Agile Contract Management Workshop in Virtual Classroom
On 30 March 2020, 50 employees from the Central Provident Fund Board, which is part of the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore, logged in to their computers, laptops or even tablets to participate in their first ‘virtual classroom’ training. In a world in which Agile Development becomes more and more prevalent, CPF had identified that they would like to learn more about the procurement and contract management aspects of Agile Development contracts.
In Agile Developments (which originate primarily from the IT domain), not all requirements are specified at the beginning of the project, but these requirements are further refined in an integrative and incremental approach throughout the project. Because of the nature of agile practices, different procurement and contract management practices are required. In order to manage this effectively, knowledge about Agile terminology and an Agile Project Management Framework was required.
For the reason, CPF started to source for a supplier who could fulfill this requirement, and a procurement process was initiated for ‘Training on Procurement and Agile Development Contracts.’ After a public tender process, Cybiant was selected as the preferred vendor to design and host this training course.
The souring and procurement of the training courses started in 2019 and took six months to complete. As target delivery date for the workshop, Monday March 30th, 2020 was identified. Nobody could ever have foreseen that at that particular date, the world would be consumed by the COVID-19 coronavirus, and that large group gatherings (and especially training courses) would be banned.
In the week prior to March 30th, various options were discussed. The course could be postponed, but CPF indicated that, because of expected new Agile Development contracts, time was of the essence.
Cybiant therefore suggested to host this course as a ‘Virtual Classroom’ course, with live instructor and participation ‘at-distance’ by the 50 delegates of the CPF. Although this was not how the course was originally planned, all parties agreed that this would be the best solution given the current circumstances.
In the two weeks up to the training course, Cybiant took the following steps to ensure that the course could be delivered successfully:
Design Content for Virtual Classroom Delivery
The Delivery of Virtual Classroom is fundamentally different than a face-to-face classroom training. The instructor cannot see facial expressions and cannot shorten or stretch certain topics. Additionally, many studies have shown that being in an online course for an entire day makes people lose attention. Any virtual course therefore needs to be designed in a modular approach, with each module 90 minutes in duration. Cybiant designed the following modules for the Agile Contract Management workshop:
09:00 – 10:30 Module 1 – Agile Fundamental Concepts 10:30 – 11:00 Morning Break 11:00 – 12:30 Module 2 – Traditional Contracts vs. Agile Contract Models 12:30 – 13:30 Lunch Break 13:30 – 15:00 Module 3 – Drafting Agile Tender and Tender Documentation 15:00 – 16:30 Afternoon Break 16:30 – 17:00 Module 4 – Selecting the Best Supplier
With the schedule above, the maximum duration of every module is 90 minutes of which the last 10 minutes are fulfilled with a Q&A session.
Focus on Engagement
In virtual classroom training, in which the instructor cannot see any facial expressions or determine whether people are comprehending all the materials, measuring engagement is crucial. The Cybiant Learning Platform actively measure the engagement from participants and provides a ‘score’ of every participant on how ‘active’ they are in the virtual class.
Engagement is determined by participants who actively answer questions, react on other peers or who engage with the course materials actively. In order to focus on engaging, Cybiant chose the following strategy:
Design and ask participants questions throughout the course – for this 1-day workshop, 50 questions were designed. Some questions can be knowledge related (for which multiple-choice is a good format), but you can also ask people to think and express their opinions (for which open ended questions are preferred).
Let people know upfront that engagement is being measured. At the beginning of the course, we explained the concept of engagement and that it would be measured.
Plan a Technology Overview and Demo Session
Many people who participate in virtual courses feel way more ‘comfortable’ with the format of a virtual course if they have complete confidence in the technology. Participant should know all the different features of the learning platform, what each button does and how they can interact with their classroom peers. Additionally, this is also a great way to test whether basic features (audio, video and connectivity) are working properly.
In order to accomplish this, Cybiant hosted a second 30 minute Technology and Demo session one week before the actual course dates. This provided all participants the possibility to ‘test’ the online learning platform.
One of the additional benefits of hosting a Technology Overview session is that it greatly reduces the probability that technical ‘hick-ups’ disturb the beginning of the virtual classroom. If technology problems impact the beginning of the classroom, the overall experience of the delegates tends to decline rapidly. This especially holds for large virtual classrooms, with more than 20 participants.
Using the approach above, the training was successfully completed on March 30th 2020. Overall, the course was scored with an average of 4.78 / 5 by all the participants. And because the feedback for the ‘new’ form of course delivery was so successful, we decided to write this case study for the benefit of other organizations.
Feedback about the course materials and approach included:
“The content of the handouts was clear, concise and just right for a 1 day training. The course objective was met and sample templates of an Agile contract and questionnaires was provided for reference.”
Feedback about the Cybiant trainer and team included:
“Jan-Willem Middelburg demonstrated good knowledge on Agile and he is able to communicate the concepts clearly to us. He is also familiar with Government procurement sourcing methodologies and is able to relate it back to Agile contract models. Jan-Willem is well-prepared and had organized the training at a comfortable pace for the participants. The support from Cybiant’s backend team was great and they responded to email queries swiftly too. Well done team!”
Feedback about the training platform and software included:
“Many of us are not familiar with this software application for a webinar training. Cybiant initiated demo sessions with the participants before the actual day to ensure the training goes well and smooth. The questions posted by the trainer at various intervals ensure constant engagement with participants. This virtual platform for learning is a good approach and the application used is interactive and user-friendly too! The summary report and analytics shared after the training provides useful data for further analysis.”
The objective of this case study is to share our experience in designing and hosting successful virtual training courses. If you would like to have any additional information about course design, engagement or virtual classrooms in general, please feel free to contact us.