Analysing Client Needs in E-Learning
Analysing client needs – your needs – is one of the most important parts of the process of developing an effective e-learning course. When done right, you will get the best possible result and the process of getting there will be hassle free. If your e-learning provider doesn’t do a client needs analysis, there’s something wrong.
After all, you wouldn’t expect a sales assistant in a shoe shop to present you with the perfect pair of shoes without first finding out your size and the type and style of shoe you want to buy. In e-learning, there’s no way anyone can develop an effective e-learning course without first finding out, in detail, what you need.
Although it varies depending on the client and the project, analysing client needs can be split into four main sub-headings:
- The course
- The learners
- Practical issues
The starting point must always be the objectives you have as an organisation for implementing the e-learning course. This includes the changes you want to see in your employees such as:
- Improving efficiencies
- Delivering a better service to customers
- Improving customer acquisition
- And more
Compliance is another objective you might have.
In addition, I also like to find out if there are other business objectives you have with the e-learning course. For example, the course might be part of your overall strategy to improve employee retention rates or to reduce costs in your business.
The next stage is to get an understanding of the course you want developed. It’s not important to go into too much detail, i.e. there’s no need to go through each module or create storyboards. That can come later.
Instead, understanding your needs includes getting a clear outline of the broad subjects and topics the course should cover as well as any specifics relating to your business. It’s also important to find out the style of course you want developed – for example, should the tone be conversational and friendly or should it be more formal?
It’s also important to cover the level of feedback and statistics you want to see. Another thing that is helpful to know at this stage is the support you will give to learners as they progress through the course.
Analysing your needs as a client also involves getting a better understanding of the people who will be going through the course. Again, the specifics will depend on your situation but can include:
- Who the learners are. For example, are they all from the same department or will the course need to appeal to people in different departments? Will learners all be roughly at the same level of seniority in the company or will both junior and senior employees complete the course?
- What is the current level of skill and knowledge of the learners? Does this vary by much?
- What motivates them to learn? For example, do they want to advance their careers or is this a compliance issue? Are there incentives?
- What were the outcomes from previous e-learning courses? Can data from previous courses help with the direction of the new course?
A client needs analysis exercise will also look at practical issues to ensure the e-learning course is a success. This includes:
- Do you have an LMS (Learning Management System)?
- What device will the training be delivered on? This will include whether it is by computer, tablet, and/or phone as well as whether it will be employee-owned devices or devices you own. Often it is also important to know specifics, such as the make of phone, to help avoid compatibility issues.
- What level of input will be required from the company and who is responsible for providing this information? This could be as simple as providing a copy of the company’s logo but it could also include product information, company specific scenarios, company statistics, etc.
- How many learners will complete the course?
- Where are the learners located?
- When does the course need to be ready?
What You Can Expect
While I can’t speak for other e-learning providers, my experience of analysing client needs before starting an e-learning course is that it doesn’t take long. The short amount of time spent on the task does, however, speed up development while also delivering on your objectives.