So many initiatives in learning today involve the thoughtful application of technology. And often, human resources professionals fear the mystery of their information technology organization. We believe you will want to learn from, and influence, your chief information officer.
Most learning projects today have a significant technology component. Whether you are installing, combining, updating, or outsourcing an learning management system, developing eLearning classes to run on that LMS, blending asynchronous and synchronous solutions, figuring out how to leverage mobile technology or social media for strategic learning projects, or building linkages to other HR software (i.e., performance management, competencies, compensation, succession), you are going to have to get comfortable with technology and your IT department.
You actually have much to learn by networking with your IT teams. And you need the CIO on your side.
You’ll need to navigate the potential conflict of learning and IT, based upon different data priorities. IT of necessity has to focus on data security and privacy; learning usually is focused on increasing employee access to information.
IT has been struggling with methodologies and processes for more than 50 years. But architects and builders have had several millennia of experience to call on. It is hard work and complex — there are many famous, huge failures or cost/schedule overruns in construction projects, for a variety of reasons. But skyscrapers, bridges and homes get built, repeatedly, with success. So IT learned to adopt the rigor of construction as they explored how to do their own work.
Modeling builders, IT developed system development life cycles, or SDLC — defining and sequencing requirements, design, programming, testing and implementation. This SDLC was often known as the waterfall model.
There were two crucial problems: It was slow, and highly resistant to change when new requirements surfaced. Architects used 3-D models, or even actual model homes, rather than just blueprints to show owners what they would be getting. They gathered feedback before expensive construction.
IT professionals developed prototypes to get feedback from software users. It costs between 10 and 100 times more to change a finished building or an implemented software program than to revise a blueprint or specification or a model. So builders and IT learned to refine their use of models and prototyping.
Learning professionals initially adapted the waterfall for our ADDIE model — analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation — for course development. Learning did the same, with methods like SAM — Successive Approximation Method — which is a version of prototyping.
Major corporate rollouts involve IT but require learning support. They could be HR transformations with Peoplesoft or finance transformations with Oracle or SAP, or sales and customer relationship management with Salesforce.com. You may be asked to work side by side on agile teams to develop learning along with the product in “sprints.” Other strategic projects in support of corporate goals may require your learning strategy to include the use of mobile devices or social media. Even as you choose to outsource your LMS or use software as a service, you will need to ensure data integrity and data privacy. You will need to ensure single sign-on and linkages to other HR technology.
Today, many software developers are using a new, fast, highly adaptable method in appropriate situations. Based on the Agile Manifesto, they focus on:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working products over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
While there is great value in the items on? the right, they value the items on the left more.
Learning is also now following in IT footsteps in adapting agile techniques where appropriate, even for projects that are not tied to IT but need to become more nimble.
You need to navigate technology waters, and adopt appropriate methods for efficiently developing learning that addresses business priorities and meets participant needs.
Do you have a close working relationship with your chief information officer? Do you have a mentor in the telecommunications and networking teams, someone you can ask your “dumb” questions to and get understandable answers and good advice?
Have you had lunch with your CIO yet?Filed under: Learning Delivery, Technology