Posts Tagged ‘e-learning client management’

Ask e-learning clients 3 questions or pay the price!




Great, you got an opportunity to propose developing an e-learning program for a new client. They like the examples of e-learning that you have up on your website. They know that you have up to date skills in the major e-learning software development platforms. They are thrilled about the possibility of working with you.

You are getting ready for the project scoping meeting with the senior client representatives. What should you ask them? Here are the three critical core questions you must ask at this stage, and the reasons you need to ask them.

  1. How long do you expect this e-learning content to remain current?

Some clients know the answer to this question. Others may not. But the expected useful life of the program is one of the key things that you need to know. Some things, like a technical skill, may only have a useful lifetime of months. Other skills, like soft or people skills, might have a lifetime of years.

Content with shorter lifetimes must be addressed with smaller program development budgets. What was true in one client’s circumstances may not be the same as in this new client’s. Don’t assume or guess, know. Ask so that you can properly scope your development proposal.

If your new client representatives does not have an immediate answer, take the time to explore the issue with them and develop it together.

  1. How many people will potential use this e-learning program?

The economics of e-learning are very different from the economics of traditional learning or professional development. The single most important element in e-learning economics is the “unit cost of delivery” – how much will it cost to deliver a single instance of this program to a single learner.

An e-learning program, especially when delivered over the Internet or an learning management system, can potentially reach thousands of people. This means that the cost of developing the program will be spread over many, many people. When this is the case, you can make a business case for more room in the development budget.

More room in the development budget means money to pay for things like video components, interactive menus, and even – adaptive content delivery that takes different paths depending on each learner’s personal ability, learning style and background.

When the potential individual delivery numbers are large, you must discuss these alternatives with your potential client. Each of these can increase individuals’ learning engagement. Increased engagement means greater transfer of skills back to the job. A well used, larger e-learning content development budget will pay off in increased productivity for your client.

In contrast, when the number of anticipated users is small, you will rapidly want to focus on including the simplest version of the one or two techniques that maximize engagement for this client’s learners in your proposal.

  1. What is the one critical thing that you expect people to do differently back on the job when they finish this e-learning program?

Clients expect results. That is why they are paying you. You might think that the results they are paying you for is the e-learning program that you will deliver. But it is not. For most clients, your hard work is a means to an end. You need to know your client’s ultimate end in order to properly develop first your proposal, and then eventually the content you will deliver.

For most clients, the ultimate end is a change in the way that the people who take the program behave on the job. You must know precisely what change in behavior your client wants to achieve. Knowing this will drive all of your content creation and delivery process design decisions. You can’t put together a correct development proposal without insight into this client goal.

If you don’t know this, you will fall into the trap of projecting such an ultimate requirement onto your client. You may be aware that you are doing this. You may not. But all professional training, including e-learning, is about changing the way that the people who take the program behave on the job. You can’t properly develop any professional training program without having such a goal, whether it is explicit or implicit.

If you don’t ask this question, then unless you are lucky, and your projected change lines up with the client’s need, you are not going to have a satisfied client.

What do you risk if you don’t ask these three questions?

These three questions are core to e-learning project scope definition and client expectation management. Nailing the answers early in your dialog with your potential client’s representatives underlie developing an effective proposal. You will use that proposal, and your client’s belief in it, as the foundation on which you will build the e-learning program.

Not knowing the answers to these questions mean you run the risk of building great e-learning content that does not meet your client’s needs. Do that a few times, and you will pay the price – a poor reputation and a lack of future business, no matter what your skill level as an e-learning content creator.