It’s approaching the time of year where many L&D departments are preparing their business case for their next project, scoping out requirements and trying to estimate what budget is needed. But estimating isn’t necessarily the best way forward; it is essential to include all of the costs.
Even if you secure the budget, if you leave something out you might jeopardise the whole project or have to cut the scope to fit the budget you do have. Getting it right is relatively simple for projects that you have worked on many times before, but for new projects and digital ones in particular, it can be much more complex. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.
When it comes to set up and or design costs asking yourself and your suppliers these key questions, should identify the majority of the costs. Top tip - the last question is the most important one!
- What needs to be in place before we even start?
For example, do you have sound cards in PC’s if you are going to be using video or voice over in any of your digital solutions? Can your IT network support extra traffic? I have seen many projects stall or nearly fail because assumptions are made about what is possible. It is always good practice to involve IT very early on.
- What does the scope look like?
If you have not fully scoped out the solution it will be impossible to cost. Use basic project management principles and identify all of the actions, tasks and activities that need to take place so that you are clear on what needs to be done. This will form your basic costings sheet.
- Depending on the activity ask “how long will that take”?
Time estimates are really important to establish your go live or launch date. Asking this question upfront will also enable you to establish the costs for the time required. This is especially important when working with suppliers, you both need to agree how long something will take and if they charge a daily rate it will be crucial for getting accurate costings.
- What hardware is required?
This might just be a venue, tea and coffee (not really hardware but you get my point) or it might be iPads, VR goggles or something else. Picture what the solution will look like when it is launched and see what people are doing/using/where they are to help you identify any physical costs.
- What comes as standard and what is extra? Note that most marketers will promote a deluxe model, if there is one. If you have ever bought a car, you’ll know first-hand how much the extra’s add up. Lots of projects, especially digital ones, can be the same. When you ask the question “does it do that?”, and are told it does, the next question you must ask is, “does it come as standard?”. Really pin down each feature, so you are crystal clear about what is included and what costs extra.
- Do I need licenses?
Whether you are buying a psychometric questionnaire or a complex content system, understanding the licensing arrangements are key. Consider whether your team need to be accredited to use and deliver it, to how many people are included and how many times can it be used etc. It is important to know the pricing model so that you avoid any nasty surprises later on.
- What will the abstraction from the business be?
How long will it take the learner to consume the learning, or be out of the business whilst the learning takes place? This is a direct cost and in some organisations back filling will be an additional cost. Taking this into account when scoping gives you a complete picture of the cost to the business.
- What other resources are required?
Think about whether any additional resources need purchasing, and whether any, branding, formatting and printing is required. If you need them, how much will they cost? Don’t forget courier fees too, they can quickly add up!
- What is the cost for curated content?
For those of you who are blending your solutions, you will no doubt be considering including curated content. Quite often this is seen as a free option, however it takes time to source good quality content that meets your learning objectives, and even if you have internal resource to do that, there is a cost to the business for that to take place.
- How much time will be spent on social learning?
Adding an element of social collaboration is proving more and more useful in a modern blend and whilst there are lots of free ways to do this, you may still need a champion and or a moderator and depending on who that is. How much time they need to spend on this it is a cost that can easily be overlooked.
- Can your network help?
One great way to identify what you don’t know is to simply ask your network. Who else has worked on a similar project? What did they do, what costs did they incur, what did they learn about getting the costings spot on?
- What else do you need to consider?
Ask everyone involved in the project what else you should consider and what other costs might there be. It is especially important to ask your suppliers if there are any other costs that need to be included. Suppliers who want to work in partnership with you will have already pointed them out, but even the best can sometimes overlook things, so just double checking will stand you both in good stead.
Once you’ve got your costs completely scoped out, you’ll be ready to put your business case together. Take a look at our free webinar, Making a Business Case for your L&D Budget for some more tips and advice.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.
Copyright © 2017 Bray Leino Learning