The Guide – When the Unexpected happens

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Hummingbird. For whatever reason, I have a hummingbird that is a feeder snob. They won’t use the bigger container of nectar, oh no, they want the small one – made for one. When it is out, I swear it gives me a look multiple times from my window, waiting for a refill, as if they are in charge and I am just a hummingbird serf.

I had a plan you see, we see a lot of hummingbirds and thus I thought let’s add this container one that sticks to my office window for them all. It was logical to me, since the hummingbirds use other feeders on our property. What I didn’t anticipate was a hummingbird feeder snob. I didn’t have a plan.

I found the right size feeder for this picky hummingbird. They are happy and use it frequently. I am happy because watching a hummingbird is relaxing, except when they give me the evil eye, for it being out of nectar.

It’s all about the plan you see. I had what I thought was the right plan, it made sense, I didn’t see any challenges ahead – add feeder, nectar, hummingbirds will come. Simple. The plan though failed to consider a hummingbird like the one I see. It failed to recognize that the assumption of it will be easy to do, and the actions leading to expected results would be there. It failed to realize that even though I had other feeders on my property with lots of traffic, that this one, different from the rest, wouldn’t deliver the same results.

Let’s consider this.

You have a learning system. If you have different systems, non-learning or training, at your company, they act and are being used in a different manner. The person or people overseeing those systems shouldn’t be expected to jump right into a new one (learning) without knowing anything, just because it is a SaaS solution, and all SaaS are the same (they are not, but some companies think they are).

Harsh Reality

Layoffs are here. They are increasing. First it was just the tech space, now it is spreading to finance, manufacturing, consumer goods, education solutions, transportation and many more.

When companies use the words “restructuring”, “reorganization” “reducing resources”, what they are really saying is – layoffs are coming. The first departments that usually get it are L&D, Training, HR and Marketing. For our purposes I am going to focus solely on learning and training with a touch of HR – if they are the ones who initially were overseeing the learning system.

As a survivor (in the tech space), and someone who oversaw an LMS, the day of the layoff was brutal. I focused solely on myself, never even considering or thinking about who is going to handle the e-learning program, especially around the LMS. I didn’t think about notifying my salesperson or customer service rep, or even checking to see what should I do. I didn’t care. I was being laid off, and thus, had other areas and things to focus on.

This may be what befalls you, sadly, or it may already have – i.e. at your company – you survived, but are leery (and understandably so). Or you may be the person who has been told by the business that you are now overseeing the learning system and/or the department of training or L&D or whatever – which handles e-learning and the system itself.

No layoffs yet or you made it thru the first round (and yes, I hope there are never more rounds)

Regardless if you are providing customer education (fee based or free) or employees or members or some combo of customers and employees; you should be developing a plan.

One of the scenarios

  • If you leave the company (on your own accord) and a new person is coming in to replace you
  • You are laid off, and someone from within the company/business/entity is going to take your place – and they may not have any idea or knowledge about the learning system, let alone learning or training

If someone has developed a plan already, it is likely they haven’t considered all the questions, they must ask and solve – which have to be placed in the guide, if you will. Always have a paper copy, along with digital.

The reason being is if you have digital only, and are laid-off getting access to the digital copy isn’t going to happen – they will cut you off the network. If you leave the company on your own accord, you are assuming that someone who is going to replace will know where to look, or even whom to ask to find out. This goes along with the idea that your co-worker will remember or your boss or whomever you have asked. To safeguard this, have two copies.

Digital and place it into either an intranet (if your company has one) or as a file some virtual external site, that your company uses for employees

Print it out and place it either on your desk or some place someone will find it. Give it to the boss, unless they are cutting laid-off (which happens) too. If that occurs, find someone who will hold on to it, and give it to the new person. That someone will be in HR or IT (assuming they are taking control – and yeah it happens).

Questions to Ask yourself

There are a lot of questions to ponder, and this list is not meant to be the only/all questions – you may have additional ones based on your company’s policy or processes or mechanisms that have in place. However, from the learning system standpoint and content – these are the key ones.

  • What is the administration process for logging into the system, and adding/removing end-users?
  • What key areas should the administrator know how to do, each time they go into the learning system?
  • What reports do you see as relevant to your learning/training? Which ones might be of interest, even though at the present time you are not using them.
  • If someone has no idea on what is the learning system or any basics behind it, whom can they call to gain additional information and assistance? (That person should be your salesperson and whomever oversees training with the vendor)
  • Did you provide the contact information for the salesperson/training/support? Make sure to include first and last name, e-mail address and direct phone number.
  • Did you ask your current provider what is their process when people leave a company to go elsewhere (and thus someone new is coming in) OR if a person is laid-off and either someone is replacing you, or the system is going into some type of ghost ship. What is the vendor’s approach, and how will they be able to help this new person? Will they provide free training, even if it requires multiple sessions? (admin – and the answer should be yes) Will they provide hard and digital materials for this individual, at no additional charge? (The answer should be yes) What else can the vendor do to assist here? Hopefully they have a plan themselves, but I see over and over again, they don’t (as a whole)
  • Does your vendor offer managed services? This is different than professional services. I am a huge fan of managed services. D2L for example, offers managed services for their learning system, and several others do (again, it is not the same as professional services – so if a vendor uses that term, then no it is not managed services). If you are using a vendor who outsources to a third party for implementation, etc – and that partner is Bluewater (Docebo and Cornerstone are just two vendors who use them), Bluewater offers managed services. If your vendor offers it, what is included? Managed services are ideal for the two scenarios noted earlier. Typically, managed services is a yearly fee.
  • Does your vendor provide any “how-to” around what is training or L&D, customer education and so forth as it relates to your business? There are these materials available today, in the Learning Library.
  • Do you have content/courses that are built by folks internally or you (i.e. either via PowerPoint – ugh, or a built-in authoring tool or 3rd party authoring tool)? If yes, how can the person find/access these? If you outsource development – provide the point of contact’s information.
  • Do you have agreements with any 3rd party publishers/providers – which means you have purchased courses/content for your learning system – and it is on the system. If yes, do you have a copy of the agreements, with pricing, user numbers, etc? How did you decide on buying what you did? Based on a need or something else? (If you don’t know, you can ignore this question).
  • Does your 3rd party publisher/provider have a process in place on either of the two scenarios listed above? Who is your point of contact? If you went via the learning system’s content marketplace, then that person is your sales rep.
  • If you are using a 3rd party authoring tool, could someone figure out how to use it without any instructions or knowledge? If no, who is your point of contact at the authoring tool vendor? If you do not know, search them on LinkedIn, and reach out that way. Does your authoring tool provider offer free training or training to help someone create a course or similar? (It may be thru videos). Do they have any insight into building an effective course? (Fun fact, plenty do, and keep it quiet, which yes, makes no sense)
  • If you are overseeing the e-learning program, what do you have tech wise as part of it? Assessment solution? Multiple learning systems? Authoring tool? Some other learning tech? Content? Web conferencing solution? If any of these, have your developed or found out who are the POCs (Point of Contacts) and whether the vendor has a process or can assist (without charging a fee, if they charge, it should be low – after all, it costs a vendor every time they have to answer a call on support or provide support)?
  • Do you know where your learning system(s) contract(s) are? If yes, add them to your guide – include any learningtech platforms/content contracts. This is crucial, especially if someone new – you left on your own accord – is stepping in – they will want to see the contract(s).
  • If you were looking at a learning system /e-learning solutions – do you have all the materials you provided to the vendor(s), including use cases, user bases and so forth? If yes, add them. This includes an RFP/RFI. If you sent this out to vendors, who where they and POCs? Even if the company decides to hold moving forward on the learning system or whatever e-learning solution you are thinking about – at least the data still exists – i.e. what was considered and so forth.
  • Did you provide them a link to this blog? I note this only because the blog lists a lot of information on various L&D, training, customer ed and so forth, which can help someone get the foundation or expand as needed. Searching the net for this stuff is an unlikely endeavor for many people either replacing you or coming on-board.
  • If your company has a compliance policy which is tied to the learning system, did you provide this information? It may just be courses/content folks need to complete.
  • Who can the person contact from your company/business/entity who can assist internally from an IT standpoint? (if they left or were laid-off, then who is the second person, who will know what someone is asking about, when it comes to the whatever internally with IT). Ditto on HR. This is why when I went to any company, including an association, I always connected with the head of IT, CTO even, and the person overseeing HR. I made sure to be friendly with them, so that if I needed something I could get it quickly, rather than “it’s in the e-mail, I won’t be sending”.
  • If you are providing customer education for a free or association fee-based courses/content/seminars/webinars – did you include your pricing sheets? Did you provide how much money you have made and or any projections? (this is ideal for those folks leaving on their own – and not being laid-off, since the person coming in, is going to want to know this information – or they should)
  • Do you have any data that someone who is coming on-board, who has been hired or will be, because yo decided to seek employment elsewhere? If yes, include it. I always wanted this info, and it was rare to find it, so I had to start from scratch. This is applicable to employees,customers, members, and so on.

What about EdTech?

As a reminder, EdTech really means K-12 and higher education. That’s it. Not corporate. Anyway, the answer is yes, you can put together a guide, with nearly the same questions, sans ones that may be specific to your school/university policies around access to e-learning on/off campus. I’ve seen some real doozies around this, including one university that denied people accessing remotely. Which uh, they could, but that is another story.

What else?

Well, I am going to offer something, at zero fee, no charge, nothing. If you are buying a learning system, and received a formal proposal or proposal for that matter – and it has pricing on it, you can send it to me, and I will review and tell you if the pricing is fair – good, solid or you should seek to reduce. I know it’s not much, but for those taking over, or coming on board – there is some help. Readers have sent these to me in the past, and I will take a look and provide feedback – only around pricing, nothing else. Not the terms. Not negotiating on your behalf, nothing like that. If you wish me to take a look, please contact me (and yes, it is .co) – and we can go from there.

Bottom Line

In just the past few weeks, I have heard of L&D departments going vapor, with everyone being laid-off. I’ve heard of HR departments where 50% are gone, and the others are going into other areas or hoping to make it past another cut. Recruiters seem to be the ones getting the brunt of this, but by no means are the only ones. Training departments are getting decimated too.

On the other hand, there are folks leaving to go to other companies/entities/associations who are still hiring.

Having a guide helps you, and the next person. Which could be you.

At your new company.

It’s understandable to say to yourself, “this is a lot of work, and if they lay me off, then forget it, let them eat rocks”.

I get.

I’ve felt that way.

And yeah, just like the hummingbird

Went total snob.

Which seemed like a good idea at the time, but when I found my next gig,

I really wish that person, had done something.



Beyond just

Good luck

And eat rocks.

E-Learning 24/7

One comment

  1. Great posting Craig. L&D has always been a hard skill, and it’s the accountability of the line managers. Because it was taken over by staff, HR and others, the funding is easy to cut because the line managers will agree they don’t need it. They have always been told they weren’t accountable for L&D.

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