Many organisations know that they need to move their processes, policies and training online. They know that they will benefit from this digitisation process in the long run through a variety of key outcomes, including:
Improved efficiency for ongoing knowledge management
Improved efficiency for learners accessing internal knowledge
A single-source-of-truth about organisational management
Reduced errors and improved quality of work as learners follow proven methods
Reduced delay in new employees becoming productive
Reduced risks for the organisation as training can now be tracked and monitored
However, in the short term, the effort involved in converting existing training materials, or the time required to plan out new training to be created, can feel overwhelming. Like many valuable investments, the upfront cost feels very real and near, while the future benefit feels intangible and far.
In this article, we review several strategies to help reduce the immediate effort levels required to create or convert training and bring forward some of the future benefits from your work - to create a more immediate return on investment.
1 - Define many success milestones
A key step most organisations overlook is to define success for their new training platform. Without a clear definition of success, the implementation of a new training platform can feel unending - there's always more to do.
A better approach is to set a series of success milestones, spread out over a reasonable period. You may need to ask questions such as:
What training, if converted and moved online, gives the most beneficial impact?
What training is easy to move online?
What is an appropriate order to move or convert training to online or blended?
Does it make sense to prioritise certain topics or teams first?
Remember that the implementation of a new training platform is a change management exercise - for the organisation, the platform administrators / trainers but, most importantly, for your learners! Your learners don't need 50 new training courses on day 1! They have many other tasks to complete and, for some learners, the change to online or blended learning will take some adjustment. So start with an appropriate amount of training content to allow your learners to adjust to new processes.
It's not a race. Define your initial success measure for the first, say, three months and then for every 3-6 months after that.
2 - Scope just enough training
Once you have determined your initial success measures, scope out 'just enough' training to achieve that success.
For example, if your initial success measure is to replace manually graded quizzes with online modules with automated grading, then just focus on that part. You may still run the theory components of that training as you used to (say, in a workshop) but just move the assessment part to an online module. You can move all the theory components to online self-paced learning later.
Another useful strategy at this point is to do 'one of each' rather than 'all of one'. If you have, say, several different types of training - some compliance training, some internal processes, some personal skills training and so on - it can be handy in phase one to do just a little of each (often with different groups of learners). This allows the organisation to obtain feedback and learnings from a range of training. You can see where the big wins came from and identify which areas might require the most work. This can help you to adjust your next set of success measures.
For example, if compliance is one of your key areas of training, then you don't need to roll out 15 compliance modules on day 1. Just start with 3-4 compliance modules, and then perhaps 3-5 modules in other streams for other learners. Obtain feedback from your learners on the compliance modules, the due dates you set, the level of notifications, the difficulty of the modules. Then roll out another 3-5 compliance modules in the second wave, incorporating feedback from the first round. You'll get to your 15 compliance modules soon enough and help bring your learners on the journey along the way.
3 - Look for easy wins
Another way to help with the 'just enough' process is to look for some easy wins - some content that is very easy to create or convert.
A first example is compliance policies. It can be very easy to create a module that contains your existing compliance policies, makes them available for download and review by learners and then captures their acceptance of that policy. These modules create <15 minutes to completely create (your Tribal Habits implementation team can provide you with templates and examples to further accelerate the process). You get an easy win of a single source of policies and recorded acceptances.
Another example is webinar recordings. Many organisations have been running Zoom or Teams based training sessions over the last few years. If you have been recording those sessions, it's easy to build modules based on those recordings. Making those recordings available in your training platform for new starters, people who missed the initial sessions or existing staff wanting to refresh. Access to these recordings is now secure and trackable too. With just a little extra effort, you could add a download of slides or other materials used in the session, or perhaps 4-5 short quizzes on core concepts to ensure participants were paying attention!
4 - Take an iterative approach
Expanding on idea 3, another important strategy is iteration.
Let's take the example of a webinar recording. Your first version of the module might be nothing more than the recording itself, perhaps cut into a series of shorter videos. So that 60-minute webinar might become 6 x 10-minute videos in an online module. You might add a copy of the slides for download.
A month later, you can revisit that module and add 2-3 quiz questions after each video. You might also highlight some key points under each video (in Tribal Habits, you might use the Insight block to highlight important concepts or common mistakes covered in the video).
A few months after that, you may return for version 3. Now you might actually replace one of the videos - probably the one with the least on-screen movement or action. You may instead turn that content into self-paced learning, rebuilding the concepts with interactions (in Tribal Habits, you might use a variety of layouts in the Interact element or perhaps create a replacement Narration).
Through this process, you are both reducing the upfront effort and allowing improvements to the module as you obtain learner feedback and grow your skills in creating online training.
5 - Seek early expert feedback
Another hurdle at an individual level is the uncertainty as to whether your first online training modules are 'good enough'. Sometimes, you can end up fussing with a module that was really 'good enough' for version one some time ago, but you end up spending a few more hours tinkering with it. There is where getting a fresh set of eyes can really help.
A simple way to do this is to be a little less cautious. Create your first version of a module and then ask a colleague (ideally someone with experience in the content who can be representative of learners) to complete the module. Ask them 'Do you think the module has enough content to get started?'.
If yes, then you are done! Ask for their feedback and improvements on the existing content to complete the module and then launch with a pilot group.
If no, then ask specifically for what is missing and just add that (along with the tidy up of the existing content).
Then ask your colleague 'What else might we cover on this topic in the future?'. You can then save that information for the next version. Indeed, it may not even be the next version of this module but a 'Part 2' or 'Advanced content' module.
In Tribal Habits, another option is to request your free expert review of your new module. Remember that every module you create in Tribal Habits can receive a free 10-minute video review from our of our experts. This review is delivered within three business days and gives you personalised feedback about your module. Is it too long, too short, too complex, too passive? Could you improve the layouts, interaction or transfer of content? Are all your settings correct? Importantly: Have you done 'enough' to launch. Getting this feedback from our experts will supercharge your module and reassure you that its good to go.
Keep in mind that a good 30-minute module is 'enough'. That can give a learner weeks of ideas and skills to improve. They will then look forward to returning for Part 2 at a later date. This is particularly true for content that asks a learner to change - to implement new skills or processes. You don't want to overwhelm your learners with too many changes at once. Allow them to implement smaller content well and more frequently, then feel overwhelmed themselves when facing irregular larger content.
6 - Don't aim for perfection
Expanding on the preview idea, it's never a good idea to aim for perfection with training.
Training modules are never finished. There is always a way to tweak or improve content. They are unfinished artworks, constantly evolving over time. They will never be perfect.
Aim instead for improvement. Revisit your modules every 3-6 months and spend 30-60 minutes improving them, rather than wasting hours and hours upfront aiming for perfection without the benefits of learner feedback.
7 - Tap into ready-made modules
Let's now return to points 1-3 - setting success measures and looking for easy wins. Here's an easy win: don't create all the training yourself!
Instead, tap into some ready-made training content that can complement some custom training modules you are creating in points 4-6. Compliance is a good example of this. Perhaps you did create that policy module from the example in point three. So now complement it with 3-4 ready-made compliance modules from the learning library in your portal. That content should be editable by your organisation too (and in Tribal Habits, the module would also be automatically in your branding), so you can import a module and spend 60 minutes reviewing and editing it. Bingo - a complete module ready to go!
You could also pull another 10-15 modules from the ready-made library and set them up in a training catalogue for learners to self-enrol. This may include topics on more universal skills, like productivity, communication or inclusivity. It's 30 minutes of work to import some content and add to a catalogue to bulk up your early efforts.
8 - Get help converting content
Finally, consider getting some expert help. If you have identified that the conversion of a certain workshop into self-paced online training would be a big win, but you are feeling a little inexperienced or overwhelmed at the start, then get an expert to help.
At Tribal Habits, for example, we regularly convert slides and workbooks into version one topics for new organisations. Our experts can complete these conversions very quickly and at a very low cost. Considering there are no set-up costs for the platform, you may instead put the budget you had set aside for set-up costs into some initial conversion work.
Our teams convert your content using all their expertise - creating interactions, quizzes, images and more. You end up with a version one module in a few days, fully branded and ready to go. Since you can edit all content in your Tribal Habits platform, you can then continue improving the module over time (points 5-6) without any further cost. If this sounds useful, simply reach out to support to discuss your content and obtain a quote for the conversion (hint: it's about 10% of typical elearning development costs).
It is true that there is some effort in setting up a new learning platform. But anything of value requires some effort to obtain!
The key is to manage your effort so that it is not entirely upfront. Set your success measures over a reasonable period and then identify the minimum amount of training required to achieve your first success measure
From there, avoid perfection and instead focus on improvement. Adopt a mindset of continuous improvement to improve the efficiency of your work. Where you can, look for the easy wins too:
Start with simple existing content - policies or videos
Grab ready-made modules from your platform's library (ideally editable and in your branding)
Ask for some expert help in reviewing or converting your content
Finally, return to the very start of this article and review the benefits of a training platform. If you can manage the upfront effort and accelerate some of those benefits, you'll soon have the momentum to continue iterating and adding to your platform and driving an extremely worthwhile return on your investment.