Guest blog post by Liz Sheffield. Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business.
About five years ago I was part of a project team responsible for an enterprise-wide implementation of a learning management system (LMS). This was no small project – the LMS eventually tracked and delivered training and development content for all employees (100,000+ people) around the globe.
As is true with most complex projects, we had a project manager, Mary, who was assigned to manage our 12-month project. She was responsible for leading a core working team of about 12 people and consulted regularly with the ever-increasing group of stakeholders. She led several meetings each week. She provided us with lists of deliverables and reminded us to submit documents and requirements to the vendor. She tracked progress and identified issues.
Mary wasn’t new to project management. She held Project Management Professional (PMP) and PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMP-ACP) certifications. She knew her way around a Gantt chart, RACI matrix, and could perform a SWOT analysis in her sleep.
But Mary also had soft skill tools in her toolbox that came from years of doing project management work. These are the must-have tools if you’re looking to successfully manage an eLearning project:
An ability to negotiate. Whether you are navigating differences of opinions between stakeholders, balancing competing departmental demands or discussing a modification to the project timeline, your skills as a negotiator will be put to use when managing an eLearning project.
An ability to filter feedback. If you’re responsible for managing an eLearning project, you’ve got to have a thick skin when it comes to receiving constructive feedback. If you take every comment or criticism too seriously, you’ll burn out long before your eLearning content goes live. Receive feedback, evaluate whether or not it’s relevant, and then take action accordingly.
An ability to laugh. It’s rare that a project goes off without a hitch. When something breaks in the eLearning programming, when someone screams, when you think they can’t pay you enough to do this job, it’s best to use your sense of humor. Find something humorous about the situation and you’ll be able to get back to managing the project.
Yes, meetings, deliverables, documents, Gantt Charts, SWOT analyses and requirements are all part of the project management puzzle. But without negotiation skills, a feedback filter and the ability to laugh, your eLearning project management toolbox isn’t complete.