Avoiding LMS solution blues

by 24 Feb 2009

Q. We are currently building the business case for an integrated learning and talent management solution, and want to ensure the implementation runs as smoothly as possible. What are the reasons why learning and talent management solution projects run into difficulty or fail?

A. There are common themes that recurwhen an implementation project runs into difficulty. One thing to remember is that a floundering project can always be resur rected. There is no excuse for total failure other than abandonment. Ensure you focus on basic project management principles; this is not to imply there needs to be a great deal of complexity added to our learning management solution project.

There can be a lot of hype associated with e-learning generally and implementa tion specifically. It is imperative that the project team remain disciplined and fo cused on the project plan and the objec tives that link directly to the organisational strategy. Many learning management solu tions are web-based and, as a flexible tech nology platform, it is often tempting to add more items to the project plan that appear stimulating and "leading edge".

The next key factor is ensuring that ade quate resources are available for the imple mentation. The usual deficiency is in peo ple, not money. The implementation project requires the participation of key stakehold ers that will continue their stakeholding when the solution goes live.

Not only is there a need for sufficient participation to get the work done; the proj ect team must also include persons with adequate decision-making ability to clear the path for other project team members. It is easy to stall project momentum and the motivation of the project team if there are delays in decision-making. When the proj ect commences, the big decisions should have been foreshadowed and, preferably, dealt with.

Next on the list is having a clear plan that is linked to individual tasks. There must be processes that measure and track the execu tion of tasks against the plan. These processes should include face-to-face meet ings as well as supporting tools such as shared calendars and task management or basic project software.

Dare I say it, but more meetings are often better than less in an implementation project. If it is a large and complex project this may mean a daily 10 to 15-minute meeting with a set agenda and time limit. Each project team member contributes their progress against tasks and highlights any potential blocks to continued progress.

On a higher level, implementation proj ects may falter under scrutiny by a board or executive management team. These projects are typically not clearly aligned with organi sational strategy. If the implementation proj ect team is not clear on the organisational strategy, then the first priority is to gain ab solute clarity.

It is not unusual to find different interpre tations of strategy by different persons and different parts of the organisational structure. When the learning management solution is rolled out it is important that the purpose of the solution is communicated to the entire organisation and alignment to the organisa tional strategy is clear.

Communicating the alignment with organ isational strategy is one element of a broader communication strategy for the solution roll out. Achieving clarity on the alignment with the organisational strategy facilitates buy-in by managers at different tiers within the or ganisation structure.

By Brian Clark, Director, Dots Talent Solutions. Tel: 1300 726 708. Email: bclark@dotstalent.com. Web: dotstalentsolutions.com