I recently wrote an article about what my average day looked like when I was an instructional designer in a boutique e-learning firm. I really enjoyed all the feedback I got from community members about how their days compared to mine, so I thought I’d continue the series with an article about my day-to-day as an e-learning project manager.
Get to work a little early, grab some coffee, and settle into my desk before the rest of the team arrives so I can check my email for any urgent messages.
Round up the team and start our daily standup meeting, where everyone shares their top priority for the day. If anything urgent has come up and priorities need to shift, this is where I share that information with the team.
Head to meeting room 2 with one of the instructional designers for the Project XYZ kickoff meeting. The client and Subject Matter Expert are already there waiting for us. Since this is their first e-learning project, I start by presenting our workflow to give them a better idea of what to expect. Then I take a few minutes to clarify everyone's role in the project, including naming the key decision-makers. Next, we define the technical requirements and other project parameters before I hand it off to the instructional designer, who will help them identify the target audience and learning objectives.
Back at my desk, the phone rings. It’s client QRS calling to say their deadline has been pushed up. They’re wondering if it’s possible to get the final course next week instead of next month. I tell them I’ll talk to the project team and get back to them.
Call an emergency meeting of the QRS Project team to discuss whether the new deadline is feasible. The instructional designers say their part is already done. The e-learning developers say they can make it work if the graphic designers get them all the assets in the next two days. The graphic designers explain that they still have a lot of work left and are unsure if they can get it all done by then unless they streamline some of the graphics. We decide to call the client to have a conversation about the trade-offs necessary for a faster turnaround. The client agrees, and everyone gets back to work.
After putting out that fire, I finally have time to get back to my desk and finish going through my emails. They sure have piled up! I respond to client inquiries, share any deliverables that are ready, and forward relevant emails to the project teams.
Look at the time! No wonder my stomach is growling—I’m starving. Time to head out and grab a bite to eat.
Back to work! Looks like I finally got a response from client JKL. We’ve been waiting for their feedback for ages! Sounds like they need us to send them the updated prototype by the end of the day. Talk about a quick turnaround! I talk to the instructional designers, who look at the number and nature of their requests and tell me they think it’s feasible.
Now that my inbox is finally at zero and the phone has stopped ringing, I can dive into my to-do list. I have a new project that needs a timeline, and I need to respond to an RFP (Request for Proposal) we received. Looks like I’m going to be heads down for a bit while I try to get these things done!
Client XYZ calls to talk about the outline we sent him this morning. I grab the instructional designer—who’s currently working on Project ABC—and head to a meeting room. The client gives us his feedback orally and the instructional designer takes notes. After the meeting, I tell the instructional designer to prioritize Project XYZ since the storyboard needs to be done by the end of the week, while Project ABC’s storyboard isn’t due for another two weeks.
I have a few storyboards and prototypes to review before we pass them on to our clients. I open them up in Articulate Review and leave some comments.
Before I leave, I check my emails again and make a to-do list for tomorrow.
Time to grab my keys and go home!
Wow, that was a pretty busy day! I’m tired just thinking about it. As you can see, working as an e-learning project manager in a boutique e-learning firm can be fast-paced. When you’re managing multiple projects simultaneously—each with a different client—it’s often feast or famine. Sometimes none of your projects will move forward for a few days, and then suddenly all your clients get back to you at once and they all become urgent. When that happens, it’s important to know how to prioritize to get them all done on time.
That being said, keep in mind that every project management role, company, and day is unique. In this article, I tried to showcase some everyday tasks and situations I encounter on a regular basis to give you a window into my world. You may find that your day-to-day is markedly different than what I’ve described above—and that’s totally fine! If that’s the case, I’d love to hear about what your day looks like, so please share your experience in the space below. :)
Looking for some more e-learning career insights? Check out these articles:
- A Day in the Life of an Instructional Designer
- What Makes a Training Team? 6 Common Job Titles in E-Learning
- To Be or Not to Be a Freelance E-Learning Designer?
And remember to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.