Who owns your learning content?
Where’s your investment?
I have been working with a customer recently looking at their education challenges. It has been an interesting engagement with some predictable feedback and some surprises too. One of the challenges that emerged was ownership of the training content. In many organisations this is a grey area that falls between the cracks.
Many years ago I worked on a large SAP project with a team of contract training developers in which the company spent a good amount of money on the development of training. This was intended to serve their end user base up to and after go-live i.e. materials that would transition into the business as usual world for new starters and those changing roles. As one would expect, the training development team did a careful handover of all the materials before leaving. Six months later I received a call from someone I didn’t even know in the organisation asking me if I knew where their training materials were. No one had owned them or maintained them – or even kept track of their location – so all that investment was potentially lost. I never heard back from them but I hope they found the missing materials.
There various reasons why ownership needs to be clear
- There is no danger of material getting lost and your investment wasted
- To ensure training is carefully updated when any changes to the processes or systems are made; that way people can use the material confidently knowing it is accurate and current; if they don’t trust it they don’t use it and the investment is also wasted
- One group of people is responsible and so you don’t end up with multiple versions of the information, each with slightly differing instructions
But who should the owner be?
Some people think the process owners or system designers should own the education. I disagree; they are the fact-holders and should certainly review learning material. However, they are rarely learning specialists and are usually too close to the detail. The training development team is comprised of people expert in communicating information in such a way that people understand it, retain it and most importantly can use it. They produce it with the end user in mind, in the end user’s language avoiding off-putting jargon and focusing on what people really need to know. There should be a clear, documented method for process and system changes being communicated to the training team. They should decide what needs to be communicated and how and they can update the materials and ensure the end users can access the updated learning.
So give the ownership to the education specialists – this may sit in L & D, in an ongoing programme, in the Centre of Excellence or somewhere else but wherever it sits, give it to the learning experts.
Transition from project to BAU
The time this process usually falls through the cracks is during the transition from the project to BAU. Generally the project has a budget for training and focuses all its efforts on getting to go-live and out of hypercare – everyone is tremendously interested on the statistics for training attendance during this period.
After go-live the materials all need to be updated – to remove any reference to changes from “as is” to “to be” and to make improvements that were noted during the initial training deployment. These should then form part of the curricula for new joiners/movers. Ownership of the materials and the process for updating them when something changes established at this point. If there language or other localisation requirements and the master documentation is issued to markets for local changes to be made then you will have a situation where there are multiple (legitimate) versions of material on any particular topic and. In this case the update process should include a clear instruction for the retirement and removal of out of date versions.
Support from technology
One of the best ways to handle business as usual updates and ensure that users are aware of the changes is with WPB’s Navigator feature. Rather than simply sending emails telling people about the changes that are coming and pointing them to updated training material, you can push the training to them directly at the point of need in the system. i.e. they may be working on a particular task and if there is a new field or a new button, the new instruction appears in the SAP window (of course this software works with other systems too). User don’t have to leave SAP to go and find the information as it’s right there. Read about WPB and the Navigator feature in this article Innovative Approaches to Cloud, Mobile and Social Learning.