Ask an Expert: How to Keep Your Training Development Project On-Track
Are you a learning development professional working on developing a new employee onboarding training, a reskilling program, or updating content for upskilling programs? Get these tips to spot potential problems and keep your project on-track from experts at AllenComm, a top training company with more than 40 years of experience in learning design, development, and project management.
Project management during training development is complex. Juggling timelines, tasks, and priorities takes skill, and even the most well-thought-out plan can go awry – costing time, budget, and other vital resources. It’s crucial to keep a pulse on all parts of a project, and when things do go wrong, to work hard to bring everything back into alignment.
How to Spot Potential Issues
To realign a project, you must identify the issues driving your project’s misalignment. The issues can be as simple as a missed deadline, or as complicated as changing direction midway through development. Often, when a project feels out of control, there are many issues at play. Regardless of the scope, it is useful to take a step back and consider everything you know about key elements of your project, such as:
- Goals and requirements;
- Project team members and tasks;
- Overall timeline and key progress dates; and
- Resources allocated originally and what resources remain.
Once you have identified these elements, it is easier to narrow your scope find the pain points. Is a communication issue between team members causing a timeline delay? Is there disagreement between stakeholders on what the training should include, or some other issue? Have enough resources been allocated for the project, and if not, what can be done? Which requirements are critical to meet and are they being prioritized?
Not all project issues will be within your ability to fix, and if so, you’ll have to determine ways to work around them. Still, identifying all issues early and clearly is vital if you wish to develop a viable realignment plan.
How to Bring Your Project Back into Alignment
Once you’ve identified the issues with your project, you need a plan to address them. Prioritize the most important actions and decide how they should be accomplished. The good news? If potential problems are recognized early enough, most projects can be brought back into alignment with relative ease.
However, it’s important not to rush the development of your plan for the sake of keeping to a timeline. Take the time to ensure you are addressing all of the issues at hand. This could include making potentially difficult decisions, such as cutting part of a project, reassigning roles, extending a timeline, or perhaps even putting the project on hold. Whatever you do, be sure to keep the key elements of your project in mind. For example, do not divert resources to quickly mitigate an issue now if it means there won’t be enough to complete the project later. Take a holistic view.
Determining and then following the best course of action – no matter the training, whether you’re developing onboarding, reskilling, or another type – will almost certainly involve speaking with team members and stakeholders. Carefully consider how best to communicate with everyone and bring them all back on track. Holding a formal or informal meeting, group messaging, email, or even a shared notes document can all be part of this process. If a particular person on the team holds some responsibility for your project’s issues, talk privately and brainstorm ways to improve.
In remote or hybrid work environments, you’ll need to make additional considerations for any asynchronous or threaded communications, such as accommodating differing time zones or ensuring everyone is on an important email chain. These communications should be continuous, to ensure the project remains on track after being realigned.
Once a project has been realigned, you should evaluate what went wrong and strategize preventative measures. For example, if there was a significant mismatch between the resources your project needed and what was allocated, you should try to determine where and why this mismatch occurred to prevent it from happening again.
Best Practices for Project Management
There are some general actions that are often critical for keeping any training development project on track. The first is regular status updates both within your team and to stakeholders. The second is ensuring all team members know their roles, responsibilities, and project requirements. These, in conjunction with proactive recognition and troubleshooting of project issues, will ensure your team is able to successfully complete their projects according to plan.