The importance of Process Mapping in eLearning Design
Although Larmer Brown has been involved in more content development projects than I can begin to remember, developing the actual content is a small proportion of what we do. Identifying and recording the correct process (process mapping) often presents our biggest challenge!
End to end processes, usually combining a new or upgraded system, result in a change in process and hence a change in the way people do their job. When we begin an eLearning content development project for a new system deployment, it’s often the first time that anyone on the project has worked through the functional process at a very granular (click-by-click) level. It’s at this point that the realisation generally hits - either the system or the process doesn’t work or, in some cases, there is no process. When we go back to the system experts to identify the process, we often find that we reach a standstill because no one knows what comes next.
We all know that users hold the key to success when a new process of any sort (with or without an IT system) is introduced. Our project with Connect Plus Services, around the introduction of the new Dart Charge scheme at the Dartford Tunnel, presented a similar process mapping challenge. Construction had been planned and signed off but the intricacies of how the tunnel’s toll operators would actually do their job outside the toll booth had not been worked through in minute detail. This was a particularly challenging project in terms of understanding the processes, especially given the amount of construction, the endless traffic and the need to keep everything moving on the busiest motorway in Europe.
The ‘lean’ approach to process improvement ensures that users not only recognise their role in the end to end process, they see the entire process. It instantly becomes obvious what will transpire if they do not complete their specific part of the puzzle. Engage Modeler is our tool of choice in these project situations. ‘Professional’ process mapping tools require business process mapping experts, training and technical support, as well as extensive time and lots of budget. With Engage we are using a tool that is designed to support the entire project team – the people building the processes and the systems to support those processes. We can bring together all of the people involved in the project (SMEs, system configuration, etc.) to replicate and manipulate the process, visualise each stage and compare outcomes.
Engage Modeler’s intuitive, dynamic and pictorial approach to process mapping enables us to replicate these processes quickly. The project team can evaluate different scenarios in a workshop environment.
The process content that we create using the Modeler can be embedded within the eLearning to provide an end to end process, building the eLearning content behind each step in the process. All of the steps can be seen as part of the process, regardless of whether they are system or non-system based. So, for the proportion of the process that is IT, we can link the eLearning simulations behind that part of the process from Engage Modeler.
In order to accelerate eLearning content development I would always recommend that clients use a tool such as Engage Modeler, to undertake their process mapping and provide a thorough understanding of the process. This ensures that the content is process driven, focussed towards the objectives for that project and the business.
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