2018’s 8 Favourite Productivity-Boosting Digital Initiatives
2018 was all about increasing effectiveness and productivity, optimizing resources, and decreasing lead times and overheads. These goals encouraged L&D teams the world over to rethink their strategies, innovate, and come up with creative solutions to age-old problems. Digital initiatives were a significant weapon in teams’ arsenal to help them become more productive. Time- and resource-optimization solutions ranging from templates to device-agnostic mobile learning modules ruled the roost. Through efficiency, creativity and learner-centricity, L&D Departments rose to the challenge and delivered some of the most effective and efficient solutions so far.
As we look back at 2018, we explore 8 of our favourite productivity-boosting digital initiatives that have been at the forefront over the past year.
Building efficiencies using digital processes usually comes down to using the most reliable and effective of strategies; working with templates. As L&D processes were increasingly standardized and incorporated into content and learning management systems, creating flexible and scalable templates became the most powerful time- and cost-saving strategy available to L&D teams. Combining a robust template strategy with bite-sized content and learning pieces made it all the more scalable as combinations of templates allowed L&D teams to compile just-in-time resources to deliver training with minimal lead times.
Project Planning Templates
Templates weren’t just limited to content and training either. Project Management, a critical and strategic component of large-scale L&D setups, also saw an increased influx of the template approach. As more and more cloud-based team collaboration options (like SalesForce, Zoho, and Nimble) became available, creating baseline project plan templates became a powerful way to allow a quick yet structured start to new training initiatives. Incorporating project management methodologies and detailed Work-Breakdown-Structure (WBS) elements into these project plans brought process-driven rigour to project management that cascaded down in a sustained and effective manner to the actual execution of these projects.
With most L&D teams around the world skipping the build-vs-buy conundrum through outsourcing partnerships, vendor selection became a critical component that had to be handled internally by the L&D teams. Parameters like cost and quality were no longer the only deciding factors, as nuanced vendor selection processes looked at technology, domain, and process expertise to find vendors who could work as a seamless extension of the internal learning team. The Request-for-Information (RFI) process also is now being increasingly used to shortlist and maintain a list of preferred vendors, who are then sent the Request-for-Proposal (RFP) when it’s time to find a partner for a specific project.
Automated SCORM Verification
As multiple teams across L&D teams and vendor teams work on creating, verifying, editing, and updating content objects, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain course navigation structures and SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) compliance. However, the move to creating micro-learning objects that have their own metatag structure, and can then be auto-compiled into dynamic course structures based on factors like pre-assessment performance, user profile, or business needs meant that individual course outlines were not required anymore. Each content object was automatically SCORM passed when uploaded, and would then become an integral part of a library of sharable content objects.
Mobile Learning Using BYOD
With the use of such dynamic content libraries that were available for users whenever required, the trend of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) also burgeoned. Users didn’t have to wait to sign into their office PC or laptop to access training. It was available on-demand on their smartphones and laptops. Monitored and controlled through apps that could access L&D content libraries through custom APIs, this took just-in-time learning to the next level. It also made the learning process a lot more organic and pervasive.
The use of content libraries by users is one of the most important factors in determining iterative design and updates. Monitoring usage in terms of access, frequence, repeat use, user ratings, and other actions like sharing or repurposing all contribute towards indicating how relevant and useful content is. This is where L&D teams have brought their A-game or Analytics game to the table, with powerful tracking mechanisms across all content usage. They have used all this data to derive insights that help them constantly refine and evolve the learning process, making it more useful and relevant for the users.
While analytics do provide deep insights into existing content and training, L&D teams constantly have to adapt to and work with new requirements. With technology and global markets requiring constantly-evolving business paradigms, the L&D cycle has been shrinking every year. 2018 saw this pattern accelerating, making it critical for the requirements gathering process to become even robust while being accelerated. L&D teams are now a part of business strategy discussions where upskilling plans are articulated and validated even as business strategy is finalized. This collaborative approach has led to a more efficient and powerful L&D process that is tightly integrated with the business.
With all these efficiencies and changes to the process, the biggest challenge for L&D teams has been capacity management. The teams that have led the pack and set best-in-class standards have done it through identifying and preparing for new roles and responsibilities within their team (or outsourced to vendors) that address these efficiency-building initiatives as planned tasks. The new L&D team now does not just build content and training and deliver it. 2018 saw the definition of the L&D team evolve to become a constantly evolving unit that has pockets of activity dedicated to helping restructure and amplify the L&D process to meet the constantly changing demands of the business and the market. The L&D team now has template specialists, process architects, vendor management teams, app developers, and analytics experts who can constantly help them handle all these new, yet now-integral, components of the L&D process.
2018 set the stage for a more efficient L&D department with the liberal use of digital initiatives. 2019 promises to build on this, leading to yet more out-of-the-box solutions that lean heavily on emergent technologies. As needs grow, so do the technologies that fulfil them. Based on our projections, we can confidently assert that the interweaving of technology and learning is poised to grow astronomically in the coming years. That is now the face of L&D as we enter a new year. We are excited to see how this will evolve further across the next year. Learning is on the information superhighway, and it is zooming into 2019 at breakneck speed.