It was a beautiful September day when my phone rang. The call was from the owner of a small client company. She was distraught. Her long-time program manager and dear friend, had died suddenly. Aside from the overwhelming grief of this loss from a personal perspective, there were direct business implications. The company had just won a major fixed-price contract with a federal government agency to convert 14 instructor led classes to e-learning courses covering 24 hours of content and including 2-3 hours of video content. The client’s deceased program manager was the architect of the plan to deliver the contract’s required course deliverables, but no one else really knew what that plan was.
Our client was in an emergency situation and needed a miracle to not only save the project, but perhaps the company as well.
We worked with the client’s team to gain a deep understanding of the audience, content, timeline, budget, technology and delivery requirements, the client’s employee skillset, and the project objectives. We learned that the deadlines were incredibly tight and immovable, and that content must be created using antiquated html templates requiring html coding knowledge, launched from a 16 year old home built government LMS that had unique technical requirements. We quickly realized that the client did not have the e-learning design and development skillset internally to meet the contract deliverables. Since they were under a fixed-priced contract, outsourcing the development to an e-learning development company would far exceed the budget.
LETS TURN DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT ON ITS EAR
To meet the contractual obligations and stay within budget, we had to get creative. Very creative. We decided to leverage the client’s SMEs as content design and developers, bring in four of our IDs and a graphic artist to support the SMEs, and have our custom technology development partner build an easy-to-use custom authoring tool so we could make it all work.
We proposed a shift from long linear development cycles with SMEs, IDs, and Developers to a rapid collaborative model allowing SMEs and IDs to quickly generate quality content without having to be developers.
We made this possible by developing a rapid development authoring tool to allow non-developers to create courses to meet the government agency’s LMS template, 508 & SCORM compliance requirements. The tool allowed for the output of files to the required html templates, and as Word documents (the format required by the federal government client) storyboards for content review. The tool would do all the coding and heavy lifting so the SMEs and IDs would only have to focus on the content. After a couple of quick webinar training sessions, the SMEs and IDs were using the tool effectively.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
Using this solution, the client was able to meet all contract requirements and deadlines. The custom authoring tool worked flawlessly. The client with the support of our team produced all 14 courses and 4 videos in 5 months. The Federal Government client’s response upon project completion . . . “What you did was nothing short of miraculous!” We worked with the client’s team to gain a deep understanding of the audience, content, timeline, budget, technology and delivery requirements, the client’s employee skillset, and the project objectives.
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