Ainhoa García González, e-learning project manager at RWS, explores the role of a project manager and the skills and talents needed to succeed in the role.
An e-learning project manager (PM) at a language service provider (LSP) manages the progress of e-learning initiatives. We manage the entire process, from the planning of a project to the implementation phase. PMs strive to optimize available resources, including budget, time, teams, and materials, to ensure the final product meets the client’s expectations.
E-learning PMs need a diverse skillset that combines project management, technical knowledge, and a specialized understanding of e-learning solutions. An e-learning PM working at an LSP must also consider any potential issues that may arise during the localization process of an e-learning course.
Vital Skills for an E-Learning Project Manager
Specialist e-learning PMs have the skills of project managers in any field, but there are some specific requirements. They need a strong grasp of instructional design (ID) and engineering concepts as well as an understanding of localization and the impact it can have on a project.
This can include language expansion, the inclusion of non-editable items like images, cultural references, right-to-left (RTL) languages, and limitations imposed by authoring tools. Addressing these issues can be time-consuming and costly. Therefore, it is essential to advise and negotiate with the client about the course design from the start.
E-Learning Project Managers Love a Plan
Inadequate planning can result in project failure. Without a solid plan in place, executing each phase of the project becomes more difficult. Once the project is initiated and the scope defined, the PM should dedicate time to a planning session. This involves creating a tracker, prioritizing tasks, establishing a timeline, setting time estimates, defining critical project milestones, and evaluating progress at the end of each phase. Communicating task assignments and expected turnaround times (TATs) to the teams involved helps them visualize the timeline as well.
Time Management and Risk Assessment
Meeting deadlines is paramount. And it is crucial to consider all the factors that may contribute to project delays, such as budget constraints, time limitations, available resources, clients, suppliers, and everyone involved. It’s also important to build in buffer time if the project encounters problems.
Every e-learning project carries a certain level of risk. It is important to identify potential problems in the project and regularly reassess them. Unexpected delays, breakdowns in communication, and other issues can present challenges to project management. To overcome these obstacles, it is crucial to proactively recognize likely problems and implement practical solutions.
We Solve Problems
Teamwork, leadership, and negotiation skills are crucial for e-learning PMs because the role comes down to problem solving.
Challenges are inevitable in any e-learning project and a successful PM is prepared to tackle these challenges and often employs lateral thinking. Instead of being limited to one approach, they consider multiple perspectives when addressing problems.
Effective communication plays a crucial role in preventing approximately 60 percent of project “issues” that arise from conflicts. As a PM, excellent communication skills are essential when dealing with all project stakeholders, both internal and external.
Drawing upon your e-learning knowledge and experience, you should also serve as an advisor to the client, guiding them on best practices for successful project development. They may not always be aware of how the development process works, and their design ideas may not align with effective practices. This is where your persuasion skills come into play, helping them understand and embrace more interesting approaches.