Posted by James Legatt ● February 8, 2022

Streamlining L&D Production Schedules: Three Tips for Working Smarter

L&D projects are full of moving parts. Without a good production schedule, you won’t track and hit milestones on time—or on budget. Here’s how to make yours more efficient.

L&D production schedules

First, what is a production schedule?

Simply, it’s an outline of the steps needed to bring an L&D project to fruition.

A more poetic answer is that a production schedule is both the forest and the trees. A good production schedule gives everyone macro and micro views of how a project is supposed to go—including those incremental steps that bring everything closer and closer to completion.

When you have a well-thought-out production schedule, the entire project becomes that much easier. Taking the time up front to create a comprehensive schedule will save you time in the long run, and it will keep your teams accountable to the deliverables assigned to them at each step.

How to Make Your Schedules and Your Work More Efficient

Proving value is the name of the game in L&D. To prove value and ROI, you need to be efficient with the resources given to you—working smarter, working faster.

The simple way to get work to move faster is to spend more money. But since organizational resources are always finite, that’s rarely ever the case. Here are a few things you can do to make your production schedules more efficient and make the most of the resources you do have.

#1) Write it down.

You may have an idea of how the project will go in your head. You may even be tempted to think that idea is enough. Your teams may also have their own schedules for the steps that they need to deliver on. You don’t really need to compile all that information in one place, right?

Wrong. You need to write it all down.

If you don’t have a master production schedule that everyone has access to, then it becomes that much harder to keep track of everything. Without that master schedule, teams aren’t fully held accountable to their deliverables. And it causes confusion between teams, slowing down the work.

If you don’t have a comprehensive schedule, then take the time up front to create one. It will save you time and headaches as the project moves along.

#2) Break down the work into phases.

You now have a production schedule that accounts for teams and the deliverable. What else do you include to make the work more efficient?

The short answer is that’s up to you and your teams. But there are some general pieces of information that should be easily accessible in any production schedule—phases, durations, deliverables, and people responsible.

  • Phases—These are the macro steps of the entire project. Generally, you’ll want to include space prototyping, alpha, beta, and final edits. But these can be adjusted based on the complexity and length of the project. The key here is you want to make sure your production schedule has headings for each stage of the project and under those headers all the smaller steps that lead to the completion of the phase.
  • Durations—You need to know how long each phase and related steps are generally going to take. These durations are obviously liable to change, but you want a rough idea of how long each step will take because that will keep everyone on track to deliver the finished project on time.
  • Deliverables—Your schedule should have space dedicated to what is due at the end of each step and at the end of each phase.
  • People Responsible—At the end of the day, schedules are created to keep the work moving on time and to make sure everyone is accountable to what they need to do to drive the project to completion. Make sure for each deliverable that you include the person or the people responsible for delivering on that work.

The main function of a production schedule is to ensure clarity every step of the way. A good practice is to plan for a retrospective meeting at the end of each phase. In this meeting, you should diagnose what went well and what didn’t and apply those lessons learned to the next phase of the project. You can adjust your schedule as needed in these retrospectives.

A production schedule can be a flexible document too. In fact, it may work best that way. Make changes. Move things around based on how the project is unfolding. But make sure everyone involved is clear about those changes. The main benefit and the main source of efficiency in a good production schedule is clarity and a source of truth so that teams can communicate and stay on the same page.

#3) When you hit snags, complete what you can.

Issues arise in any project no matter how prepared you are. But when those issues do arise, what do you do?

Simple—do the work you can.

For example—your voiceover for an instructional video is running late. What do you do?

You can either sit on your hands and wait until it finally arrives—or you can look ahead on the schedule and find out what work you can get done that doesn’t require that voiceover piece.

It’s a mindset. Always keep the project moving forward and stay agile where it makes sense. The time lost in one step can be made up by working on another. Your schedule can help you do that in an efficient and targeted way.

Conclusion—A Better Production Framework

When keeping track of a multifaceted L&D project, go slow at first so you can go fast later. Take the time to create a production schedule. Include all the macro and micro steps as well as the durations, deliverables, and people involved. And always keep the project moving forward.

At Caveo, we do this every day through our own production methodology called A²®. It combines the best of the ADDIE and Agile methodologies into a framework that is both linear and methodical but with structured sprints built in. Get to work revamping your production schedules and find out how the A2 process can help by contacting us today.

Topics: Instructional Design, Training and Facilitation, Learning Strategy, Project Management