Agile Techniques for Training Development

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Training is essential to ensure everyone knows what to do. To position yourself as a flexible training project manager, demonstrate your ability to adapt to changing environments. The traditional analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate project life cycle for training closely mirrors the waterfall life cycle employed by software developers. This approach may result in challenges and limitations due to the typically linear training development environment. It may not work.

If you need agility and speed, consider adaptive methods instead of traditional ones. Rather than planning the whole project up front, focus on faster iterations and smaller deployments. Seek feedback earlier, and incorporate ideas into succeeding releases. This approach results in usable materials sooner. These training materials tend to provide more meaning to students, as well, because the materials are timely. Then, improve successively from one release to the next.

Highest Priority Done First:

When developing training, resist the temptation to create all scripts and storyboards before conducting your first pilot. Instead, get the modules that represent the highest priority done first and deliver them fast. Seek and assimilate feedback from a wide variety of reviewers for the next iteration. This continuous process of improvement typically results in a better end product. It does require more effort, however. Still, there are benefits.

If you work in a chaotic environment, demonstrating short-term success can impose a bit of order. Otherwise, you may thrash around for awhile only to find that requirements have changed by the time you get started on development. Waiting for stakeholder and user input at the end of the project usually results in missed expectations and failed projects.

Training plans often fall to the bottom of people’s priority list, so getting everyone to commit time regularly and frequently can be challenging. The continuous collaboration between stakeholders, training developers, and learners produces great results, however.

Frequent Inspection and Adaptation:

In a chaotic, unpredictable work environment, self-organizing functional teams can succeed where traditional project management strategies fail. Frequent inspection and adaptation prevent high-cost overruns. Mistakes are found early. Difficult conversations are conducted before they become a bigger conflict. Scrum, a lightweight process framework subset of Agile, defines the best practices to follow. Development cycles called sprints maximize the amount of productive time. Roles get defined to manage complex training development, using iterative and incremental practices. Each person’s role becomes crystal clear. Then, each sprint gets set to have a specific duration of time, known as a time box.

In summary, using Agile project management techniques such as Scrum, you can increase productivity and reduce the time it takes to produce a training project. When you have rapidly-changing requirements and evolving business goals, this approach helps you enhance the quality of the training materials, cope with constant change and provide better estimates by working with smaller sub-projects. This strategy helps you feel more in control, and the training team’s morale improves too. Of course, the high degree of learner involvement in the training project development life cycle may not be possible for some environments. Adapt these processes so they work for your particular situation and priorities.

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