In the first parts of this series, I talked about the value of having a Learning & Adoption Strategy in place early and discussing the questions of WHO and WHERE we should be informing and training. In today’s blog, I would like to take a close look at the learning and adoption timeline, the milestones, and discuss these in the context of the overarching implementation project plan. WHEN should we run our information and motivation campaigns and our trainings?
In the past we have seen that implementation project plans have often been created without considering the learning and adoption work stream properly. Or, if a training work stream was considered, only generic tasks like “training” are added not aligned to other project work streams.
It is important to consider Learning & Adoption tasks and milestones in the overall project plan right from the beginning. It’s one of the major mistakes in project plans seeing the “training” tasks only related to end-users and considering these tasks standalone at the end of the project. As to be seen in the picture below there are considerable Learning & Adoption activities right in the beginning of a project:
The training milestones should be aligned to the project set-up and implementation tasks as well as the go-live. As a best practice we theoretically split the overall project into 3 phases and ask the typical questions:
With this 3-phase-structure the Learning & Adoption Strategy considers the different teams to be prepared for supporting the project, e.g. the client’s specialists are meant to be a part of the new process definition or the testing team. Finding the project teams (WHO-question at the 3 phases) the project related milestones in these phases can easily be named. In general, we are considering the following teams:
Even if these teams have much less personnel than the later end-users they need to be considered due to their major impact on the project success. Only by naming and considering these teams the Learning & Adoption milestones can be listed and aligned to the overall project plan.
Some major project milestones with direct impact to training milestones are:
|Learning & Adoption Milestone||Related/influencing Project Milestone||Note|
|Learning & Adoption Strategy Start||Project Start||L&A Strategy should be part of the project set-up, definition and planning.|
|Project Kick-Off||Project Kick-Off||Should be part of the adoption program.|
|Training Material Editing||Technical Code Freeze||Technical and process implementations should be finished before course customization starts. In practice, the training material customization starts before the code freeze.|
|Training Environment Ready||Technical Code Freeze||The final training environment is needed for aligning the training material use cases or screenshots with the environment used e.g. in lab exercises.|
|Training Editorial Deadline||No direct impact from other project milestones. Important for the following training milestones.|
|Training Material Printing & Shipping||Go-Live||Ca. 2 weeks are needed for training material printing and shipping. Calculate sufficient time for printing and shipping. Consider extended time needed for shipping to other countries!|
|Training Room Preparation||Go-Live||Even if the preparation for already existing training rooms may be a marginal task, there is only a short time-window for preparing the rooms before training starts. Each day a training room is not set-up properly can waist 10 working days from the users!|
|Train-the-Trainer||Go-Live||There is only a short time-window between the finished training material and the first trainings. Any TtT session should be planned early enough … and don´t forget the trainer’s trainer, a room and a training environment!|
|Training Start||Go-Live||This milestone is one of the most important milestones with impact to other decisions. Consider the number of trainings to be delivered in the time window and the resulting number of trainers or rooms!|
|User Support Start||Go-Live||The user support start can be defined as a date and a real milestone. In practice, we often realize that not all users start working on the new system at the actual go-live date because of processes, different local start dates or by users’ fear during the first days. Consider an increasing user support for the first days or weeks as an “extended” milestone.|
|User Support End||Go-Live||Another extended milestone: a decreasing user support team follows the practice of decreasing user requests. There is a milestone where the project-related user support is ended and softly passing over to the daily business of user support.|
Tip: In project plans, create a dependency from technical tasks to training tasks. If technical tasks will be delayed the training tasks should be delayed as well!
Tip: In the project plans, add the training tasks to the critical path. If training task prerequisites failed in keeping their deadline the training work stream should not be made responsible for keeping the go-live date!
One of the most important relations between the technical implementation work stream and the training work stream is the milestone of “Training Environment Ready”. A simple calculation of this milestone is:
training hot phase duration = training phase + trainer and classroom prep + training material prep
In the simplified example below we can easily calculate the milestone of the “Technical Code Freeze” as related input parameter for the training hot phase:
Calculation of milestone of the “Technical Code Freeze”:
This calculation is one of the first estimates done in a Learning & Adoption Strategy. In later project phases, this calculation will be verified and detailed, based on other decisions.
It is essential for a successful project to consider the critical path of the training “hot phase” in the overall project plan. The more client-specific implementation and customization is needed the more user-specific training material needs to be prepared. Not to mention the time needed for translating the training material in international projects!
There are adoption milestones in parallel to training milestones. Even if the adoption tasks are very important for a valuable and successful implementation, these milestones for informing and motivating users and managers normally don´t have a direct impact on the go-live and are not in the critical project path. Examples for adoption milestones are
Learning & Adoption Milestones in Practice
In practice, it sometimes happens that even major milestones from the technical or process implementation are not met. The training team can absorb some time delays but only with additional resources and budget. For example, if the technical implementation is late. In this case, the training material preparation can start or being continued if already started. But finished training material needs to be reviewed and updated to represent the latest technical changes so the users can be trained according to the actual system.
In order not to delay the training milestone of the editorial deadline, additional authors need to be staffed on a short term and additional budget for review and rework tasks is needed.
Tip: Consider there are a maximum number of authors to work in parallel based on different technical topics or other editorial tasks like the translation.
Tip: Consider the author’s ramp-up time and support from the technical team if questions come up.
Note: You cannot add any number of authors for training material creation to compress this task!
Learning & Adoption Questions and Decisions Influencing Each Other
In a Learning & Adoption Strategy the decisions influence each other. When it comes to the WHEN considering the milestones, work packages and timelines aligned to other project milestones, some decisions of WHO, WHERE or HOW may need an update. So the definition of WHEN shall never been seen as a standalone task.
Summary for the WHEN in a Learning & Adoption Strategy
Here are some tips to consider the WHEN defining the milestones in a Learning & Adoption Strategy:
The milestones defined in a Learning & Adoption Strategy share the same importance as the milestones for the implementation or the data migration. Only well-trained, informed, motivated and supported users will contribute to the aspired project success and value. Without defined and monitored Learning & Adoption milestones the project success is at risk from the start.
In Part 5 of this article, we will talk about the next detail of a Learning & Adoption Strategy considering the training content or curriculum (WHAT).