Greer's ID Project Management Model


This is an overview of the generic instructional development (ID) project management model as it appears in Michael Greer’s classic book, ID Project Management: Tools & Techniques for Instructional Designers and Developers (Educational Technology Publications, 1992.)

This award-winning text is filled with 37 job aids (checklists, worksheets, etc.) to help you perform the activities associated with each of the steps in the model. This text and model have been adopted by many companies and university graduate school programs.

(You might want to check out the archival outline of Greer's two-day workshop Planning Successful ID Projects.)

Greer's ID Project Management Model

Phase I: Project Planning

Note: This model assumes that you have completed all necessary front end analysis, you have decided that training is the best solution, and that your project will involve creating training and/or job aids, etc. — In other words, the model does not account for front end analysis that might eliminate training and the need for instructional development in the first place.   You should do that before you begin your ID project!
Step 1. Determine Project Scope
Purpose: When selling the project to internal or external sponsors, it is important for the project manager to make a preliminary guess at the project scope. This provides a reality check, allowing everyone concerned to affirm his or her commitment to the project and its scope. Activities:
  • Make an early estimate of the amount of materials that must be created, the time and effort required to create them, and the resources required.
  • Preliminary materials specifications
  • Project schedule and/or time estimate
  • A budget and/or cost estimate
Step 2. Organize the Project
Purpose: It is likely that substantial time will pass between the time the project scope is determined (Step 1) and the time that the project is authorized to begin. Therefore, the actual management of a project begins with Step 2, Organize the Project. This step requires the manager to confirm that the assumptions made about project scope are still valid.  In addition, it requires that detailed plans be developed, thus helping to lay the groundwork for a successful project. Activities:
  • Confirm earlier assumptions about preliminary materials specifications, time, and costs.
  • Confirm the project team members
  • Set up the Project Diary
  • Organize the Kickoff meeting.
  • A revised or confirmed set of materials specifications, schedule, and budget
  • List of project team members
  • Project Diary containing important project data
  • A well-organized Kickoff meeting

Phase II: Instructional Development

Step 3. Gather Information
Purpose: Thorough information gathering assures that the right skills and concepts are provided by the training and that training dollars are invested wisely. Activities:
  • First, determine what kind of information is needed to support instructional development.
  • Then, through observations, interviews, and review of documentation, gather that information in an effective manner.
  • Formal task, job, or content analyses are often conducted.
  • Detailed information is gathered concerning:
  • The target audience of the training
  • The trainees’ relevant work environment
  • The specific tasks which must be learned
  • Technical details about the course content
Step 4. Develop the Blueprint
Purpose: The Blueprint (design specifications) allows all relevant reviewers to look at course content and strategy at a point before a lot of energy is expended in writing text and transitions, formatting job aids, creating graphics or case studies, or writing scripts. This early review permits the design team to make substantive structural revisions while the course is still easily revisable. Activities:
  • Synthesize the information gathered in Step 3 and create a detailed description, or Blueprint, of the courseware to be developed.
  • Share the Blueprint with reviewers and revise based upon their comments.
  • A Blueprint document that includes these parts:
  • A big picture description of the instructional materials and course flow – Specific performance objectives
  • Specific instructional strategies to be employed to attain each objective
  • A detailed outline of content to be included in support of each objective
  • A summary of media and materials to be created to support each objective
  • Formal approval of the Blueprint by the course sponsor
Step 5. Create Draft Materials
Purpose: Draft versions of all instructional materials should be created before expensive master materials are produced. These materials will then be reviewed, revised, tested, and finalized before production begins. Activities:
Step 6. Test Draft Materials
Purpose: A test run of the course is essential to make sure that the materials work as they were designed to work. Activities:
  • Assemble representative members of the target audience and test the draft materials while observing their performance.
  • After the test, debrief trainees and observers and specify revisions.
  • Review test results and revision specifications with the course sponsor.
  • Test run of all courseware
  • Detailed revision specifications, approved by the course sponsor
Step 7. Produce Master Materials
Purpose: The purpose of this step is to create professional quality masters of all course materials. Activities:
  • Produce final masters of print, audio, video, CAI, and any other materials.
  • High-quality master materials that may be used to create correspondingly high-quality reproductions
  • Formal approval of these masters by the course sponsor

Phase III: Follow Up

Step 8. Reproduce
Purpose: Make copies of all materials prior to distribution to trainees and instructors.Activities:
  • Reproduce all course materials in specified volumes.
  • High-quality copies of all course materials, as defined by the design specifications
Step 9. Distribute
Purpose: The purpose of this step is to make sure that all materials are properly stored and/or disseminated. Activities:
  • Distribute copies of materials to the appropriate locations for storage and/or dissemination to trainees and instructors.
  • Copies of materials, properly stored and distributed in a timely manner
Step 10. Evaluate
Purpose: The main purpose of evaluation is to determine the long-term effectiveness of the instructional materials that were created. A secondary purpose is to confirm that the assumptions made about effective instructional design strategies continue to remain valid. Activities:
  • After trainees complete the course, conduct follow-up analyses of their ability to perform skills on the job. Develop recommended revisions based on these analyses.
  • Reports of trainee skill level after completing the training recommendations for revisions, if appropriate
  • Recommendations for improving the instructional development process

 See also this PDF:  Typical HPT [Human Performance Technology] Project Life Cycles (This is from Greer’s classic book, ID Project Management, © copyright 1992, Michael Greer & Educational Technology Publications)

Estimating Instructional Development Time

(From the archives: This is a decades-old article by Michael Greer. Can you apply this to your current project planning? It's up to you... Enjoy!) For many years I have been teaching my class Planning Successful ID Projects for IDs and trainers from all different industries.  In that class participants discuss their own rules of thumb for developing instructional materials and then use my worksheets for estimating time and costs for typical ID projects. Like any instructor, I’ve spent a lot of time listening and learning from what my students tell me. And they have told me a lot! Here are some things I’m fairly certain about when it comes to estimating time for instructional development projects:
  • Rules of thumb such as 10:1 or 30:1 (development time vs. training time) vary tremendously, depending on who is espousing them. While I have never heard anyone using a ratio as low as 10: 1, many different people from many different reputable organizations have told me that they place their confidence in 15:1, 30:1, 50:1, and 80:1 for instructor led training. For CBT (computer based training), students tell me that they use 150 – 200:1, depending on complexity. One reputable CBT developer, speaking at an ISPI (International Society for Performance Improvement) conference, said that CBT development time could go as high as 1500 hrs for 1 finished hour! …At the same time, this developer uses 400:1 as an average estimator.
  • Whatever type of training you are developing, what matters most when estimating the development time is the instructional development project management model you will be using. Your model should account for all the activities you will perform that are not directly related to writing and revising instructional materials. I will call this “non-writing” time.
  • Non-writing time typically consumes most (history shows about 80%) of the project time! This non-writing time includes front-end analysis, brainstorming, preliminary design, sponsor/SME review, sponsor/SME feedback, administering/debriefing student tests, and all manner of handholding and administrivia. The ID project management model should not only account for these activities, it should provide means of attaining closure (through sign-off, etc.) on each of them and for keeping things moving. Needless to say, your model should be custom-tailored to your sponsor/project environment.
  • The rules of thumb seldom account for the fact that the deliverables we are developing for a one-hour training session may differ enormously from one course to another. Will instructor-led training provide lecture only, lecture with video, lecture with interactive simulations, case studies with two student roles, case studies with six student roles? You get the point! We need to think about exactly what is happening in this “one hour” of instruction, how many training paths (real-world or CBT) will we be needing to build for students and what specific materials will each path require that we develop? Once we know this, then we can make a reasonable estimate of the writing/revising time and add it to the non-writing time.
  • If you carefully examine your organization’s unique ID project management model and then collect your organization’s historical data related to time spent executing various steps of this model, you will be able to create some fairly accurate custom project estimation worksheets with your own supporting historical data to help you accurately estimate projects. Given such worksheets, you can usually make a detailed, easy-to-negotiate-and-defend project time/cost estimate in as little as 1 1/2 hours. And estimates you come up with will then make a lot more sense for your company than using some vague ratio. (If you don’t have any project history, you still can develop a fairly good estimate by using a detailed, step-by-step listing of all the activities, hand-off points, and so on — in other words by visualizing, in detail, the deliverables to be created, the steps involved in creating them, and the time required to complete each step.)
The bottom line: Don’t trust the ratios, unless they evolved from your specific projects using your own specific people — and even then, I believe such ratios are probably too simplistic and inaccurate to apply to a particular project. By the way, if you want to see an example of a detailed time estimation worksheet for ID projects, see my award-winning article “A Manager’s Guide to Determining Project Scope,” Performance and Instruction, May/June 1988. (This and 36 other job aids are also in my book, ID Project Management.) For an interesting related article discussing many organization-specific rules of thumb for estimating project time, see “How Long Does It Take” by Ron Zemke and Judy Armstrong in the May 1997 issue of Training Magazine (page 69 – 79).

Training Cost-Benefit Analysis: An Admittedly Superficial Overview

(From the archives: This is a decades-old article by Michael Greer. Can you apply this to your current project planning? It’s up to you… Enjoy!)

Some numbers you will need:

Direct costs for each course, each person attending, each time the course is run. These costs include:
  • Instructional development
  • Materials
  • Travel
  • Room, equipment, catering
  • Instructor fees
  • Participant salaries
  • Fringe benefits
  • Other
Indirect costs (annual costs divided by the number of courses run) such as:
  • Administration (record keeping, etc.)
  • Clerical, typing, graphics, other support people
  • Ongoing course maintenance/development efforts
  • Catalogs, mailings, programs, shipping, telephone
  • Other
Performance indicators (numbers indicating how well workers are performing before and after the training). These measure performance in three dimensions: Quality:  error rate, number of changes or reworks required, waste, supervisor interventions, new business, return business, etc. Timeliness: completion rate (expected hours vs. actual hours), delivery rate (on-time deliveries vs. late deliveries), etc. Cost: budget variance (expected vs. actual costs), overtime, employee turnover, administration, etc.

The cost-benefit analysis process, in a very small nutshell:

  1. Track your training organization’s costs (direct and indirect) and gather data on performance indicators. (Hint: Always do this, since you never know when you’ll need the data or how you might want to analyze the data.)
  2. Define the question to be answered by the analysis. For example, “How much money could we save by providing a course on how to assemble widgets?” or “How much money are we saving by teaching managers to be better project planners?”
  3. Quantify the actual or potential benefits. (See performance indicators above.)
  4. Compare the benefits to the costs. (That is, figure return on investment or ROI.)
  5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 for other alternatives. Typical comparisons might include purchase of a packaged course instead of custom development, hiring trained people instead of training existing staff, job redesign instead of training, and so on.
  6. Decide which alternative is best for your organization and situation.
The bottom line: Analyzing the costs and benefits of training requires lots of quantifiable details about the way you do business, the way you develop and administer training, and the specific, measurable business results you want to achieve. It can’t be done in a “quick and dirty” fashion. You need plenty of historical data and you will need to quantify possible alternatives. _______________________
See also this PDF: