is a priority.  If the change is not well communicated, they will feel as though they were not considered when the change was planned and implemented.  Lastly, if the project is not well organized, this will be apparent to your employee audience and they will lose faith in its legitimacy.

     When change management is not taken into consideration we are left with employees who feel the change is a low priority, ignored their consideration, and lacks organization.  Each of these factors will lead to lower adoption rates among employees.  If training is a requirement of the organization, employees may even begin to resent the change that has been forced on them.  Again, this all comes down to employee’s feeling safe and comfortable.

Three best practices to meet these challenges include:

  • Encourage manager involvement and feedback in the implementation process, and student involvement in testing groups.
  • In the project plan set milestones for company-wide communications to go out at the inception of the project, midway through, and before the blackout/go live period.
  • Regularly review and modify the project to fit the business needs of your organization.  Get your implementation leader to provide progress reports to keep everyone on track and organized during the implementation.

 

See Also:
White Board for an Organized LMS Implementation
Communications for an LMS Implementation
Buy-in for an LMS Implementation

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