Deadlines can make training content development difficult to manage, especially deadlines that are constantly changing or that require a quick turnaround. When faced with these challenges, use these tips and tricks to move toward the finish line.
Tip #1: Focus on form, and simplify.
When time is the limiting factor in content development, it is especially important to determine the delivery method(s) that the course will use, such as job aids, video, e-learning or a combination of modalities. Keep in mind that content should remain the focus, and simplify development where possible. Voiceovers and other additions, which may require a great deal of re-work, might not be time- or energy-efficient.
Tip #2: Prioritize materials.
Focus time and effort on the items that will have the greatest impact on the audience. If possible, create lower-priority and/or less time-consuming items closer to the deadline to ensure that learners have the most important items when they need them.
Tip #3: Use existing materials as a starting point.
No matter the deadline, it is often helpful to re-use existing documents and templates (such as PowerPoints or e-module templates) to get a head start on training program creation. Once the project is complete, the same principle is true to ensure that the new materials are used as a starting point for other projects when possible.
Tip #4: Break it into manageable pieces.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you look at everything that you need to create for a training program. To avoid this feeling, break the development list into small, manageable pieces. Schedule specific day(s) to work on each piece, and mark each item off the list as it’s completed to keep a clear vision of what’s left.
Tip #5: Schedule frequent check-in meetings.
A great way to stay on track is to schedule frequent check-in meetings with SMEs and other parties involved in the project. These check-ins are important to share the progress of content development and to stay up-to-date on the progress of the overall project. In addition, they can help ensure that the content still matches the scope and needs of the project.
Tip #6: Focus on what you can create.
You can easily stall the content development process by obsessing over the list of materials that you can’t create for any number of reasons, from access issues to SME delays. To avoid losing momentum, focus instead on what materials you can create, even if the material is only an initial draft.
Tip #7: Determine if training can be implemented even if the deadline is delayed.
When a deadline is pushed out once or even twice, training dates might need to be adjusted to align accordingly. Sometimes, however, it is helpful to keep training dates as originally scheduled despite adjustments to the project deadline. Moving forward with training implementation ensures that all parties involved are prepared when the project deadline is reached. If the deadline is pushed too far from the training date, it might be beneficial to schedule a follow-up training session closer to the deadline.
Tip #8: Don’t stress.
Don’t stress too much over any individual part of the material creation. It will all come together in the end. If the deadline is canceled or pushed indefinitely, don’t take it personally.
Tip #9: Avoid broadcasting the deadline.
If a project deadline is moved once or multiple times, refrain from mentioning the deadline in the training materials. Leaving out the deadline can prevent unneeded re-work, such as re-recording of voiceovers, and can avoid confusion among trainees.
Tip #10: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Finally, it may seem like a no-brainer, but ask for assistance from other team members and trainers if possible. An extra set of hands to help with something even as minimal as capturing screenshots can help ensure that you continually make progress and can help keep stress levels low.
When the project is completed, remember to document its successes and opportunities for improvement, and share them with team members to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of future training programs.