Expert Perspectives on Content Modernization
Business ecosystems are very dynamic. In a growing organization, everything from tools and technology to delivery platforms, to distribution methods, to tracking and compliance methods and last but not the least modern-day learners’ expectations, demand continuous change. In addition, there are also compelling situations like the Covid 19 Pandemic that accelerate this need further.
The L&D teams can ready their organizations for the future by ensuring that the learning experiences they create are contemporary, align with the needs of business/learners, and are integrated with the flow of work. Creating new content every time is obviously not the right approach. The solution lies in Modernization.
Modernization is an intelligent strategy that helps organizations reuse, repurpose and re-design existing content to make it relevant, effective, engaging, and attractive to the current learning preferences. In this post, I bring you excerpts from my conversation with a ‘modernization veteran’ Dipti Jana, Delivery Manager with Harbinger Group who comes with an enviable reputation of leading a variety of successful modernization projects.
Based on her in-depth on-the-field experience, Dipti (DJ) gives a comprehensive 360 view on modernization.
Q: What are the compelling reasons for organizations to modernize their content?
DJ: I have worked with various customers to help them modernize their content. There seemed five key common reasons why they chose modernization as a strategy.
- Compliance – Need to make the courses compliant to newly mandated/revised regulatory compliance standards.
- Rebranding – Mergers and acquisitions drive the need to change the look and feel for better and aligned learner experience.
- Maintainability – Unavailability or limited availability of people, technology, course packages, or other resources to maintain legacy courses. For example, old content being in Storyline 1, Lectora 11, Flash or even older versions of LMSs (learning management systems) which are notsupported anymore.
- Dated design and user experience – Need to align learner experience with the expectations of next generation of learners.Design style changes every few years. So, keeping the visual design of the courses as per new standards rather than making the course look outdated is critical for off the shelf content.
- Investment – Cost of redeveloping the courses from scratch while the legacy content is still relevant.
Choosing the Right Partner
Q: How should content modernization implementation partners be evaluated?
DJ: A smart, thought through approach to modernization certainly includes paying due attention to getting the right partner onboard. Here are some of the important attributes that may help you decide who to go with.
The first and foremost thing to watch out for, according to me, would be experience. This is to make sure that the team is capable of handling various challenges like non-availability of legacy course packages, handling of obsolete technology, conversion of interactions which are not supported in new tools/technologies without compromising learners’ experience, and so on. Experienced partners also tend to engage for longer durations, hence providing better predictability.
Another important aspect would be to check for the availability of tools and techniques for handling volumes. Efficiency building tools and techniques like automation frameworks, asset re-use, and well-established processes involving sprint-based development, continuous feedback and tracking mechanism, are crucial in success of modernization projects.
It is also necessary to assess whether your partner has the ability to scale up and down as often as required – Modernization, as a business strategy, requires ability to convert in batches. These batches could vary in size depending on the go-to-market strategy. Maintaining fixed size team at all timeis not cost effective.
Q: You have helped multiple companies with their content modernization efforts. How have companies/learning organizations benefited from this exercise?
DJ: Harbinger’s xSMART framework is specifically designed to address large scale modernization requirements in a cost-effective and rapid manner. Our customers have reported multiple benefits on completion of their modernization projects. I am happy to bring to you some of these numbers here.
By improving visual and instruction design and enabling courses to open across range of smart devices and platforms, the learner engagement is reported to increase by 25-30% after modernization.
Enabling micro learning has increased ROI on modernized courses as the same content can be distributed in multiple modalities. In one of our projects, we modernized 600+ hours of learning, and client was able to create more than a thousand microlearning nuggets.
Harbinger’s xSMART framework helps address the challenge of volumes very strategically. Volume conversion helps bring modernization cost per course down by almost 75-80%. With technological enhancements in the courses, overall reduction in maintenance costs for the courses, and the number of support tickets has come down to the tune of 60-70% for our clients.
Last but not the least, with Harbinger’s xSMART framework, modernization time for each course reduces by 60-70%.
Q: What does it take for content modernization projects to be successful?
DJ: Our experience of handling a variety of clientshailing from multiple domainsover the years, has given us a good understanding of what it takes to handle different levels of legacy content. Irrespective of how the content gets generated in the organization and where it resides, here are some fundamental hygiene factors that ensure successful implementation:
- High level of collaboration – All stakeholders need to be closely in-sync and should be able to take quick decisions. This reduces the turnaround time.
- Proper investment in the design phase – Design phase sets the stage for volume conversion. Deciding on templates, features, processes, quality parameters, development checklists, automation, all are very critical to build in efficiency in the volume development phase.
- Dedicated team, with flexibility to scale up and down – volumes thrive on efficiency. Having a dedicated team helps build this efficiency.
- Framework of automation toolkit, processes, standards, skills, collaboration tools, which can address the challenges of modernization.
- Experience – teams who have handled several modernization projects are more aware of the problems which can arise, and have quite a few tools and workarounds in their kitty to overcome these problems.