Improving your development processes

For many organisations, a development process includes just the core of the product development cycle – the initial concepts or storyboards through to final deployment. But there are wider considerations within any development cycle that need to be addressed if you want to ensure your development process is the best it can be. There are a number of factors that sit around the development process that flow in and out that are equally important as the operational side of development.

Before you begin to develop your learning content, you need to know how it is going to fit within the organisational strategy. Your starting point for online content development should be to ask yourself questions like: can I explain how what I am doing fits into wider organisational strategy? Do I have clear benchmarks for what counts as success, and are these also aligned to organisational strategies?

At the other end of the spectrum is a focus on the end point – do you have a clear vision for how you will delivery our programme of learning? Make sure you have the right team of people to help you get there, the right delivery platform, and that you know how your learners are going to access and complete the learning before you begin.

If your development represents a departure from business-as-usual, you need to address how you will manage the change. Do you have systems and processes in place that support the change? It might be that you are bringing in new tools or new ways of working (partnering with an external vendor on eLearning development for example) that you will need to consider.

Making sure everyone knows what is happening, and how their role fits within the whole is crucial. Communications with key stakeholders about the development programme before you begin means that you get buy-in, that you get input and feedback before you are too far in, and that other support systems are ready for you when you need them (does IT know you want to roll out new software to support your development?).

Finally, make sure your learning is sustainable. This speaks to both delivery, and to evaluation. You will only know if you achieved your goals if you are able to measure the impact of your learning. If you are able to show that you have effected change (or met whatever organisational goals you identify as important) then your learning is more likely to be sustainable in the long-term. Organisations often leave evaluation until last : “worry about that part once we get the development finished”. But if you start with this focus, it will feed into your development decisions and create a positive feedback loop that is more likely to lead to success.

So that’s the what, but how do you do all of these things? Ideally, before you begin you will use a benchmarking tool to figure out which of these you are already doing well (your development team’s strengths), which things you know you need to work on (your weaknesses), why these weaknesses exist, and what you might do about them. A benchmarking tool can tell you what parts of your development process you need to work on to be successful. You’re not going to be able to address all the weaknesses in your process, so a good benchmarking tool will also help you to set priorities for the fixes that will give you the biggest wins.

If you want to know more about how to benchmark your current development process, give us a call. We have a great tool that might help.

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