10 Reason Why Your Department Needs Online Project Management

February 4th, 2011 Curt Will Posted in Managing No Comments »

I think that any training team that has more than 5 people needs an online project management system to keep track of things.  Here are my top 10 reasons for getting a system if you don’t have one now.  With an online project management system you can:

  1. Track and see all projects that are being worked on.
  2. Document and measure the number of projects completed.
  3. Track projects that are awaiting work or planned for future dates.
  4. Improve employee engagement – everyone can see what the department is working on.
  5. Identify possible linkages and dependencies between projects.
  6. Improve efficiency by using standardized project templates for projects that are repeated.
  7. Automate workflow using automatic system notifications.
  8. Improve quality by documenting and following a standard QA process.
  9. Capacity plan for department resources.
  10. Quickly develop standard reports on any data element that you include in your system.

I use and developed TrainPro Central because I needed these things to manage my training department efficiently and effectively.  What are you using?


You can get a 30 day free trial of TrainPro Central HERE.

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We Are All Generals!

October 11th, 2010 Curt Will Posted in Managing No Comments »

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The Empowered Project Work Team
I had a boss once that had spent some time in the Marine Corps and he was coaching me one day on how to operate and succeed in the new middle management position that I had just been promoted to.  He told me to consider myself a General (a rather high ranking officer in the military).  He went on to say that, “We are all Generals.”

His point was not that I had reached some milestone level in my career that would give me discretionary power over some group of subordinates.  His point was that I was empowered to go engage, meet with, and work with anyone at any level in order to get the job done.  He wanted me to know that he expected me to meet with executives at his level or higher if needed without getting his prior approval.

In that one conversation he demonstrated his trust in me, delegated authority to me, and let me know that he was there to support and guide me, not micro-manage me.

So the next time you form a project team make sure that everyone knows that they are all generals and see what results you get.

Click HERE for more information about Employee Empowerment from About.com.

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This Is NOT What I Expected!

September 10th, 2010 Curt Will Posted in Instructional Design, Managing No Comments »

How many of us have been happily working on a training project only to find out in the later stages of the project that it really doesn’t meet the sponsor’s expectations in some way?  I’m raising my hand, are you?  Maybe it doesn’t meet their needs as far as graphic design, or interactivity, or content.  Whatever it is, you find yourself with a major problem on your hands; either the scope just drastically changed or there’s a lot a rework that needs to be done.  And of course, the deadline hasn’t changed.  It’s a sickening feeling, I know.

Here are a couple of ideas for keeping yourself out of that situation.

  • Don’t skip sponsor reviews.  There should be at least a couple of very specific project tasks that require a sponsor’s approval in order to move forward.
  • Do not let the sponsor delegate their expectations.  In some cases they’ll say something like, “Whatever Mary says is fine.”  Try to prevent this by telling them how important their feedback is to the success of the project.
  • Battle for their attention and don’t give up.  Your sponsor’s schedule may be very hectic and let’s face it, you’re project may not be their highest priority.  Thirty minute time slots are easier to schedule that an hour.  Work with their assistant if they have one, but don’t give up.  You simply must get in front of them and get their approval.
  • Write down what you hear from them and ask them to confirm it.  Or at least send it to them.  Take notes during your meetings and send a follow up confirmation.  You never know when they’ll read it and it may spark a question or comment from them.
  • Be specific and use language that they understand.  Stay away from "training geek" speak.  During the training project you may develop some documents that are very detailed and that use a lot of industry specific jargon like "terminal or enabling objectives" or "evaluation level."  You should really consider NOT sending those documents to the sponsor.  Consider sending them an executive summary that summarizes the important points that your sponsor is interested in, while keeping the language as simple as possible. 
  • Show them stuff – nothing beats seeing it.  Especially in the beginning stages of your project.  They will like having something to react to.
  • Document their approval or lack of approval.  This may simply serve to make you feel better, since most sponsors are far less concerned about any misunderstanding or miscommunication on your part (“I didn’t receive your email.”) than getting what they expect in terms of the final product.  But it’s still a deliberate confirmation of your progress and may actually cover your you know what.
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Other Things To Manage Besides Your Development Methodology

September 9th, 2010 Curt Will Posted in Managing, Uncategorized No Comments »

Once you have your development methodology defined for the different types of training projects your team will be working
on, you won’t want to forget about the other things that you and your team should be keeping an active eye on while managing a training
development project.  Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.


Clearly define what the project will and will not encompass. What are the expected outcomes or business impact? What does the change control process look like and when must it be activated?

Time Line

The time required to complete this project given all factors and any milestones that may impact the project should be identified up front.


What quality standards have been outlined by the organization or the clients for the this project?  And how will they be verified?


Who needs to be told of project progress and when? Why must they be told?  What should they be told? How or what medium will be used to


Costs for special equipment, materials, labor or staffing needs should be defined and approved.

Staff Resources

Who will be involved? Why those individuals? Is there a need on the project for special skills or qualifications?

External Resources

Do they require contracts? Do they need some ramp up time that you must account for? What reports and management processes need to be put in place?


How much risk is associated with the project? How much can be risked? Who decides the level of risk? What is the notification/escalation process?

Curt Will

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Is ADDIE Your Project Management Process?

August 22nd, 2010 Curt Will Posted in Instructional Design, Managing No Comments »

I’ll be continuing my series on building a world class sales on-boarding and certification program soon, but I was thinking about this lately.  What do you think?

We all know that ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) is the most used and a very effective learning design methodology.  Yes, there are variations, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re breaking the rules if you customize it for your organization and types of learning products that you develop.  You can, and should be using ADDIE to manage all of the learning projects that your team is working on.  Here are a few tips to help you along.

Document It, Customize It, Manage It

First get your team to list the primary project types that you typically work on.  Examples could be:

  • e-learning
  • classroom training
  • web conference delivered training
  • job aids

Next, map out the ADDIE process for each of those projects; include main the sub-steps, approvals and deliverables for each of the ADDIE steps.  Resist the temptation to over think or to over document the steps.  You don’t want to end up being too internally focused on your own process.  You want to always keep your customers or sponsors in mind, as well as your learners.

Finally, develop your internal processes and tools to manage and report on your processes across your team.

Having a consistently executed process will ensure that your team is developing quality training products that have business impact.

Curt Will

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Interesting Survey Results About the Management of Workplace Learning

July 29th, 2009 Curt Will Posted in Instructional Design, Managing No Comments »

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I ran a survey to find out more about how organizations manage workplace learning projects – what kinds of tools they use, how things are working, stuff like that.  Well, a couple of interesting things popped out at me from the results.  Here’s the ones that I noticed first and they’re the reason that I developed a project management application specifically designed for training departments.

  • 64.5% of respondents do not have a workable way of sharing who’s working on what instructional design projects so that everyone in the organization can help spot program overlap or linkages.
  • It also seems that over 65% are using spreadsheets to track workplace learning projects.  Hmmm…

What do you think about this?

I really think that the 65% of you that are using spreadsheets to manage your training development projects could really benefit from having an online system.

Curt Will

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My Top Program Development Mistakes

July 10th, 2009 Curt Will Posted in Managing No Comments »

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If I look back on the mistakes that I’ve made working on workplace learning projects, I can surely acknowledge that I have learned a lot through experience.

So in thinking about this lately, I’ve come up with a list of the top four things, that if messed up, had the biggest impact on the programs that I’ve been involved with.  It doesn’t matter if your working on distance learning projects or instructor led training projects.  You can look at these from an instructional design perspective, a program management or project management perspective.  In any case, I would suggest that the responsibility for these things be made clear on your team, for all of your workplace learning projects.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  So if you have some others please add a comment.

  • Failing to manage scopeNothing will drive the people working on a training development project crazy quicker than the scope of the project changing without some sort of management.  We all know that things change, so I would suggest that you have a process for recognizing, thinking through, and managing a change in project scope.  Many project  management methodologies include a “change control” process.  Deciding up front how your team will handle scope changes is well worth the time investment.  I assure you that the clarity will pay many dividends later on.
  • Not setting expectations for sign offs and review cycles - Finding out just before launch that a key leader needs to review the content can be very painful.  Explicitly identify reviewers and approvers before your project get’s underway so this doesn’t happen to you!  And not discussing expectations about turn around times for content reviews can result in some very uncomfortable conversations as the deadline looms and you’re waiting on those content reviews to get completed.  As the pressure mounts, people tend to get cranky.  And that’s not good for anyone.
  • Not understanding the big picture – Boy, it sure hurts when get to the end, launch your program, then find out that a key policy is going to change in 30 days.  Ouch! You should always be scanning the horizon for things that could impact your program.  Certainly there are cases when you can get blind-sided, but staying on the offensive is your best defense against this happening to you.
  • Not planning evaluation/adoption – In our rush to get the project done, and show progress to our bosses and stake holders we sometimes forget to plan for evaluation and adoption up front.  I’ve seen a couple half million dollar projects get canceled a year or two after launch because these thing were never done.  These things are not extra.  These things are a part of the design process.

As they say, “hind sight is 20/20.”  Hopefully my training project management experience (mistakes) will help you avoid these in future.

Curt Will

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How Is Your Training Department Perceived?

May 20th, 2009 Curt Will Posted in Managing No Comments »

I started thinking about this and realized that over my career I’ve been in training departments that have run the gambit in terms of how they were perceived by the greater organization.  So here are the options that I came up with.  I came up with four.  Can you think of others?

The fast food restaurant – “Can we take your order please?”  These types of learning organizations usually do what they are asked to do without thinking much about it.  Typically they don’t know they could or should do things a different way.  You can recognize this type of department by all of the empty calories it serves up.

The engineering firm – “We can build that but it’s going to take lots of time and resources and you WILL need to follow our process.”  These folks only believe that there is one way to do things, and it’s their way.  Try to request something out of their box and you will get a righteous lecture about how it should be done.  These organizations also tend to pure behaviorist when it comes to training design.  You can recognize this department by the fact that most internal customers use external vendors to develop their workplace learning programs.

The money pit – “That super fantastic grandiose program we told you about will be launching soon, we just need another $400,000 for software, content and systems to make it happen.”  An then of course it never does happen because the project collapses under it’s own weight due to complexity or because there wasn’t any analysis done up front to find out if the super fantastic grandiose program was needed, or just poor design.  You can recognize this department by all of the frustrated people both inside and outside of the department.

The business performance team – “Sure we can build it, why do you think you need it and what results do you expect to see afterward?”  This team does a great job of analyzing what the core performance issue is, why it’s happening and what the business results will be if it’s corrected.  You can recognize this team because they look, act and function like professionals.  They’re a happy team that gets encouragement from the impact they’re making on the business.

I will acknowledge that the leader of the workplace learning team may purposely position their department to be perceived in a particular way.  Your team may need to purposely evolve through some of these.  For instance, if the team is currently perceived as a money pit, it may need to take a detour as a fast food restaurant or an engineering firm before arriving at the business performance team.  The key of course is doing it purposely.

How is your team perceived?  And is it that the way you want it?

Curt Will

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Okay, Dan Klein Get’s the Point, I Think

May 5th, 2009 Curt Will Posted in Managing, Measuring No Comments »

Dan is writing a four part article for Training Magazine.  So far he’s published three parts and I’m pretty sure that Dan understands why I developed TrainPro Central.  It’s because we (workplace learning people) can’t always just focus on Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels.  There’s more.  Business people want to know that we can run our business.

The problem I have is that the structure of the article seems a little disjointed and certainly academic.

Read for yourself and let me know if I’m just not smart enough to follow the articles.

Measurements for Evaluation and Management of the Training Department – by Dan Klein

I’m looking forward to the final part to see if it brings it all together.

Curt Will

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Management of Workplace Learning – Survey

April 27th, 2009 Curt Will Posted in Managing 1 Comment »

I’d like to find out more about how workplace learning departments track, manage and measure the work that they do.  I know from experience that it can be quite a daunting task sometimes. 

If you’d like to  know more too, please take just a couple of minutes to share with me how your department works.  I’ll write a summary here in my blog, and if you’d like the results of the survey sent directly to you, just fill out the email box at the end of the survey.


Thanks for your help,

Curt Will

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