How to engage your LMS project stakeholders
LMS project stakeholders are critical – for any LMS rollout project to be successful, stakeholders need to be engaged. While there is a significant literature that has been written around stakeholder management, it is often a challenge to understand precisely how it is to be done.
The key insight in stakeholder management is understanding that each stakeholder falls into one or more buckets, which include the following:
- Senior Management
- Budget Sponsors
- Line Managers
- Training Staff
Once you understand the broad categories of buckets, you can then tailor-craft your message to each group, using the language of benefit points particularly applicable to them.
Do you have a nifty return on investment analysis spreadsheet that provides a fantastic argument for rolling out your Learning Management System? Super. But you are not likely to be mentioning that to your learners, to whom such considerations are peripheral if not irrelevant.
On the other hand, that is definitely going to be an argument you’re going to be making to senior management and budget sponsors.
In this article, we are going to briefly cover the key messages and benefit targets for each one of these groups, which will be a key to your engagement. With that in mind, let’s discuss the categories more specifically.
Figuring out what senior managers want to hear is easy – once you understand what senior managers are interested in.
These can be broken out into three separate areas:
- Alignment to objectives: Senior managers are, obviously, focused on achieving their business objectives. If rapid eLearning can help achieve these objectives, then the business case for rapid eLearning has been made.
- Delivery speed: Attaining objectives is one thing, but obtaining them quickly as another. All senior managers want to obtain their objectives as quickly as they can.
- Return on Investment (ROI): Have you have given serious consideration to the costs and benefits of your rollout? If not, that’s job one. Producing the ROI analysis is going to be an essential way to bring these sponsors on board.
Budget sponsors are basically in the same bucket as senior management, but the most important angle here is return on investment. Take any lessons learned with senior management and apply them here.
For obvious reasons, line managers should be engaged early in the process, and here are the messages to send:
- Increased productivity: Line managers don’t want to lose staff time to training, so explain how the asynchronous nature of eLearning fits into that paradigm. Because eLearning also functions as a performance support tool, it is has a double argument in favour of it that is hard to object to.
- Focus: Explain to the line managers how the training that is going to be rolled out will be precisely on point to what they are looking for.
- Tactical Objective Alignment: Explain that the rollout will help the line managers achieve whatever tactical objectives they have, such as increasing their levels of cross-selling, or providing a rejection in error rates. If you explain that eLearning will help line managers meet their performance targets, you’ve basically crossed the line you need to.
Learners aren’t chopped liver, they are the reason you are rolling out the training, and consequently, what they think counts. And counts for a lot.
So consider your learners some of your most key stakeholders, and transmit these messages:
- Time savings: Learners don’t need to spend their valuable time away from their job in classroom sessions, they can do their training at their desks, in whatever downtime they have.
- Professional development opportunities: Associating increase learning with promotions and increase wages is a great way to get the viable “buy-in” you need from the learners.
The training staff currently on board may be threatened by your eLearning rollout. For example, they may believe that the organisation will need less staff to provide classroom training, and could perceive their skills as being devalued or threatened. This group is plausibly the one to most likely act as obstacles to your rollout if the eLearning is not positioned carefully.
Here are two angles of communication:
- Opportunities for supplementing and tutoring: Trainers can use their skills to support the rollout. By acting as tutors and/or mentors, the training staff can develop their careers, adding new skills to their arsenal. They can also supplement the training with their own personal touch.
- Reduced reliance on vendors: Reducing reliance on external vendors for production can lead to greater opportunities for in-house development of training, and further opportunities to supplement and tutor.
Rolling out your Learning Management System is no trivial act, and engaging your stakeholders is key. So plan accordingly and make sure your messages are on point with what your stakeholders want to hear.