Mistakes Clients Make that Drive Up eLearning Development Costs
Earlier, we shared a checklist to follow when writing an eLearning RFP to ensure realistic quotes. But once your project is underway, you need to be aware of traps that could lead to eLearning scope creep. After all, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
Here are some of the most common culprits of eLearning scope creep.
1) A Late Flag on Poor Content
Sometimes the client supplies the eLearning development team with content that does not match the training objectives. This creates problems, especially if no one notices the issue until the storyboard is already in review (or even worse, during media development).
2) Changing Content
This mistake may seem obvious, but clients often approve the project content and then decide to make changes to it later. Doing so can create issues because once the client reviews the storyboard and approves the content, development begins. Any change to content during media development could result in costly rework, such as redoing an entire video shoot. Other things can be impacted, too, such as the:
- Course outline
- Visual assets
- Narrative audio track
- Animation work
- Test questions
Content changes can also impact decisions regarding the:
- Delivery method
- Program length
- Choice of professional voice talent
- And more
3) An Ever-Growing Review Team
Clients are often tempted to add more and more people to the review process as eLearning development progresses. After all, everyone has good ideas. The problem is, it’s harder to implement these ideas and respond to differing feedback after the storyboard is approved or even a video shoot is complete.
While late input is not helpful to you, inviting all Subject Matter Experts (SME), key stakeholders, and influencers to be part of the project team early is. Left Brain Media encourages clients to get these individuals involved before final storyboard review and approval. Getting their buy-in on this project blueprint is critical.
4) Client Delays
Clients sometimes miss their deadlines in a project plan for a variety of reasons. They may have to juggle changing priorities, experience hiccups when pulling content or existing assets together for the developer, or have a hard time getting their review team to provide feedback in a timely manner. This can add weeks or even months onto the project timeline.
Since the eLearning development team isn’t working on the project during the delay, the client often doesn’t realize how it could create scope creep. Let’s look at some examples of how client delays drive up development costs.
- Dragging a project out can lead to more meetings. Adding even just three meetings where several development team members must be present can tack 9 to 12 hours onto the project. After all, the team has to attend the meeting and then debrief afterward.
- What if a client delay creates a situation where the development team has to reallocate resources? The handoff of a task from one team member to another could possibly cost a full day.
- On one occasion, a client of ours put a project on hold for three months. After this limbo period, it took our team members about four hours each to get reacquainted with the project details.
- If the delay means postponing a video shoot and rescheduling the video production team, actors, or facility usage, it could cost the client fees whether the shoot happens eventually or not. If there is an issue with availability later, time spent finding and approving new talent or a new venue further drives up cost.
5) Outdoor Photo and Video Shoots
Anytime eLearning development involves an outdoor shoot, you are at the mercy of the weather. As already mentioned, if a shoot has to be rescheduled for any reason, it can cause scope creep.
6) Client-Supplied Talent
Clients may assume they can save money by using their own people for video or photo shoots or voiceover. After all, you don’t have to pay those expensive actors, models, and voice talents. But what happens if that employee leaves the company the next week… maybe to go work for a competitor? Will you have to reshoot the footage or re-record the audio with someone else? It’s something to consider. Plus, our experience is that you usually have to shoot for twice as long or longer when working with non-professional talent.
7) Competing SME Teams
While this scope creep culprit is less common, it’s still worth mentioning. If your project involves multiple SME teams in charge of different sections of the eLearning, they could potentially compete for budget dollars. For instance, each team may want to include a dynamic, interactive activity or custom video to reinforce the respective content. What if there’s only room in the budget for one?
8) Accessibility Reviews as an Afterthought
A common mistake clients make is to wait until the eLearning is near completion to consider whether it meets the needs of its audience, including those who:
- Have a disability, such as being color-blind or otherwise visually impaired, hearing impaired, learning impaired, etc.
- Have a slow internet connection or an old computer operating platform.
- Do not have access to a computer but do have a smart phone, or vice versa.
- Are not native speakers of the predominant language used by the organization.
To help stay in scope, define the minimum accessibility requirements before the project is underway and include them in the RFP.
9) A Late Request for Translations
On more than one occasion, as our team neared completion of an eLearning course in English, clients have asked us about the feasibility of creating a version of the course in another language… or even seven other languages. Left Brain Media is absolutely able to respond to those needs, and we do. Just keep in mind that translation work and all of the other efforts that go into producing eLearning in another language must be scoped and estimated.
By the way, experience has taught us it’s wise to fully produce the eLearning piece in the primary language and get it to final approval before translation work and development begins in other languages.
Keep eLearning Scope Creep Culprits at Bay
One of the best ways organizations can combat eLearning scope creep is to partner with an experienced eLearning developer who is mindful of the project budget and alerts them to potential scope creep. Left Brain Media has a reputation for building long-lasting relationships with clients and delivering innovative cost-effective solutions.
No matter the size of your organization or the complexity of your eLearning requirements, we know what questions to ask throughout eLearning development to keep your project on track. Our goal is to be your best resource. Contact us now about your training needs.
We cover related topics in these articles:
- Planning for eLearning Development
- Professional eLearning Development Process – Part 1
- Professional eLearning Development Process – Part 2
- eLearning Scope or RFP Checklist for Realistic Quotes
- Tips for Writing eLearning Scripts
- Winning Elements of eLearning Gamification
More About eLearning Scope Creep
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