One Learning Management System: So Many Sites, So Little Time

Christina Kahler

Christina Kahler is an Associate with Educe. She currently leads Learning Management System implementations on Saba within the Healthcare…

The flexible configuration of enterprise class, cloud-based software applications has made it easy for organizations to take a multi-site implementation approach, in which they take the new system live first in a pilot site, and gradually roll it out to subsequent sites over time. Depending on the customer, these different ‘sites’ may take the form of different facilities, departments, or sub-organizations. This strategy gives the implementation team valuable time to really focus in on the unique structures and requirements of each site. The following steps assume there will be a centralized core team supporting the LMS.

Where to begin?

It is critical to pull together the right team of stakeholders to provide the vision for the LMS solution and make initial, global decisions about LMS solution framework and configuration for the entire organization. This includes things like governance, system/support delivery approach (centralized vs. decentralized) and future state processes. It must be definitively decided which functionality will be controlled by the central support team and which functionality has the flexibility to adapt to the individual needs of each site. Once the right team is in place and these decisions are made, these engagements start just like most other LMS implementation projects with Implementation Readiness Training (IRT), a Business Process Analysis (BPA) workshop and ultimately a Configuration workshop. However, that is where the similarities end.

Planning for the Pilot Site

Selecting the right site to serve as the pilot is critical to ensuring that the solution and processes work. Because the pilot site will set the tone for the rest of the subsequent sites in terms of how it adopts the system, it’s important to choose a site with active employees who tend to be champions of change, willing to showcase new functionality and help with system adoption for future sites. The pilot site also must agree to provide the right amount of resourcing for the implementation. Training of the site administrators who will be supporting the LMS is a key success factor. The first step in the implementation process is a mini-BPA, customized to not only discuss the requirements of the individual pilot site, but also to explain the foundational decisions made by the core team. Following the mini-BPA is a mini-configuration workshop. These two workshops could be combined into one, if desired for simplicity and efficiency. It is imperative that the governance team participate in these workshops to ensure consistency and compliance. The results of these workshops will guide how the pilot site fits into the overall structure of the LMS.

The Onboarding Toolkit

While conducting these workshops with the pilot site, the implementation consultant should begin building an onboarding toolkit to be used to onboard the subsequent sites. Included in this toolkit are:

  • Initial Overview to be used in the project kick-off meeting with each site. This overview explains the vision for the implementation, governance guidelines (including SLAs), changes to policies and processes, and roles and responsibilities. It also highlights new functionality to address specific pain points and hopefully stir up excitement about the upcoming change.
  • BPA & Configuration materials to guide the requirements gathering phase for each subsequent site in a manner that promotes consistency among sites.
  • Data Migration materials to help each site understand their responsibilities during the migration process.
  • Testing materials to guide each site through the scenarios required to fully test their subset of the LMS.
  • Document to capture lessons learned to guide future sites.

Moving on from the Pilot Site

Once the pilot site is stable, the implementation project can shift focus to the remaining sites with the aid of the onboarding toolkit.  Note that each site should require a lighter touch as the project moves forward and gains momentum. The development of this systematic approach to multi-site LMS implementation will ensure a smooth transition for large, complex organizations.

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