Thursday, December 27, 2007

Who's the guy with the blue head?

Recently, the organization I work for acquired another company within the same industry. Because the acquired company is very successful in their own right, all employees were retained and we are currently sharing best practices and working towards integrating what is now two separate divisions within a larger company. The end goal is to implement the best practices from each division, companywide. For the purposes of this article I will refer to the acquiring company as “Division A,” and the acquired division as “Division B.”

As human nature dictates, each division believes that there way is the best way and that any change would be counterproductive. However, senior management see’s the big picture and has done a great job of uncovering the best practices from each division. The first major change we are going to implement is integrating Division B into Division A’s Information Systems. This is going to be a big project for me because I am the guy from Division A, who trains everybody on the Information Systems. Therefore, I will be the guy who trains everybody from Division B on the new information systems being implemented in their organization.

In order to develop a training plan I needed to familiarize myself with Division B so that I know who to train on what and to get to know my audience so I can start thinking about what the best delivery methods may be. So, I put on my consultant hat and made a trip up to Seattle to spend a day in Division B’s corporate office for a scouting trip.

Boy did I feel like the guy with a blue face in Division B’s corporate office. I could hear the whispers of “Who’s that guy?” “What’s he doing here?” “Ohhhh! He’s from Division A!” There is definitely a level of resentment rooting from fear in Division B towards Division A. Although Division A retained all of the employees from Division B and gave them more perks then they had before there is still a fear of the impending changes. Because I come from Division A and play a key role in implementing these changes I am not exactly welcomed with open arms.

Prior to this scouting trip I thought my biggest challenge was going to be the timeline we are working on. Little did I know I was in for a rude awakening. I now know that my biggest challenge will be establishing credibility and overcoming Division B’s fear of the change. I can have the best training plan in the world but that won’t make any difference if I cannot gain their acceptance of the change.

This leads me into territory I am not familiar with. In my role I have a history of implementing change in Division A but that change was usually welcomed with open arms because they know I am there to make their job easier. Unfortunately my batting average doesn’t mean squat to Division B. Division B doesn’t have the understanding that this change will make them more efficient and is a huge improvement for the company as a whole.
At this point I need to come up with a plan for overcoming this fear and helping the general staff of Division B to see the big picture. If I can sell them on the benefits of these changes then my training efforts will go much smoother. This project is giving me a good taste of what an external consultant goes through when trying to sell their services to a client. I am usually the client so hopefully I can track down advice from somebody who feels my pain : )

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cheat Sheets

I stumbled upon Tim’s Blog which is chock full of “One Page Guides” that are simple, one page job aids covering a variety of topics. Browsing through these one page guides reminded me that simpler is better most of the time. A well designed job aid such as the one page guides can be much more effective than a day long training course.

I routinely create PDF’s similar to the one page guides and make them available on the company intranet which works out great but after looking at the one page guides I know I can do better. By keeping the job aids down to one page and laying out the information in a more user friendly format I can get much better results. Keeping these principles in mind, I am going to start creating one page “Cheat Sheets,” rather than long documents covering everything under the sun regarding the topic.

Here are a couple of my favorite one page guides from Tim’s Blog:
Online Video Editing
Introducing Wikis

Monday, December 17, 2007

Off and Running

We’re off and running with the Wiki. It’s installed and running like a dream. Now we are dealing with the task of writing the content which is turning out to be quite a task. I have no prior Wiki experience and I was under the impression that I could just copy and paste sections of training manuals that I have written into the Wiki and have it ready to go in no time. Little did I know that Wikis have a whole language of their own. With the help of a cheat sheet I picked up the Wiki formatting language pretty quickly and I am basically copy and pasting a line at a time then adding the formatting.

So far we have written about 20 articles and I really like how it is all laying out. We’ve been playing around with the categories which appear to be a huge factor in user friendliness. From my small amount of Wiki experience I have learned that if the Wiki is going to be effective then it will need to be constantly maintained and updated. I know the whole idea behind a Wiki is that the users will keep it maintained and updated but let’s get real here; very few people will be able to see the big picture of the Wiki. It is going to be crucial to have a team of people that understand the big picture and can keep the contents maintained so that it is well structured.
This has lead me to the idea of starting a Wiki team that not only maintains the Wiki but does most of the writing of new articles and updating of older articles. Due to the formatting language it doesn’t seem feasible to have just anybody doing this. The average user will have no idea what commands they need to enter for headings, etc. I envision having a team of “Wikivangelists” that maintain a watch list for certain subjects. I can take experts from different areas of the company and train them on the Wiki so that they can be responsible for their area.

Before I get started on developing my team of “Wikivangelists” I need to get some more content pumped out. Once I get a good base of content I will be able to help potential “Wikivangelists” get an idea of the overall big picture.

Next Steps:

  • Keep pumping out content – Once I get a base of content, it will all start coming together.
  • Advertise – Once the content is there I need to advertise it. I am going to have a Wiki naming contest, scavenger hunt, and make a “Wikivangelist Wanted” ad.
  • Develop – Develop team of “Wikivangelist” and get them fired up about it. Think of possible name for role other than “Wikivangelist.” Wiki Guru or something?

Wiki Research

Through my research into Wiki implementations in corporate settings I have found that there is just not a lot of info out there. I am having a hard time finding good and bad examples of Wiki implementations and how they are best used in corporate settings. I have found a few blog posts regarding Wikis in corporate settings but overall I am going at this blind. I am assuming this is because Wikis are not being used in many corporate settings at this point and there are not many people with this type of experience.

Once I have the Wiki off and running I will begin working on a case study that will hopefully benefit somebody else looking for help with Wikis. Hopefully a good description of my wins and losses will benefit somebody else.

This is a case study that helped me get my head wrapped around this project. It really reminded me of how important marketing the Wiki will be to its overall success.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

IT Comes up Huge!

Last week my chances of getting a Wiki installed behind the firewall were looking terrible. I actually refocused on hosted solutions because the notion of installing MediaWiki behind the firewall was shot out of the water at first. Luckily we have a fired up tech support guy who is dying to get a Wiki up and going so that he can update it with the latest tech support issues that come up. He was persistent enough to find a solution that all parties are happy with and MediaWiki is now installed behind the firewall. The ball is now in my court to make it useful. Where do I begin?

I was so focused on just getting buy in for a Wiki that I didn’t put much thought into the actual development and implementation of the Wiki. So, what are the keys to success in a Wiki implementation? Based on experience I would say the most important factor is creating a great base of content to show the organization what the possibilities are and then come up with a way for them to be excited about it so that they will jump in and use it. It would be a good idea to come up with some kind of contest or release event that brings a lot of attention to the Wiki.

One idea I have had so far that should generate a little interest in the Wiki is to create an online scavenger hunt that will require the participants to find certain information in the Wiki. This would help them realize the great information that is available and how easy it is to access. Quia makes it really easy to make an online scavenger hunt that would be perfect for this exercise.
In addition to a scavenger hunt I will need something that requires them to post or edit information in the Wiki.

Once they see how easy it is to find answers to the Wiki they need to see how they can contribute to making the Wiki better. This is where some kind of contest could come in to play. The organization has a large sales force and a good contest idea would be to enter their most effective sales technique. The techniques entered into the Wiki could be judged by the VP of sales and the winner could win some kind of cool prize like an iPod.

But before I worry about getting people to use the Wiki I need to start writing out the content. I am going to start out by cruising through Wiki’s and developing opinions of what works and what doesn’t. I need to see how the information is presented so that it is made useful. I have plenty of material to work with but I am not exactly sure of the best way to present it. My goal for now is to research what makes a good and bad Wiki and develop a content layout plan from there.

Just in the nick of time!

Just as I was looking into purchasing Camtasia Studio by Tech Smith I came across a blog posting on Tony Karrer's eLearning Technology blog just in the nick of time. Tony posted links to free downloads of Snag It and Camtasia. I have been a long time user of Snag It and love it for screen shots. It is very handy for creating software training materials. I recently used the demo version of Camtasia to complete a software simulation project and it worked out great. I just installed Camtasia and can't wait to put it to use on a larger scale project.

Post about free Snag It and Camtasia downloads

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We Need a Wiki in a Wiki

It’s obvious that a Wiki would be a great help in my organization. A few years ago we started using SharePoint and now we are SharePoint junkies. The problem is that our SharePoint intranet has grown so immensely that it is now difficult to find information you need in a pinch. The search features are weak and there is now so much information available that we need a quicker way to get an answer in a pinch. I believe a Wiki would be a great addition to our systems so that it is easier to access commonly needed information quickly. People don’t want to look for the manual then scroll through the manual to the appropriate chapter to find their answer.

So, we know we need a Wiki. Now, how do we make it happen?

Here is what I have identified as our options:
  • SharePoint Wiki – SharePoint 07 offers some basic Wiki options that would probably satisfy our needs. The problem is that we will not be upgrading to SharePoint until the end 0f 08 and we can’t afford to wait that long. Plus it would be nice to have some more robust options.
  • Install behind firewall – One of our tech support guys has experience with PHP and MediaWiki in particular so I am hoping to leverage his experience and install MediaWiki behind the firewall. I proposed this to IT management and I am hitting some roadblocks that I might not be able to get through. Our server farm is stretched too thin and we are preparing for an infrastructure upgrade so it wouldn’t be a good time to install anything additional to any of our servers. This is still being discussed but not looking good.
  • Hosted solution – This is what I am leaning towards at this point. There are a ton of free hosted solutions that will most likely get the job done for us. The problem is that there are so many options that it is overwhelming. There are quite a few hosted solutions that specialize in Media Wiki and I have also been referred to PBWiki and Project Forum.

At this point I am leaning towards a free hosted solution that will let us get started and prove the value of a Wiki. Once I can prove its worth through a pilot Wiki and we complete our system upgrade I am sure that IT will not have a problem with installing media wiki behind the firewall so we can expand our Wiki. If I am able to prove the value and IT agrees to install MediaWiki behind the firewall it would probably be best if my data is already in MediaWiki so the data can be easily transferred and I am familiar with MediaWiki options.

I decided a good topic to cover for the “Pilot” wiki would cover how to find and use what you need on our SharePoint intranet. We recently acquired another company who will be integrating into our intranet next month and this might be a good tool to help them familiarize themselves with SharePoint. By using a Wiki for this topic I can decrease the amount of time it will take for them to become familiar with the new tool.

Now I just need to figure out how I am going to measure its effectiveness. This is going to be tough because there is no baseline to improve upon. They are not using SharePoint now so it is impossible to say if people have been making more efficient use out of it. The best option I can think of is to track the number of hits and relate that number to a number of unnecessary emails or phone calls that would have been made if it were not for the Wiki. If I can prove that the Wiki is being used then the benefits should be evident.

After I finish this initial project it should be easier to prove an ROI for other projects. In particular I would like to use a Wiki for tech support questions and it will be easy to show a decrease in the number of tech support tickets opened. Our tech support staff tracks all of their tickets through a program called Bridge Track which should make this easy.

Great blog post on starting a blog

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Proving ROI in Training

The company I work for has a tight grip on the training budget this year and if I want to make eLearning a priority in future budgets I need to make the ROI on eLearning obvious. As you may have seen in the previous post, I am attempting to do this by replacing some content that is currently delivered through instructor led training. By doing that I could easily point to the salary of the trainer and the cost of paying our employees to leave the store and sit through training. This would result in a large amount of money that I could point to as ROI and hopefully this would cause some alarms to go off among the VP’s.

I brought this idea to my supervisor and he likes it but he’s steering me in a different direction. He would like me to create some kind of tool or eLearning course that will help our sales staff with product knowledge because this is a current focus of the training dept. I am happy that he would like to use eLearning for this but it will not be easy to make ROI blaringly obvious in this situation. Because we are not currently spending anything on this training it’s hard to say how much we are saving by delivering it through eLearning. If we already had an instructor led course that covered this subject it would be easy to calculate the cost of the ILT versus the cost of the eLearning version.

Where there’s a will there is a way! I came up with a couple of ideas of how I can prove ROI on this project:

  1. At completion of the project, I need to show how much I improved product knowledge and somehow try and correlate that to a dollar amount if possible. I can see how much product knowledge has improved by developing a baseline of product knowledge at the beginning of the project then compare that to the level of product knowledge at the end of the project. I will develop this baseline of knowledge by conducting some kind of assessment at the beginning and end of the project then compare the results to see how much their knowledge has improved. The assessments will also make it easy for me to see what areas of product knowledge they need more help in. Once I know how much knowledge has improved I need to correlate that to some kind of dollar amount or value. That’s where I’m stuck.

  2. Another way to prove the value of eLearning with this project would be to calculate how much this would cost if we did it through instructor led training then compare that to the cost of eLearning. I’m sure the cost of eLearning would pale in comparison to rolling out an instructor led course. The only problem with this is that ILT may not even have been a consideration for this.

I think it would be best to go with both of these solutions so I can point to all of the positive way’s that eLearning has affected our financial situation. The more pros I have to point to, the better.

One small step for eLearning, a giant leap for the company

Now that I am on a shoestring budget I have been making more of an effort to find low cost solutions to implementing eLearning. In my research I came across a website called Quia that I think will be a perfect fit for helping us get our feet wet in eLearning. It’s no high powered LMS, but it will let us create all kinds of assessments and track the scores. In addition to assessments, it also has an interface for creating fun games and activities. I think that by using Quia assessments and games along with power point shows, reading assignments, and conference calls we can construct a low cost distance education course. This may seem like a small step for eLearning, but it is a giant leap for my company : )

Here comes the tricky part. I need to find a subject to cover and preferably it is a subject that is currently being covered in an instructor led course. Ideally, I would like to take a portion of the content of an instructor led course and convert that to eLearning so that I can reduce the amount of days/hours required to complete the class. If I can point to a dollar amount that I saved by converting this material to eLearning I am more likely to turn some heads and get more leeway in the budget. By doing something simple that has a positive ROI I can begin to win the VP’s over and make eLearning a priority in next year’s budget.

So that’s the plan! Create an eLearning course that will replace a portion of an instructor led course and make the ROI blaringly obvious.

Friday, November 9, 2007

What did I get out of DevLearn?

Going into DevLearn I was a little unsure of what to expect considering it was my first conference like this. I was hoping to get lucky and find some miracle idea or resource that will make it easy for me to implement eLearning at a minimal cost. Well, I didn’t come back with any miracle ideas or resources but I did come back with a lot of gems that if I follow through on will easily earn %100 ROI on the $1000 investment.

The biggest benefit of the conference was talking to other attendees. The conversations at the breakfast table and with neighbors in workshops were invaluable. Everyone was extremely open to share their experiences and ideas. One of the presenters is going as far as emailing us flash files she used in a course so that we can re use them. Hindsight being 20/20 I wish that I had looked into the “Breakfast Bytes” so that I would have had more of an opportunity to share ideas and experiences with people. Through conversations with a variety of people I realized how big of an opportunity we are not taking advantage of. I was already sold on eLearning but talking with people made me feel stupid for not making more of an effort to getting this implemented years ago. I am now even more determined and committed to implementing eLearning in stages over the next couple of years.

I wish I could have gotten more value out of the workshops. eLearning 2.0, and Opportunities for Performance Support which I wrote about in previous posts were awesome. These workshops got me fired up to get back to work and start working on all of my ideas. However, the other workshops I attended were not as effective and a couple of them proved to be excruciating. It was easy to see that many of the speakers had a lot of experience behind the curtain but not in front of an audience. I think that I could have gotten more out of the workshops if I had made better selections. It appeared as if the workshop descriptions were written long before the workshops were designed. In a couple of workshops I was completely surprised about the content after selecting it based on the description. The most effective workshops were those that facilitated discussion among the group and I wish there was more of that. I got my best ideas from other people in the audience but the speaker was too busy lecturing to provide the opportunity for us to share ideas.

Overall I would say I got my money’s worth because of the ideas and experiences that other attendees shared with me in addition to the better workshops. eLearning 2.0, and opportunities for performance support were great and I hope that other presenters can use them as a model for future events. I can’t say for sure that I will attend this conference again but I am glad I went and think it was worth the money.

Opportunities for Performance Support – Allison Rossett

Another DevLearn workshop I got a lot out of was “Opportunities for Performance Support” with Allison Rossett. I was excited to meet Allison because she is a professor in the educational technology program at San Diego State. I am starting the Ed Tech program in January and can’t wait to get started.

This workshop was right up my alley because it covered what I do at work every day. I love creating job aids because they allow me to make a bigger difference across the organization. If I teach a class I am only reaching a handful of people but by creating a job aid I can reach every person in the organization.

This workshop helped me develop a new way of looking at training initiatives. I think sometimes I have a tendency to assume some kind of training course is the best way of handling the issue and this workshop helped me realize that this is not true. In many cases if not most, a job aid or tool can be more effective than investing in ILT or eLearning. I learned to always ask myself “Do they already know how to perform this task?” If they do already know how to do it, will throwing more training at them help? By providing a job aid that makes the task simpler for them you can have much better results than investing in training and more training. By making more of a focused effort to look for “Opportunities for Performance Support,” I can make more of a difference in my organization with less effort and time.

Allison has written several books on the subject and I look forward to reading them. First on my list is Job Aids & Performance Support which seems to be a more updated version of her earlier book First things fast.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

eLearning 2.0 Presentation with Tony Karrer

I attended my first day of DevLearn and needless to say ideas are bouncing around my head like a pinball. This is my attempt to get it all out before I forget. The first workshop of the day was eLearning 2.0, presented by Tony Karrer.

I’m currently researching Wiki’s for my organization so I was going into this presentation hoping to come out with a lot of ideas of how they can be used. Tony provided some great information regarding Wiki’s and the audience had some great examples of how they are being used at their organizations.

A couple of Wiki ideas I walked away with:
· Honey Pots - I loved the idea of creating “honey pots” in the Wiki so that only certain areas can be edited. I had some concerns about using a Wiki to communicate policy and other HR related information without having control of what is edited. By using “honey pots” I can restrict editing access to the sensitive information while allowing access to other areas.
· Help Function – At my organization we recently rolled out a new point of sale software program and this seems like the best format for a help feature. The application is home grown and constantly in development. Feature creep is my worst enemy. A Wiki seems like it would be a great way to keep the organization updated on all of the changes. Our internal tech support staff is constantly coming across new “FAQ’s” and this seems like a fabulous option because they would be able to add the FAQ’s on their own.
· Meeting Agenda – Using a Wiki for a meeting agenda is a great way to collaborate on the content of the meeting. A wiki would allow each contributor to edit the agenda. This is much better than emailing around several versions of a document.

At this point I have more ideas of how to use a Wiki then I have time to implement. I am hoping to implement the Wiki in phases in hopes that I can prove its value and be freed up more time to work on it. Now I need to find a way to see an example Wiki(s) from other organizations and if possible talk to somebody who was involved in implementing a Wiki at their organization.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Chronically Underfunded E-Learning

Until recently I was working with a decent budget and the broad guidelines of getting us started on e-learning. Senior Management recognizes e-learning as an opportunity for our training dept to take a giant leap forward and more importantly, achieve a better ROI on our training efforts. That is of course until we hit a slump in sales. As sales go down, so does the training dept’s budget which is bad news for my e-learning project. I saw this coming but reality set in last week when I was told that not only has the e-learning budget been reduced, it has been eliminated until next year at this time.

I am determined to find a way to get my feet wet in e-learning so what are my options? I have already played around with a free authoring tool called Course Lab. So far I have been very impressed with Course Lab especially since it is a free product. However, Course Lab is useless if I cannot make the courses available to anybody. I was hoping to be able to upload the zipped SCORM package to a document library in Sharepoint 03 but that didn’t work out so well.

I have the ability to create classes, now how do I make them available to the rest of the company and how do I track it’s use? And here’s the twist, how do I do it for free? In my quest for the answer to this question I came across Moodle. At first Moodle seemed too good to be true but I soon realized that it was more complicated than I thought and that we would most likely need to hire help if we were to go down this avenue. Moodle may be cheap but most companies are going to have to shell out some cash to either have it hosted or get help with the implementation. So, even though it’s cheap, it’s not free. The Quest Continues!

The Quest is continuing with the book E-Learning Solutions on a Shoestring by Jane Bozarth. This book is reccomended to “chronically underfunded trainers” such as myself. I’m hoping that this book leads me to the promise land of effective e-learning at the low, low, price of FREE!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

How do I get the most out of an RFP?

Writing an RFP - What a Conundrum!
All the articles say that a crucial part of the LMS selection process is writing a quality RFP, but nobody goes on to tell you how. In my own interest, I am going to attempt to answer the question of how to write a quality RFP. Oh yeah, it took me a while to figure it out and you may be wondering the same thing; RFP means "request for proposal."

What is an RFP?:
Let's get the basics out of the way. An RFP is a document created by an organization that outlines detailed requirements of the goods or services that the company is looking for. In my case, it is for an LMS. The RFP is then distributed to prospective vendors who will create a proposal based on the criteria specified in the RFP.

Why write an RFP?:
The biggest benefit I have seen for writing an RFP is that it forces us to think about what we really need in an LMS. Do we really need all those bells and whistles? Do we really need an LMS at all? It also increases the competition between vendors for your organizations business, therefore driving down costs. From the vendors perspective, a well written RFP allows them to draft a proposal customized to the organizations needs.

How to write an RFP?:
This is where the rubber meets the road and the most difficult information to find. A great source that was a big help in getting started is Geo Learnings RFP Template. Not only is this an editable template but it goes over some of the guidelines for writing the RFP. Something that I found to be helpful is Geo Learnings Top Five Things to Include in your RFP:
  1. Your overall training goal - Within your RFP you should include the general business goals which need to be met by the proposed e-learning program. This includes measurements of success—how your organization will determine whether your e-learning initiative has been successful.
  2. The Trainees/Audience - Your RFP should also include a brief summary of the roles/jobs of the trainees. This information should include details regarding how job roles and processes are currently taught, and how trainees’ responsibilities will change as a result of the introduction of the proposed e-learning program. Be sure to include the number of people—by job category and geographic location—expected to be trained. This type of information will assist vendors in understanding your target audience for whom the program will be developed.
  3. State Your Objectives - The objectives within the RFP should describe exactly what the trainees will be required to do as a result of going through the e-learning training program. Each objective should be detailed within the RFP so vendors can better understand the training goals of your proposed e-learning program.
  4. Project Details/Specifications - An effective RFP should also include specific details about the project such as:
    · Information about your organization’s technical infrastructure, end-user hardware, etc.
    · Details regarding the training program content required.
    · Anticipated project team organization and implementation schedule.
    · Budget/schedule criteria.
  5. Request for Vendor Suggestions/Input - It’s always a useful idea to include a request for feedback from vendors when there are specific needs you aren’t sure how to address.

What not to do:

How can you go wrong with an RFP. It's great for the shopper and the vendor, right? That's not what all the vendors say. Rick Nigol expressed his hatred for poorly written RFP's in his blog Breakthrough E-Learning. Rick advises avoiding the following pet peeves if you don't want your RFP's to be ignored:

  • Information Extremes - Some RFPs expect you to base an entire proposal on two or three pages of ill-defined generalizations regarding project purpose, goals, deliverables, etc. On the other extreme, some RFPs outline project deliverables, submission rules, bureaucratic procedures and associated legalities in such infinite and prescriptive detail that it takes you the better part of a day just to read the document, by which time you have lost focus on the actual purpose of the project.
  • Project Vaporizes - Twice in the last couple of years we have put many days work into responding to RFPs only to find out some time later that the projects were not going to go ahead. No apologies, no sorry you wasted half your life, nothing.....urgh.
  • Unreasonable Expectations -You know the story....they want learners to develop and demonstrate 10 key competencies, but they only have a half hour per person to devote to learning. Oh, and by the way, they want this online course up and running by Tuesday.
  • Code of Silence - You are not allowed (under penalty of death) to talk to anyone "on the inside" about the project, or to toss around ideas with them about approaches that might work. It is very hard in such situations to meet client expectations when you can't even talk to them. The reason stated for such rules is that this may produce an "unfair" advantage. Well, if someone shows that kind of initiative maybe they should have an advantage.
  • Transparent Evaluation Criteria - RFPs often do not have clear and transparent criteria or processes by which they will judge proposals. This means that it is based entirely on the whims of whomever is making the call. This makes it difficult to know what points to stress in your proposal. Worse yet are those situations when they say they will be judging proposals on A, B and C, and then say you didn't get it because you didn't have X. When did X enter the equation? If I knew you needed X, I wouldn't have bothered.
  • Moving Goal Posts - We responded to an RFP for an eLearning development project not too long ago and were told we were the only ones to have sent anything in. We met all the stated criteria, and were within the budget of $X that they had set for the project. I thought great, the project is ours. Not so. This organization re-issued the RFP with a budget of $X + 160% (not kidding). We thought, fine, they want something a bit more elaborate, so we will included many more Flash animations in our second proposal and pegged our budget at $X + 140%. Needless to say, we didn't get the job and, to top it off, were criticized for increasing our budget to such a degree over the first proposal. Huh? They could have had an excellent product for $X if they had given us the job in the first round. This led me to think that the "fix" was in (see below).
  • The Fix is in - I have no hard evidence, no smoking gun, but I am pretty sure that a lot of RFP competitions are fixed. The client knows exactly which vendor they want, but because of internal purchasing rules, they have to get X number of bids. This is really frustrating if you are one of these sacrificial lambs. If ensuring value for money is the goal, why don't folks just find another way to do this without wasting every one's time? For example, why not submit your preferred vendor's quotation to some disinterested third party expert review?

This is my first RFP and I am sure it won't be my last. Please post a comment if you can add to what I have started here. Thanks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

First Post

Well here goes nothing. This is my first post on my first blog.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with Tony Karrer, and through this conversation I learned a couple of things in addition to some great information about LMS's. Outside of LMS's I learned how ignorant I am when it comes to Web 2.o and E-Learning 2.0, and I learned that there is a lot of advantages to poking around the internet as opposed to spending most of your time reading trade magazines.

Through the great tools of Web2.0 you can find information directly related to your interests much more efficiently than combing through books and magazines.

What do you think about that?

BTW - Check out Tony Karrer's blog. It's packed with great information about web/elearning 2.0 and anything technology or training related.

Interview Questions

On Monday I will be helping to interview two applicants for a Software Developer position in my organization. It is important to me that the person selected has great communication skills because in my role I will be communicating with them frequently. I am basically the spokesperson for the application that they will be developing and it is my responsibility to filter and prioritize all feature requests and enhancements, so it is important that we can work well together. I am also solely responsible for the training of this software application which also requires a lot of communication with the developers.

Does anybody have suggestions for interview questions that can help me evaluate whether they will fit the requirements described above? There will be other interviewers slamming the applicants with tech questions so I would like to focus more on soft skills such as communication.

Not totally training related but I am sure you will have some good advice. Thanks.