Are you getting ready to implement a major learning management system (LMS) or elearning strategic plan? You can measure your readiness using our scorecard. It’s a time-tested gauge we created thanks to a long history of small to large program rollouts.

We’ve noted patterns of success (what works and what doesn’t) from our projects with many professional education programs. And, even though we’ve still seen success when only one of these factors wasn’t evident, there are five factors which consistently appear together among some of our most successful learning program implementations and strategic rollouts.

It’s also worth noting these key traits for a successful team operation are gathered from our experience witnessing real client initiatives during the past 10 years. This includes dozens of enterprise LMS implementations, major new certification program releases, and a bevy of strategic education product releases.

Here are the 5 qualities which remain consistent when an LMS project rollout works and, more importantly, is sustained:

1. Clarity: A clear-and-near deadline for launch.
2. Muscle: An education executive as sponsor.
3. Field General: A client-side project leader with flexibility, humility and confidence.
4. Happy Marriage: A collaborative and complementary union between IT and key stakeholders.
5. Top Shelf Content: Targeted content to drive initial usage.

Clarity. Success comes with focus. A clear (and reasonable) deadline, which doesn’t allow either your vendor or you to waiver, will help keep both sides narrowly aligned with an initial launch. This specifically defines a minimal viable product, or MVP, to deliver the highest priorities within the first three months.

Muscle. It’s vital your online learning program is perceived at the strategic level. A champion’s voice must represent it to the C-level executive team and board. Your education team is charged with properly representing any issues, or worse, failure. You may enlist executives as sponsors, but only if they are from other departments, such as finance or IT. It’s okay, and important, to have your CFO or CIO on board. However, neither can be the primary driver to lead sustainable success. Why? The program will constantly need justification and analysis, and this is best positioned from the perspective of an education executive.

Field general. For every successful program, you need a battle-tested general to bring together your internal teams and march toward a common goal. This is not necessarily an education or IT person, but typically a diplomat and liaison bringing together all the work and decisions which need to be made from the client side.

It’s been our experience this person is trusted and liked within the organization at a level which allows him or her to steward the project and gather resources. Your project leader must have a clear understanding of the overall goals and help facilitate decisions from the client side, but not necessarily serve as the person to make the decisions. Just the one to sustain momentum by driving decision-making.

Happy marriage. No program succeeds with a surprise notice to IT late during the implementation process. Senior IT stakeholders need to sign off on your plan and be a critical partner during its incubation. IT empowers your efforts and are a critical component for resourcing staff. They can also help track a vendor’s movements to ensure they are aligned with IT best practices.

Just as important are the marketers and related stakeholders to promote and communicate your rollout. Immediately engage these departments from the start to make sure an effective marketing and communication plan is developed. You need their unique perspective throughout the process to support key steps, such as branding, styling, promotion and messaging, and keep them aligned with objectives.

Top shelf content. Whether it’s an LMS rollout you’re prepping for or a major strategic education rollout on your existing learning management system, initially, it’s important to identify targeted content to deliver to your learners. By “top shelf,” we mean of the highest quality. But, this doesn’t mean of the highest development costs. Instead, focus on providing the “highest quality” and “highest relevance” to your audience. Find content which matters. Don’t make the mistake like many organizations of offering your industry’s version of Amazon.com to gain visitors. When you do, you underestimate your audience’s sense of practicality and consumer experience. It’s better to evolve rather than over-promise.

A scorecard.
So, by no means is this an exhaustive list, or even a list at all. These are qualities you must hone in on which are invariably present in any learning management system implementation we’ve witnessed have great success from its launch. Also, these are valuable for sustained success as you meet the ongoing challenges of a dynamic world of education irrespective of the industry you serve.

Are you ready now to implement your major learning management system or elearning strategic plan? Let’s talk first.