How to Deal with an Upset Client in the Analysis Phase

Hi Travis,

I looked at our general timeline that we discussed during our kick-off call and noticed that we're already two weeks behind schedule, but have spent over $5,000 more than we planned to by the end of the analysis phase. I'd appreciate an explanation ASAP.

-Johnny Yen

Dear Johnny,

Thanks for emailing me. I hope that little Johnny Jr. got into the scouts for this summer, I’ve always believed that boys need to spend sometime in the woods. As for me, I’ve been really busy but good, Wolf is growing up crazy fast, I can’t believe it sometimes. Are we still on for drinks this Friday? I found a great little place on 4th and Broadway, you’ll love it; red leather couches and it pretty much has every scotch ever made.


Let’s talk business. I will be the first to admit that we are behind schedule and we a bit over budget. I understand that you are concerned. Getting the analysis phase of the project right can save money and time in the future phases of the project. I have some good news I want to share, we originally thought that the end-users needed an hour long training to achieve the training goal of using the new ERP database. However after interviewing and analyzing your end-users we have discovered that almost all of them have a sufficient understanding of Excel, meaning that spreadsheet module can be shorted or removed completely since the functionally and equations are the same in both applications. This will bring our training down to 45 minutes and will save time and money in the design and development stages of the process.


Through a thorough analysis of the learning tools we may have just dodged another bullet.  I discovered that the interactive video tool you wanted to use does not support captions and is not screen reader accessible. I know you have at least two end-users in your organization who are low vision or blind and you have one hard of hearing. Under 508 and ADA we are required by law to make all of our online learning accessible to all end-users regardless of disability. I know of more than one organization that has been sued for ADA violations. It would have been more costly to backtrack on the learning tools or at worst get sued than nixing those non-accessible tools now. Good thing we tested those tools in the analysis phase for accessibility.


We will be on budget and on time after removing the unnecessary spreadsheet module. That will cut down the development and design time by 25% saving both time and money. This will bring our total costs back on track and our release date back to the original time frame of early August.


We need to set up review two times with all of the stakeholders on after the initial development is done and then a review of the revised training. It is important that we schedule this review session months in advance because we will need at least 3 hours of everyone’s time for every 45 minutes of training. Please send me the emails of all the people you would like in the review session and I will set it up.


So, it looks like after the analysis phase of the project we discovered some important information about your learners. The most important is that we can remove one of the modules and we also discovered that one of your learning tools cannot be used, I have another tool in mind that will meet the organizations needs. After the analysis phase I believe that we can cut time and money on the design and development phase and have enough time for revisions based on user testing and stakeholder reviews. The overall budget and timeframe for release is intact.


Thanks again for reaching out and being on top of the budgets. One more thing, I got four courtside tickets for the Lakers game next Thursday, let me know if you and Jane are free. Should be a good game. We can chat more about this over drinks. See you soon.


-Travis Lee


Lessons Learned:

Be nice and remind the client that you are friends and to be compassionate and sensitive that we are all people dealing with both work and life.

Explain that the client that the analysis phase of an eLearning project cannot be rushed. Understanding the learning needs of the endusers is just as important as creating an amazing learning experience.

ADA and 508 reviews save time and money in the development process. By reviewing tools for accessibly in the analysis phase of a project you will be able to determine what tools can be used for your project. The first thing that you as an ID should look for are vendor VPAT documents, after reviewing the VPAT you should also conduct an internal review of the tools. The things you should look for are, captioning support, screen reader compatibility, ensuring that all images are alt tagged and that colors of the interface have enough contrast. I would also recommend testing on a smart phone with a blind user. If you are not able to scan yourself it is recommended that you work with a local disability office that has blind users who can use screen readers.

By identifying accessibility issues in the analysis phase you can design your learning activities based on tools that can legally be used. If you ignore accessibility in the analysis phase it will be very costly to go back and make your learning modules accessible without revisiting the analysis phase which will cost you both time and money.