In this case study, I will explore the process of conducting a feasibility study for a learning management system implementation. I’m Petra Mayer of Petra Mayer consulting and I completed the feasibility study I’m introducing in this case study for a municipality in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
The director of HR and the CIO of a municipality in the Lower Mainland had a problem. They had issued a request for information or RFI, and received eight responses from various software suppliers, and they had no resources with know how have how to analyze these responses and come up if introducing an LMS into their organization is going to be feasible.
- They reached out to me to answer three primary questions for them:
- Is a solution to the requirement identified by the municipality available by an LMS provider? They simply wanted to know if there were gaps that meant that their needs would not be satisfied.
- What is the range of costs for LMS systems to be considered in the city budget? They wanted to have a clear guide for the upcoming budgeting process.
And is it feasible for the municipality to implement an LMS based on budget accessibility, and also implementation resource planning? They knew budget isn’t everything, even if they have the funds, they may not have the resources to do this work, particularly when considering competitive projects on their books.
What was my role in this project?
Firstly, I needed to analyze the RFI responses versus the requirements that they had provided to the vendor. I then needed to identify any potential gaps, finding any areas where they may not find an LMS to satisfy their needs. I also needed to compare the cost options and proposed budget needs.
They then wanted me to draft a project plan, give them an overview what that project will look like. And as part of that I needed to identify the needs for the implementation team who needs to be involved, and what do they need to do, which really brings me to defining the implementation tasks.
I developed that methodology throughout of the project, making sure to check in with the client regularly to obtain their buy in and ensure alignment. The initial task was to do a thorough analysis of the RFI responses that they had received.
Based on this analysis, I moved to recommendations. I had noted a few things in their process that made the analysis of the data ambiguous, and I wanted to ensure that in the future, they would have more detailed requirements to ensure that vendor responses can be more easily interpreted.
Then I moved into planning, bringing some of the planning tasks that a project team would do into this process. This was key for my client, who felt that they had a much stronger understanding of the project, and how the project like this would impact that team.
The initial analysis focused first and foremost on the requirements. Assessing how each of the vendors meets the requirements was a primary objective for this project. It was also to highlight any potential gaps that may not be met. In order to do that I calculated a match rate for each requirement and vendor giving points between one and five of how they fulfilled the requirements helped to identify the suppliers that will meet requirements and also identify any possible gaps.
Further, the analysis was to provide understanding of the budget that would need to be acquired to implement an LMS such as this one, vendors had provided costs that were not easily comparable, as they had not been given very distinct requirements in this area. I needed to analyze the cost over a longer time period and was then able to compare the costs which each vendors anticipated match of the requirements.
Recommendations focused on improvement for the RFP process. As this client wants to go to RFP once budget has been secured. This will help them making the RFP response easier and to analyze. I also added recommendations for the project management of a project of the size.
Having met some members of the organization I was able to make recommendations that can be incorporated into the budgeting process. In this case, I recommended a dedicated project manager either internal or external that would help move the project to completion.
This brings me to the planning phase.
In order to give the team a better idea of how this project will impact their operations I created a project plan and estimated result was hours across the anticipated project team. This will help the organization to plan the project accordingly and to obtain buy in from subject matter experts.
One key component to this was to create a list of implementation tasks. This was particularly challenging as the type of system obtained and vender contracted, will have an impact on this.
I created a RACI chart that helps identify the resources who will be responsible or accountable for the task and who will need to be consulted or informed.
My client particularly appreciated how I was able to demonstrate the volume of information in easily digestible chunks. For example, I created a graphic that showed each of the vendors investment over a five year period versus the match to the requirements set by the municipality. Vendors higher on the graph meet the requirements better. vendors to the right of the graph, and with bigger bubbles require a greater investment over the anticipated five year initial contract term. Using this graph clearly identified one particular vendor who had favorable pricing and also demonstrated that they would be able to meet the requirements set in the RFI.
This does not necessarily mean that this will be the winning vendor. Understanding how each vendor implements a project like this, and how they will support the client post implementation is also very important, it must be considered in the decision process.
In order to determine the feasibility of the project based on resources, I needed to go into much greater detail understanding the project on a task level.
For this purpose, I created an an implementation task list and analyzed it as a RACI chart. roles were assigned to the task as to who is responsible and actually performs the activities to achieve the deliverables of the task. Accountability defines who is answerable that this task is completed. This chart also defines who needs to be consulted, and who needs to be informed.
Once a vendor has been selected, this chart should be reviewed and updated as part of the project planning sessions. Many tasks may shift depending on the vendor. Some vendors are taking on the majority of tasks for configuration and customization. On the other hand, vendors offering off the shelf software may pass this task to the client for the incentive of lower software costs.
The project plan was based on the RACI chart of the implementation tasks. This is only the top line report under each of the colored lines or specific tasks that are listed in the RACI chart.
Based on these tasks, I assessed the estimated hours of the team we had identified for the planning purposes.
The outcome of the feasibility study is a concise document that allowed the client to balance the needs for this project against other project priorities and to budget for the LMS. It also gave them some insights into the RFP process and how to gain buy in from other subject matter experts.
The overall feasibility study was a 70 hour project coming in 50 hours under what we had anticipated. Despite the fact that we added a number of valuable components such as RFP recommendations, suggestions how the project team should be made up assessment of the training that needs to be transitioned to the new LMS sample project plan for the implementation and the benefits analysis for an LMS for the organization.
This was an incredibly fun and rewarding project for me and left the client also very satisfied. If you are undertaken an RFP for a Learning Management System, or any other IT system for that matter. Consider the approach I’ve demonstrated here. I invite you to contact me for your LMS implementation project. I would be delighted to support you in your RFI or RFP process or act as your project manager for the implementation of the system.