Rapid development for systems training - Blended approach

I just got a new objective today to design training for a new system/application on a super compressed timeline. I'd be interested in any best practices or advice you might have to offer if you have experience developing systems training quickly.

We're looking at a blended approach to include virtual instructor-led, instructor-led, job aids and other resource materials, and possibly some simulations (I have SL), though I'm not sure that's even feasible considering the deadlines.


5 Replies
Sheila Bulthuis

I'd try to focus on live "training" (or demos if that's the best that can be done) with job aids as the "training materials" to minimize the screenshots that need to be taken - I've found that even once the system is in UAT, there are still a ridiculous number of changes happening.  I usually stay away from e-learning until the system is stable - there's just too much involved in creating it to be doing it on a constantly changing system. That said, if the person(s) developing the e-learning knows the system inside and out and therefore the training won't need extensive reviews/edits, that could work.

Good luck - that's a tough assignment!

Holly MacDonald

Rebekah - consider focusing on providing just enough training that is for "go live" - what are the key things they need to learn to work in the system right away and make sure that they are prepared for that - Sheila's advice is good. Then think about "pushing" out future e-learning once the system and processes are stable enough to actually train. I'd map it out and even provide some e-learning on intervals that make sense (without knowing the type of system, I'm not sure what would work best). For example, if there is a "month end" task/process - send them a mini-tutorial close to month end so they can apply it right away.

Those are tough projects. Make sure to manage expectations about what is feasible, and reach out if you need any more help.


Natalie Van Doren

Maybe talk to IT department about the high volume transactions and make the link to what they use to do.  I was previously responsible for bi-monthly system training. This was an existing system with frequent maintenance and changes.  There were many components to this training, as there are always new staff fresh from training, so I had to consider many audiences.

Our approach was this:

  • Gain insight to the changes - SME/Project Group consultation
  • Product Champion Fact Sheet  (used to deliver to a group in 1 hour) Contains group activities to identify the importance of the change and how it is relevant to them
  • User Fact Sheet -  As above, but with more info.  This tells existing users where/what the system change is, and a general view on how to complete the transaction
  • Full Resource Guide-  (new users) Full information on the change,  transaction process notes (step by step), Images, links to online content
  • Online Content - Contains the same information as the Resource Guide, with links to system Demo's/Images/Resources/Policy links
  • System Demo (show me, try me, test me)

The issue I often faced was with the system 'Training Environment'.  In my experience,  It was difficult for I.T department to download the correct type of record from the existing system.  The record needed to look a certain way before a transaction could start.  For example,   If you are renewing your drivers license,  the record you need to start with should be an expired drivers license.  The other thing to watch is sometimes the IT department skip a version, between the Test, Pre-Prod, Training and Live Production version of your system.  This resulted in having different screen names in our images, and a last minute fix to get it sorted!

Probably too much info there,  but I hope this helps.

Natalia Mueller

Hi Rebekah,

I did this early this year and the timeline and available resources drove all of my options/choices.  I'll list out what I did and hope that even if none of these options work for your situation, maybe something will give you an idea or help someone else in a similar position (since this seems to happen all too frequently). 

First we met with the SMEs and decided that especially with the time we had everything had to be from the standpoint of "what will get the learners where they need to be the fastest and then support them ongoing". That baseline approach helped manage expectations as well as scope. We also recognized that we needed the end users to learn by process, meaning how to execute a complete task - not just understand all of the options and fields on every screen. We knew we needed a blended approach to meet the most immediate need but I also wanted a Phase 2 to the plan for sustainable training for the inevitable new hires that would come on board and need training over time. We could have our SMEs jump in and do all ILT now but they couldn't continue doing that indefinitely and that still left the support need.

1. To meet our most demanding deadlines, we had the SMEs identify all of the tasks the end users would need to be able to execute and then determine the steps for each task.

2. Using Storyline, we recorded screencasts of the SMEs demonstrating each task. These were each 5-10 minutes max and used the "youtube" concept (what we want to see when we google HOW TO... which is clear, basic and to the point). 

3. Each tutorial was used to create a corresponding job aid. Since the SME created the tutorial, we could document the steps straight from the recording and send it thru a very brief review cycle. 

4. All of these items were posted on our intranet (SharePoint). This also allowed us to not only provide the site as a resource but also give direct links to the learners. I will say this made tracking limited but that wasn't our focus at this stage.

6. Each week our learners had to review a set of tutorials and at the end of the week and because our audience is international, meet with the SME online to discuss the topic of that week and go through examples in the production system. 

I would say that the main thing that made this "quick and dirty" method successful was meeting with the SMEs every week and the job aids to reference when they got into the new system themselves. They were also familiar with what tutorials were available once they got into prod and needed a quick review.

It took serious SME collaboration and dedication but we turned a lot of training around really quickly this way. 

Phase 2 - since only a couple of our offices went live at a time, we used this method to train the first groups. While they were going thru the tutorials and meeting with SMEs, we began converting the tutorials into eLearning. Because we used Storyline to create those original tutorials, we were able to insert them in the courses as recordings and also include View mode (for review options) and Try mode (simulation) for practice options within the course all from that original recording. The beauty was that they were already created from Phase 1 so a HUGE part of the work was already complete. AND we still have the library of tutorials as reference aids so they don't have to go back into a full course to see it done again.

Phase 3 to come.... all of our offices had the benefit of a live Overview/demo from the SMEs who explained the high level concepts and benefits of the system. We realized that new hires would not have that piece going forward and would just be thrown into the detail. To counter than in the short term, I recorded one of the SME overviews (just via our Web Conferencing tool) and posted that on it's own. I still have the To Do item to go back and turn that content into an eLearning course but it's great that once I'm able to circle back and do that, I already have the majority of the content I'll need. In the meantime, I'm able to meet the learners' immediate needs AND meet my deadlines.

I know this was a lot and you're probably too busy to even read it all right now. Please don't hesitate to reach out if I can provide more detail or help in any way. Good luck to you- I feel your pain!