Best Practices for Planning an Instructional Design Project


Successful projects start with detailed planning.

Before you even begin the design phase for your instructor-led training (ILT) course or elearning module, you should have a clear understanding of the project, including its requirements, purpose, audience, deadline, and schedule. Building this solid foundation will help keep you organized and on-track.

What Are the Requirements?

A thorough understanding of the project is crucial to creating accurate materials. Make sure you’re clear on what the finished product should look like. Identify the key stakeholders, and schedule a kick-off meeting with them to review their expectations. Whether you meet in-person, by phone, or online, record the session, and take detailed notes. Afterwards, send a follow-up email that reiterates what was discussed, and ask the key stakeholders to confirm that everyone is on the same page.

What Is the Purpose?

Whether you’re working on an instructional design project for your organization or for a client, you may wonder at times what the project should accomplish. If there is no clear explanation of purpose at the beginning, you may face challenges later on. Do you know what people who view the final product should know or be able to do when they’ve finished? Understanding the project’s purpose will help guide design and development.

Who Is the Audience?

Knowing who will be using what you produce helps you tailor the design of the project to meet the unique needs of that group. For example, the director of the accounting department may ask for training on a new software program they’ve just purchased. But is it for all employees? Managers only? A specific division (such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, banking and payroll)? How you design the project hinges on the answers to these questions.

What Is the Deadline?

Make sure you know the final deadline for the project, and work backwards from there. Plan your project in phases, and create milestone delivery dates. Don’t forget to allow time for internal quality-assurance checks and client or key stakeholder reviews. Schedule calendar reminders of these dates in your email or on your phone to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

How Do I Schedule Resources?

Take a look at the demands your instructional design team is currently facing. How many projects are they working on? When will they wrap? Who is available now? Answer these questions, and you’ll have a good starting point for scheduling. Even if you’re the only resource on the project, assess your present workload, and set firm milestone dates to keep yourself on-track.

Every project is unique, and the criteria will vary based on the needs of your organization or client. Taking the time to thoroughly understand and plan each project is the first step in creating engaging and effective courses.

For help planning your next instructional design project, call us today.

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