Skilljar’s monthly Coffee Chats showcase different ways customers are using our platform, including demos with special guests. This month’s Customer Education Coffee Chat was hosted by Jen Raphael, Director of Customer Marketing, and Kerynn Metzler, Implementation Manager, at Skilljar, and featured a conversation with Emily Ressler, Training & Content Development Manager at Quorum, on how they fast-tracked their LMS implementation with Skilljar.
Quorum’s public affairs software helps companies with stakeholder engagement, grassroots advocacy, and legislative bill tracking. Their users learn about Quorum through their academy called “Quorum School” powered by Skilljar.
Emily Ressler was hired at the end of September 2021 to create customer education from the ground up at Quorum, specifically, to stand up on-demand e-learning offerings to help reduce the amount of time that CSMs were spending on one-to-one trainings. As a one-person team with no existing learning management system (LMS), minimal pre-existing content, and a goal of launching just after the year-end holiday season, she partnered with Skilljar to fast-track their implementation process.
Quorum had a lot of new users join at the beginning of the year so they needed a scalable resource to help users learn how to use Quorum solutions on their own. The goal was to have a self-serve platform to onboard new customers ready in just three months, launching at the start of the new year in 2022.
While it’s preferable to schedule ample time for an LMS implementation, it’s not always possible due to business needs. Here are Emily’s tips for launching a successful LMS implementation when business goals dictate strict timelines. (Emily also shared the templates she prepared to get the job done. Be sure to access these links throughout the post to save yourself a lot of work if you’re managing an LMS implementation!)
Tips for fast-tracking an LMS implementation:
Tip #1: Push back on the timeline
Like all new hires, Emily wanted to succeed but also knew that the task before her was, in her own words, “impossible” to meet with such a strict timeline. So she approached her leadership and told them she would meet the deadline, but with a pilot program for internal testing only. So they pushed the initial promotional customer launch to the end of January, with a full launch to follow in March. Getting that extra month, according to Emily, was what made the project ultimately successful.
Tip #2: Create a project plan to manage all internal tasks
“It’s always nice to know how other people do their jobs,” Emily shared in the coffee chat, and she was more than generous in sharing how she does hers with attendees. Emily walked attendees through her project plan, which offers a high-level overview of their initial implementation of Skilljar.
For a detailed view into the templates Emily used to execute her project plan, scroll down to the section below, “Developing content for your LMS onboarding launch.”
Tip #3: Build buffer time into the project
Pushing back on the timeline is one thing. But when you are on point to fast-track an LMS implementation, you also need to build some extra time into the process for unanticipated delays, such as holiday vacation schedules.
Emily used glitches in her timeline as opportunities to shift priorities in order to do more in less time. For example, rather than wait until the official kick-off call with Skilljar to start the process, she used this time to take Skilljar’s onboarding courses, which prepared her for when she was actually able to get into the system to load courses. She also used this time to put her project plan together and contact SMEs who would be creating content for her.
Every day counts on a fast-tracked implementation timeline, so make sure to include buffers for timing glitches and make the most of the time you do have in any way possible.
Tip #4: Make things as easy as possible for contributors
Knowing she was pressed for time, Emily set out to identify and document all the SMEs she could find, which was incredibly helpful to her once she officially launched the content process.
“I had an initial meeting with every SME who served as a content creator. I had 12, sixty-minute meetings in one week!”
As part of her project plan, Emily created Subject Matter Expert (SME) documents including Roles & Responsibilities and Interview Questions to help SMEs understand their roles and guide each one through what to include in a course.
Emily created a Roles and Responsibilities document for SMEs…
Meeting with each SME in person made it clear to her that they understood what was asked of them and made it easier for them to deliver the content she needed, and on schedule.
Developing content for your LMS onboarding launch
A big part of Emily’s job as the Training & Content Development Manager at Quorum is creating content, so she wanted to make sure she devoted a lot of attention to this aspect of the project.
- “As a new employee, I knew very little about the Quorum product. So I wanted to make sure that I was getting a lot of perspectives on the overall curriculum design and the best way to break down the courses.”
- “I got feedback from stakeholders across various departments–from the customer success team, which I report to, as well as the product, marketing, and sales teams. This process also enabled me to build relationships across departments, making it easier for me to work with all of the stakeholders involved.”
Emily built out a three-week content creation process as a temporary, short-term strategy for launching content quickly. Her content plan listed all the courses under development with their assigned subject matter experts, as well as the products relevant to each course.
Once the content plan was in place, Emily diagrammed the overall structure for each course. This helped her to brainstorm what content made sense for each course.
This outline was in progress before she had meetings with subject matter experts. She wanted to be prepared and use her time wisely when meeting across teams. The other thing she set out to do was uncover any pre-existing content.
“We had a few old webinars, but I realized very quickly I was going to have to build all of this content from scratch. And that’s where I realized that I was going to need a lot of help.”
This is when Emily went back to leadership to ask for help, a difficult ask being new in the role and for a company that didn’t have any formalized training.
“I had to educate leadership on what a subject matter expert was, why I needed to work with them, and specifically how I needed them to help in this implementation.”
As a result of her planning, templates, and internal buy-in, Emily was able to create 14 hours of new video content in three weeks.
Lessons learned from fast-tracking an LMS implementation
Looking back, Emily offered some lessons learned that could have made a smooth fast-track to implementation even smoother:
- Learn about company culture. “If you are new to a company and implementing an education program for the first time, spend some time really trying to understand how people work on projects at the company. Try to set up face-to-face meetings instead of Zoom, if possible, to create cross-functional relationships.”
- Incentivize participation in your project. “Make sure that your contributors understand why they need to send you the deliverables that you need. Make it clear to their management that part of what they will be evaluated on should be your deliverables for training–it’s that important if you need to fast-track the implementation process.”
- Take time in Skilljar before building your courses. “If you think one of the things you can fast track is your own LMS training, think again! If you build all your courses and then realize you have to change something, you have to go back into each course to make the fix! Completing Skilljar’s onboarding courses and learning how to use the system before you actually go in to build your courses will end up saving you time in the long run–trust me on this one!”
“I highly recommend not just completing Skilljar’s onboarding series, but to really practice building test courses, especially if you are on a really tight timeline.”
Now that Emily has successfully met her goal of getting an initial program for Quorum School up as quickly as possible, she is working on:
- Defining and tracking metrics and using them to inform future content
- Updating content that was initially launched and adding new material
- Documenting the long-term vision for Quorum School
“Now that we have an initial version, I’m taking the time to develop formal processes and really pinpoint our required tech stack so we can scale.”
Don’t forget to click on the included links to access Emily’s templates and use them as a model for building your own. If you are checking out LMSs and thinking about your own implementation, talk to one of our customer training experts. Skilljar customers can email email@example.com if you’d like to demo your unique learning platform to our community.