Solve stakeholder challenges and gain buy-in for new learning technologies
December 14th 2020 | By Morten Bonde
There are two major challenges when you start introducing modern learning technology in your organisation: proving value to stakeholders who own the budgets, and developing buy-in from stakeholders who have no or little interest in quality user experiences and user-led learning.
Don’t ignore the challenges, and don’t try to solve them by showing flash new systems. This solves nothing. Instead, bear in mind that a technology selection process will only be successful when everybody gets behind it. Those who are concerned often work in IT, Risk, Security or Finance, and it is their responsibility to keep their company safe.
So how do you overcome the challenges whilst at the same time selecting a technology that works for both the users and the business? It can feel a bit chaotic at times, but by no means is it impossible. However, it does get a whole lot easier if you follow a good methodical process.
1. Secure business sponsorship
Let’s face it, without senior sponsorship your technology selection project will capsize at some point. Over the course of time new organisational challenges and problems arise and priorities change. You will need somebody with influence to fight your corner when this happens.
2. Gather requirements
Typically, companies start their requirement gathering process by speaking to IT or compliance. This is (not always, but often) where dreams die. Instead, why don’t you speak to those who will actually use the technology? Your key stakeholders are the users, their managers and the learning designers. Once you have an idea about what you need, speak to IT and find the best way of integrating or cloud hosting new technology.
3. Write specifications
Translate the requirements into functional and non-functional specifications. List and group these in a spreadsheet, and add columns describing the priority, quality of the UX, and also a one for adding up scores. Agree the priorities with your key stakeholders.
4. Market research, RFI and RFP
Carry out some initial market research to get an idea about which platforms meet most of your requirements. Update your specifications if needed. Use Google, or get inspiration from reports from for example Gardner, Deloitte or Fosway. Take a deep breath and reflect on the vendor ratings whilst considering things like influence and marketing budgets. Then make a choice and narrow your search to a few technologies. Invite the vendors to respond to an RFI/RFP and arrange a product pitch. You can generate the RFI document based on the specifications you created – just take out the score and priority elements.
5. Sandbox/light-touch test
Now, if you during the end of the previous phase suspect that a great sales pitch might not translate into an easy to use platform, ask the vendors for (sandbox) access to the technology. Invite a few key stakeholders to help you test these and use the specification score sheet to take notes and calculate scores for each functionality grouping. This allows you to compare the technologies. At the end of this process you will find that one or two stands out.
6. Detailed pilot and testing
It is crunch time! This is where you get most of the information for your business case and develop a groundswell of user support. Ask IT to test integrations, security and hosting. Support your learning professionals with developing pilot learning program(s) and gather their feedback on things like speed, ease of use, support from the vendor etc. Finally, ask your users to test the platform and the learning programs. Gather their feedback online and via focus groups. If it is a social platform, get them to contribute to the program by sharing their own content and engaging the other users etc.
7. Business case and platform selection
Analyse the answers from the previous phase and complete a technology recommendation in a business case. Unless you have been really fast, it is likely that politics and challenges have changed since the project kicked off, so get help from senior stakeholders and the business sponsor to position it. Bring the complete business case to the decision makers and get the approval.
No platform is a success until it has been implemented. This takes a lot of effort and time (seriously, this can take years). So have a clear plan, include the key points in the business case, and start executing. This really is a topic in itself, so if I get enough requests, I will share some insights in a later blog
Throughout the process, remember to use the platforms as they are meant to be used! There is a VERY BIG difference between the functionality and design of LMS/LXPs built for informal or formal learning vs. comms (portal/intranet) vs. social platforms vs. AI/ML content curation and recommendation engines.
At the moment there are no systems that can deliver on all of the above, so if you need functionality in several areas, you will have to select multiple tools.
This article was originallly publishd by Morten on LinkedIn on February 7th 2019.
More Solvd Insights
Regular, honest feedback is the foundation of performance management, and a common feature of high performing, motivated teams. Employees also crave regular feedback but unfortunately managers often put off it off, or are unclear when they give it.
January 13th 2021 | By Charlie Kneen
Company values done badly can reenforce groupthink, crush innovation and reward the wrong behaviours. I think this was true in my first L&D role and it’s a mistake I’m not keen to repeat.
November 20th 2020 | By Charlie Kneen
A human-centred approach to learning design can be difficult to justify to colleagues that are used to taking a more conventional approach. Here are 9 reasons to help you explain why speaking with your audience is worth the effort, if you're challenged by less enthusiastic stakeholders.
December 3rd 2020 | By Charlie Kneen
Bees are not just our pollinators and honey producers; they also have much to tell us about the importance of innovation in businesses.
October 19th 2019 | By Charlie Kneen
We use interviews in the Discover phase of design thinking and 5Di to explore a problem in greater depth. This guide provides practical advice on preparing for and conducting a good discovery interview.
January 22nd 2021 | By Charlie Kneen