4 Lessons Learned from Launching Skilljar Academy

4 Lessons Learned from Launching Skilljar Academy

September 27, 2017
Training Strategy
Skilljar academy launch.jpg

At Skilljar, we talk a lot about the merits of on-demand customer training, so it was important for us to “drink our own champagne,” and use our product to help our customers. This past summer, we launched Skilljar Academy. In the process, I’ve learned a ton.

Read on for four lessons I learned while creating our very own instance of Skilljar: 

1. Customers demand on-demand training

When I signed on as Skilljar's Training Manager, I had a feeling our customers would be receptive to an online training portal. After all, it’s their jobs to create training programs! However, I never imagined just how eager they would be to take advantage of self-paced learning. We tell our customers about Skilljar Academy as soon as they sign on with us, and since launch, every new customer has logged into our training portal. On top of this, our sales team often shares the link, so many prospective customers are spending time learning, as well. It helps that I have great sales and customer success professionals singing the praises of the Academy, but overall, the data speaks volumes about the need for training that serves learners where they are, when they need it.

2. Launch an MVP

It’s tempting to chase perfection, and I’m a huge proponent of constantly collecting feedback to improve my curriculum. That being said, if you wait for perfection before launching, you put yourself at risk of wasting significant resources - time and money. There is no 'perfect' when it comes to training. Every learner has different needs, your product may change, leaving parts of your content outdated, and oops, your dog barked while you were recording that audio (okay - maybe fix that last one before launch). It’s scary to launch something that is not exactly what you want it to be, but I’ve learned that customers are a valuable part of the development process.

That’s why I’m a huge proponent of launching a minimum viable product (MVP). In software development, an MVP is the product you build that will deliver value to your end user with the least amount of effort. It’s a way to launch something that will drive feedback and help you determine what to do next. With Skilljar Academy in beta, we’ve collected tons of feedback from customers and team members, and we’re laying the groundwork for it to become a better learning experience for our customers with future iterations. In my experience, customers are fine with imperfection and happy to engage with our training materials. I’m so grateful for these contributions. 

3. On-demand training saves my team serious amounts of time

Shortly after launching the Academy, one of our Customer Success Managers (CSMs) came to me with a story about a customer meeting she had just facilitated. The training portal is new, and our CSMs are accustomed to doing virtual live training to onboard every account. After starting to run through the training, the customer stopped her and said he already had a handle on everything she was going through - his team had gone through the on-demand courses and they were confident they had what they needed.

For one, this made me feel great and was just the validation I needed after creating all that content. What she told me next was even better. The conversation then turned to a much more strategic discussion about the approach they were taking with their Skilljar launch. Right then and there, my colleague saved two hours and was able to add value in a meaningful way. 

4. Collect feedback early and often

When programs reach so many of your customers, it turns out, lots of people have opinions and want the opportunity to provide input. After speaking with my manager, I realized I didn’t have a great forum for collecting this input. So, I developed a weekly stakeholders meeting. In the meeting, I brought together members of the company who wanted to be part of the process, shared progress, and heard what they had to say. I collected the feedback in a spreadsheet and kept track of which pieces I implemented over time so I could show them I was listening, and that their input was important to me. This turned out to be a key part of my process. It improved my program and content, and it helped me get broader buy-in across the company.

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