Project Management Tips for Geographically Dispersed eLearning Teams

Project Management Tips for Geographically Dispersed eLearning Teams

When working with eLearning teams, or any team for that matter, teamwork and collaboration are an essential for success. While collaboration is certainly not something you pluck off Walmart’s shelves whenever the need for it arises, there are tried-and-proven ways to make collaboration easier for teams, especially those with members domiciled across various locations in the world.

It’s the obvious that normally gets overlooked, and sometimes, too much of the “begin with the end in mind” mindset makes key people forget that an environment conducive to collaboration is as important to get their teams excited about crafting world-class digital learning products.

Here are 5 project management tips to consider when encouraging collaboration and boosting overall productivity within eLearning teams:

1. Centralize tasks, discussions, and documents

A single platform for all discussions, tasks, and relevant documents is an imperative, as the creation of digital learning products involves multiple, often remotely located parties, like subject matter experts, designers, content approvers, and so on. Maintaining a central repository to access all the relevant information they need to carry out their tasks ensures smooth process flow.

The online course development process normally requires several key roles, which can also be fulfilled by just a few talented individuals, depending on the composition of your team:

  • Project manager
  • Instructional designer
  • Editor
  • Graphic artist
  • Creative director
  • Technical developer/authoring tools specialist
  • Voice-over talent
  • Multimedia specialist
  • Tester
  • Quality assurance specialist

Task clarity and the dependencies tied to each task are two other important points. The ability to access a chart that details every task, complete with description, updates, deadlines, files and attachments ensures everyone is on the right track. Task ambiguity causes chaos, missed deadlines, duplicate work, and worst of all, low team morale.

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2. Ensure process transparency and clearly defined task handovers

Defining priorities and the right sequence of activities are the first steps that need to be mapped out when working with eLearning teams. The next step is the execution of the designed workflow, making sure the process doesn't break at points where some tasks have been completed but require action from other members of the team, like approval or further discussion.

This article shares seven key ingredients to successful project execution and completion.

3. Use collaboration tools

Cloud-based collaboration tools require solid Internet connection to properly work, which is becoming more and more widely available worldwide, and under the right conditions, facilitate effective collaboration within the team and with external staffers (e.g. third-party multimedia teams to create interactive videos or simulators).

The key here is the unified workspace for all stakeholders and team members where they can jointly work on shared items, or have new people join discussions without the need to read through unrelated emails.

Document versioning and document management are equally important as well. With the right collaboration tool, your team always works on the latest document version, regardless of whether the file was updated by Joe last night or by Lindsey early this morning, and no copies or data sources are lost in the system or email threads.

4. Enable mobility to boost efficiency

There are now more mobile devices on the planet than humans, which highlights people’s growing dependence on their phones and mobile devices to get more things done, whether these things be personal or work-related.

For eLearning course development teams, access to work on the go is beneficial in several ways:

  • Automated notifications pushed on smartphones keep team members aware of deadlines and informed of important updates and approvals.
  • Urgent workflow approvals can be done by instructional designers, or other designated approvers, even during commutes or a trip to the water cooler, saving time and ensuring the process flow doesn’t unnecessarily break, more so if several other tasks get set aside without the approval.

5. Revamp workflow processes where necessary

As is oftentimes the case, once the online course development process is set up and the team starts working, immediately, gaps and nice-to-haves become evident. Or with time and numerous iterations, you realize that changes have to be made to the existing workflow.

Continuous process optimization is vital to greatly improve efficiency, particularly in areas such as resource management, scheduling, tasks delegation, and so on.

Conclusion

As the eLearning team manager or owner, it’s your job to provide your team with the requisite tools and environment to collaboratively work. This allows individual team members to put their abilities to good use and focus on what they do best, without worrying about the mundane but important aspects like documentation, versioning, and notifications.

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