How do you manage course maintenance and life cycles

Hey gang - we just received a really great question from a blog reader who was just tasked with developing SOPs around updating and revising his company's course library.

Who's responsible?

Is this something course designers are responsible for managing? Customers? SMEs or program managers? Who owns it, tracks it and determines the process?

How often?

What's a reasonable review cycle? Do you review courses equally? Or will some courses (legal, new hire) get reviewed more often than others (change management, learning to lead, etc)?

What's included?

Are there different types of updates? For example, inaccuracies might get updated as detected while less critical requests are considered quarterly.

What have you seen or implemented in your own organizations? Can you share any templates or worksheets?

5 Replies
Rachel Barnum

From a Course Package Company (think: Skillsoft)

1. Who's responsible?

Our product managers, ultimately, were responsible. Even if they didn't assign the "expiration" or "revision" date for each course, they designated how it should be assigned. For example, many of our courses were medical, so it was based on different accrediting bodies.

We used a database system called Quickbase to store these dates, and we had reports that would spit out what was coming up for expiration. Product managers would then decide what to do with each course on a case by case basis. Sometimes it was just letting it go through our "standard revision cycle" which was pushing it out to a SME to look over, make any minor changes, and so on.

2. How often?

At minimum, that company set every 4 years courses would get reviewed. Some required yearly maintenance. It entirely depended on whether or not there were any accreditation on it that dictated the length of time it could exist without a review, or if new laws/mandates came out and courses were affected.

3. What's included?

There were several different types of updates. Some were "minor changes" where we needed to update a few sentences here and there, some were "major changes" where over 50% of the course needed to be updated. We would include them into our cycles based on the length of time something took to do. Occasionally, a course was completely replaced by a new course because the old course had such outdated information.

I just joined a new company and I'm discovering how they go through it so if it's compelling, I'll include that too :)

Rachel Barnum

Just received some insight.

There is a revision process like the one I previously laid out for specific sets of courses. There is an identified person that checks for revisions, etc.

Otherwise, it is up to the specific departments withing the business that sponsored the training/e-learning to check for updates and send them to us.

Sarah Hodge

Hi Sam and welcome to E-Learning Heroes! I just wanted to chime in with a few resources that I hope make it easier to maintain courses. Though, I will say every organization is different so this might not work in every situation. 

  • 5 Tips for Building E-Learning Courses That Are Easy to Maintain - These tips list some prevention ideas that might help maintain courses in the long run. 
  • Course Update Spreadsheet - if you're responsible for course maintenance, this sheet can be really helpful because you can see a list of all the courses in one place with any notes you need to stay organized. If you do use something like this, I highly recommend importing it into Google Sheets if you have more than one person working on updating courses. This allows everyone to see it and make changes in real time so you don't have to pass a file back and forth. 

These are just a few things that have helped me. I hope that gives you some more ideas you might be able to use!