The learning technology ecosystem has evolved.
What started as a simple Learning Management System (LMS) and an online learning library has expanded to a complex ecosystem including any number of potential tools and platforms, from Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) to content creation tools and social/collaboration environments. Along the way, Learning and Development (L&D) teams have had to evolve from learning experts to learning technologists.
Learning ecosystems are made more complex by the fact that they don’t exist in a vacuum, but are part of a much larger technology environment. For this reason, learning leaders must build strong partnerships with their colleagues from other parts of the business. From IT to Purchasing to Human Resources, these partnerships are critical to building, growing, and maintaining an effective learning technology stack.
Managing technology needs within L&D requires coordination across a lot of different teams. The good news is most organizations (62%) involve business stakeholders in their learning governance approach. This is critical because the more involved business stakeholders are in learning governance, the stronger the learning strategy tends to be and the faster the organization can resolve issues when they come up.
Poor partnerships between corporate Learning teams and IT can have significant consequences for maintaining an effective learning technology environment. One consequence is inefficient technology implementation, where the learning technology may not fully meet the team’s needs or integrate well with existing systems.
Additionally, limited technical support can result from a lack of understanding and prioritization, leading to delays in resolving issues and providing necessary updates. Inadequate training and user support may also arise, hindering the team’s ability to effectively utilize the technology. Security and data privacy risks can increase when collaboration is lacking, potentially exposing sensitive learner data.
Furthermore, a poor partnership can limit innovation and scalability, impeding the adoption of new technologies and hindering the organization’s overall Learning and Development efforts. To mitigate these consequences, it’s crucial for the Learning team and IT to establish open communication, collaboration, and shared decision-making to ensure the effective maintenance of the learning technology environment.
Beyond IT, partnerships with other key teams in the business like HR and Purchasing or Procurement are equally important. When it comes to the learning technology ecosystem, HR is a key stakeholder in identifying capabilities and defining use cases. They are closer to the needs of the workforce when it comes to learning and technology and should be brought in early and often as decisions are being made.
Procurement processes, particularly in large enterprise organizations, have been formalized and require strict compliance to approve large investments, which most technology is. Building partnerships with Procurement often looks like education. Educate them on the work that you do and why you need the technology. Let them educate you on their policies and processes. Most Procurement professionals are more than willing to help you craft your business case to help you succeed in your goals.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- What are the specific goals and objectives of the learning technology, and how can internal partnerships contribute to those goals?
- Which departments or teams within the company have complementary expertise or resources that can enhance the learning program?
- How can the Learning team align their goals with the strategic priorities of the company, and which internal partners can help facilitate this alignment?
- What are the potential barriers or challenges that may arise when building internal partnerships, and how can they be addressed or mitigated?
- How can the Learning professionals ensure effective communication and collaboration with internal partners throughout the selection and implementation of the learning technology?
BRANDON HALL GROUP POV
Here are 10 tactics for building effective internal partnerships:
- Identify shared goals and interests — Look for overlaps between departments or teams and build partnerships around mutually beneficial outcomes. Understanding each other’s priorities is key.
- Improve communication — Open and frequent communication helps build trust and alignment. Designate partnership liaisons, hold regular check-ins, and create processes for sharing information.
- Highlight interdependencies — Make clear how each partner relies on and impacts the success of the other. This interconnection can motivate collaboration
- Establish clear roles and responsibilities — Define each partner’s contributions and expectations upfront to avoid confusion. Revisit as needed.
- Build personal relationships — Take time to understand each partner’s working styles and values. Personal connections strengthen partnerships.
- Celebrate shared successes — Recognize achievements made possible by the partnership. This reinforces the value of working together.
- Engage leadership support — Secure buy-in and advocacy from senior leaders. Their endorsement sets a collaborative tone.
- Allow for flexibility — Adjust the partnership as needs and circumstances evolve. An adaptable approach helps manage change.
- Create accountability structures — Establish shared metrics, reporting processes, and oversight mechanisms to track progress.
- Focus on mutual benefit — Partnerships should serve all stakeholders’ interests. They must be win-win to be sustainable.
Building effective internal partnerships is crucial for maintaining a successful learning technology ecosystem. The evolving nature of learning technology requires collaboration and strong relationships with various departments within an organization. By identifying shared goals, improving communication, and establishing clear roles and responsibilities, organizations can ensure the seamless integration of learning technology. Celebrating shared successes, engaging leadership support, and focusing on mutual benefit further strengthen these partnerships. With a strategic approach and continuous adaptation, organizations can leverage internal partnerships to drive innovation, enhance learning experiences and achieve their overall Learning and Development goals.