10 steps to embed a learning platform
It starts with you
Self directed learning culture. Just-in-time learning. Community learning. Social learning. These are just a few trends we hear when speaking with clients about transforming their workplace learning. And if you’ve downloaded this guide it’s probably something you’re trying to achieve too, am I right?
I bet you’ve already thought about implementing a new learning platform to support this revolutionary way of learning. And that’s great.
But it’s important to remember technology on it’s own won’t transform your learning culture. You need a clear implementation strategy in place to shift the way your learners think and behave. Of course, providing the right tools and environment will drive your vision, but setting your new solution up for success starts with you.
1. Step-by-step define your vision
Before looking at a new learning platform, spend time really understanding your challenges and what you’re trying to solve. Whether it’s lack of good content, outdated learner experiences or evidencing the value of L&D in your organisation, the best solutions come from awareness of your pain points.
Next, set a clear, shared vision. What do you want to achieve? What does ‘good’ look like? Ask yourself these questions and get your team involved in the process. It’s important they are aligned to your vision and it’s communicated effectively to the business.
This is essential for benchmarking and measuring overall success. Your vision should be something aspirational and qualitative. Don’t worry, the metrics come in later.
- Define your problem areas, rather than features
- Set a clear vision and a shared idea of what success looks like
- Take time to really understand what your platform can do
- Create an online community and bring people across the globe together
- Get important messages out to people quickly, regardless of location
- Provide self directed learning for people to develop at their own pace
- Affect cultural change by promoting success stories and positive messages
- Affect cultural change by promoting success stories and positive messages
2. Position it
One of the most common reasons new technology fails is bad positioning. Having multiple systems can be confusing for the end user as they don’t know where to go for what and will usually result in them switching off from everything.
So make a list of all the systems you have and work out where a Learning & Skills Platform fits in your ecosystem. Utilise practical personas and examples of how people can best gain value from each tool to figure out what your priorities are and where the overlaps occur.
You may end up having a tricky conversation about replacing existing systems, but don’t let this put you off if it’s the right decision for the business and makes life simple for your learners.
- Make a list of all your systems and work out where this fits
- Clearly define what it will be used for
- Be open to replacing other solutions to make things simple
- Focus on user journey, not integrations
Positioning your learning platform
A common scenario we come across with clients is that they want to use a Learning & Skills Platform for both learning and comms, but there’s often a very outdated intranet in place.
Be prepared to have these tricky conversations with other departments, as it will save you money and provide a much better user experience. Who doesn’t want a one stop shop for everything?
Another thing to consider with positioning is how these systems will talk to each other. This is an area where RFPs and initial requirements can be tricky to navigate. You will get a much better answer from suppliers if you spend time mapping out what your ideal user journey is. Simply asking “do you integrate with x?” isn’t enough.
Integrations come in all shapes and sizes and mapping out exactly what you want means your systems will work together seamlessly.
3. Develop buy-in
Define the personas for each stakeholder in your business. Figure out their motivation by putting yourself in their shoes and ask: “what’s in it for me?”
For senior leaders, it might be proving ROI. So, the analytics and reporting dashboards will be a good place to start. Ultimately, focus on the performance impact a Learning & Skills Platform could have and all the problems you outlined in step one and how a Learning & Skills Platform will solve them.
Get subject matter experts (SMEs) on board by explaining how a new platform could save them time. For example, a learning platform is designed to extract and hold all the siloed ‘knowledge diamonds’ from experts around your business, so they’ll never have to answer the same question twice!
Managers are one of the hardest groups to get on board as they need to see the value in it for both themselves and their team. A good way to get managers to buy in is to show them they have the power to share messages with their teams and see who has actually paid attention.
The use of teaser trailers and selfie videos can be really powerful. You can make a complex message simple in a two-minute video.
- Senior leaders
- End users
4. Measure Up
At the beginning of your project, it’s important to record where you are and set metrics to measure success and prove ROI.
With our clients we focus on engagement metrics, such as percentage of logins, average views and number of posts. There’s also business metrics; things like increase in NPS, speed to onboarding, ticket resolution times etc. These will differ from business to business and will need to be something you can track and report on.
Benchmarking is also crucial to understanding how far you’ve come. Imagine you buy a house which needs loads of work. You spend six months cleaning, stripping wallpaper, painting skirtings and putting in a lot of time and effort, but you never took any ‘before’ photos. It would be so demotivating to not record how far you’ve come because you didn’t take the time to benchmark.
- Engagement metrics
- Business metrics
5. Take stock
It’s time for a spring clean. What you’re doing here is reviewing what you currently have, determining whether it’s suitable for your Learning & Skills Platform and breaking it down into smaller chunks where necessary.
To create a content map, the first step is to work out what you currently have by pulling it all out. Then for each piece of content, ask yourself a few questions: is it still relevant? Does it need repairing? Do I still like it? Is it too long? Is it in the best format? Will people be able to find what they need quickly and easily? Then what you end up with is three things:
• Content to bin
• Content to be updated
• Content to keep
A good place to start your search is with those supporting resources for face-to-face sessions, such as FAQs, systems training and how- to videos.
- Examine existing content to determine suitability
- Extract key learning from face-to-face sessions
- Break down large pieces of elearning into key concepts
6. Ask around
This is the step which is missed the most and it’s quite arguably themost important. Not only to develop buy in from your end users, but to unearth some of the great knowledge in your business.
So let’s assume at this point you’ve already assessed what you currently have. That’s great. But where are the gaps and what do your users want to see? The best way to understand this is to go out into the real world and talk to people. Set up face-to-face interviews and focus groups and you’ll quickly see common trends.
Ask your SMEs things like: ‘what’s the question you get asked all the time?’ ‘What’s the most common question you have?’ ‘What area of the business do you really not understand?’ ‘What questions did you have when you first started?’ ‘Who do you go to for help?’ ‘Who’s the most knowledgeable person you interact with?’.
These questions will give you insight into the gaps your learning content needs to fill, as well as point out who those potential knowledge diamonds are. For example, you may notice that the same name is coming up again and again around a certain subject. This is a clear indicator you should be working with this person to capture and share their knowledge within your platform.
- Talk to people
- Find out what users want to see
- Involve them from day one
- Find out who the knowledge diamonds are
7. Curate and create
You’ve looked at what you have and talked to people about what they want. Now it’s time to map it all out, work out where the gaps are and fill them in with content.
This could be as simple as getting the answers to FAQs and posting these as questions onto your LXP. Or even better, creating little videos on your phone of each expert explaining key concepts - just as they would do if they were sitting next to someone in the office.
And the best thing is: you don’t need to be an expert. There’s so much great content out there and if your learning platform integrates with auto-curation tools like THRIVE does, even better. The most common thing I see requested by end users is Excel training. There’s a great YouTube series which covers all different versions of this and it’s free! Stick the links in your platform and job done.
- Map out your content gaps
- Work with knowledge diamonds to generate UGC and FAQs
- Use auto-curation tools to find great content online
- Use free tools to create beautiful content easily
8. Launch, properly
At this point, you’ve filled your Learning & Skills Platform with amazing, useful content, you’ve got your buy-in, you know exactly how you want to use it. Now for the high pressure task: the launch.
Think of your Learning & Skills Platform like a product your team has created. You’ve spent time on the research, you’ve developed a solution, you’ve built up support and now you deserve to give it the best start it possibly can with a killer launch. Sending out an email on the day most certainly is not enough.
When working with clients, we host an entire face-to-face workshop on launch planning and help them create a campaign and resources to support their launch. This includes building up interest from up to 6 weeks before, keeping the hype up on the day itself and then maintaining engagement after.
Now ‘a big bang’ doesn’t mean you have to launch to everyone all at once. You can still roll out to different areas of the business at different times, learning as you go, but each of these launches needs to be given due care and attention.
If you are going to roll out bit by bit, my advice is to do this based on business unit, not content. What I mean by this is to make sure you cover as much content as your target group could possibly need from day one, rather than starting with something like onboarding. It affects your positioning. You don’t want your platform labelled as ‘that onboarding portal’ because it’s really hard to break out of later.
- Big bang launch campaigns
- Roll out bit by bit, test and learn
- Avoid being labelled as a specialist portal. Think of your platform like a product
9. Keep it up
You landed the launch. Now what?
One of the key differentiators between an LMS and a Learning & Skills Platform is engagement. You need to have strategies to empower this. Now’s the time to put those marketing skills into play to bring people back day after day.
It’s all about keeping things fresh and interesting, ensuring users get something new each time they log in and making the LXP feel like a living and breathing system. Don’t feel like this responsibility has to be all on your shoulders. There’s plenty of help out there. You can make use of the auto-curation features in your platform to automatically drop new content from external sources onto your feed.
Your supplier should also support you with this. At THRIVE, this is another area we dedicate an entire workshop to as it’s such a pillar in the success of your Learning & Skills Platform.
We also provide clients with campaign ideas, materials and even a campaign calendar for relevant world events to give them a head start. We then work with them on creating their own bespoke campaigns and scheduling these within THRIVE. What you end up with is a 3-6 month engagement planner which you can update as you go and tweak based on the responses you get from users.
- Schedule continuous campaigns
- Keep it fresh and interesting
- Monitor engagement and define a strategy
10. Analyse and react
Finally, make sure you stay curious as to what’s going on in your learning platform. Stay interested in your end users, use the data tools provided to identify gaps, including what’s working well and what’s not working so well, then react to this information.
Let’s also not forget to measure against those initial KPIs, and to set more every six months, to reflect what’s happening in your business.
- Always stay curious about your learners
- Identify content gaps and fill them
- Continue to measure against your KPIs
Ready for it?
Let’s go on this journey together.
Our extensive onboarding process means you’re not on your own. We’ll work with you every step of the way, ensuring you nail all the elements outlined in this how-to guide. We do this with six face-to-face workshops and ongoing Customer Success Support, making the process of transforming your learning culture simple, seamless and successful.
We were looking for something that was innovative, collaborative and fun. THRIVE is an amazing space for everyone to get involved and it’s just an addictive experience from the minute you use it