IIMS 96 contents
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Establishing a multimedia project team

Joanne Stubbs
Simsion Bowles and Associates
When planning to implement new technologies into an organisation it is important to have the support of all the business areas that may be affected by the technology. Multimedia and Technology Based Training (TBT) can reach into those areas of the business that have little to do with technology usage. There are two major issues that need to be addressed when planning for the implementation of multimedia within the workplace. Firstly, choose the projects to work on that have both the best payback and a high level of exposure in the rest of the business. Secondly, create a highly professional and credible project team that assists with obtaining user credibility with the technology. This session will provide attendees with a framework for ROI analysis of potential multimedia projects. It will also provide guidelines for project team development and hints to assist with the successful implementation of this complex and byte hungry technology. This includes ensuring that it fits the businesses IT infrastructure and architecture and stresses the importance of a specific multimedia development methodology.


In the current business picture, change is the only constant. Relentless competition makes quality and service improvements imperative to business survival. These improvements hinge on how competently employees can perform job related tasks, adjust to change, and profitably use new technology.

The two most important influential elements in every organisation's drive to achieve success are its Information Technology and its people. Although both are important in their own right, the major factor in the equation for success is how they interact. With technology expanding their options, more businesses are moving to Multimedia and Technology Based Training (TBT) [1].

Many organisations both internationally and within Australia, use Multimedia and Technology Based Training (TBT) to reduce costs and provide self paced learning. Researchers, businesses, and educational institutions have performed many studies relating to their effectiveness. Approximately 43% of US organisations with more than 100 employees use Multimedia or TBT. [2] Analysts predict that 75% of companies with more than 50 employees will use Multimedia or TBT by the year 2000. [3]

Multimedia and TBT offer extensive interaction and real time measurements of learning at lower costs. It also offers strategic business and training advantages, such as improved achievement and productivity, reduced learning curves, and increased employee satisfaction and motivation. These advantages equate to a higher level of customer service for both internal and external customers.

For optimum results, any business must consider how to

Description of the technology

What is computer based training (CBT)?

Computer Based Training (CBT) is used as an umbrella term for two subsidiary terms CAI is the mode in which the actual instruction takes place through the use of a personal computer or computer terminal. Due to technological advancements, that can be broadened to include the use of CD-ROM (Read Only Memory) and Interactive Video Disk.

CMI is where the management of the training program is carried out by the computer. It takes over all of the routine chores of keeping track of the trainees progress; their performance in training and, depending upon the type of assessment procedure, it can mark the trainees answers and give appropriate feedback. It is also capable of providing reports for each class of trainees as well as present individual profiles.

What is multimedia?

CBT's multimedia capabilities make it possible to link computers to other electronic devices that provide video, sound, text and graphics.

In the training area, this technique allows the learner to interact with the computer in order to select, control and pace the learning experience. The learning material can therefore be presented in a visually relevant and creative manner that can enhance the effectiveness and enjoyment of the learning process. Educational psychology contends that learners quickly process and retain multimedia education.

What is technology based training (TBT)?

Technology Based Training (TBT) uses technology to deliver interactive training solutions. These solutions are normally delivered as Interactive Multimedia or CBT.

TBT includes essential learning characteristics such as active student participation and immediate feedback of results, but it also takes into account essential parameters such as the student's individual differences or prior knowledge, learning speed and ability - enabling students to learn at their own pace.

The TBT approach reduces training costs substantially where large numbers of users or those geographically dispersed require training. It is also valuable in coping with the training implications of staff turnover.

Why use the technology?

When the use of the technology is justified

A business case for organisational adoption of the technology


Multimedia and TBT customises training to individual learners as well as standardising delivery and outcomes. It also guarantees a consistent quality of learning product every time, despite geographical location and hire dates. TBT can also reduce the chance of picking up bad habits from co-workers during ad hoc training. Because TBT courses are centrally developed, course content won't vary from instructor to instructor.

In the classroom, instructors tend to emphasise topics they are most familiar with, which skews course content. With TBT, differences in course makeup or instructors don't affect learning. Even the best instructors have "off" days and absences due to illness. TBT guarantees that delivery will always be the same. Consistent course information can serve as a solid base for further study, practice and application. This is where the appropriate selection of a development methodology will assist organisations in the delivery of a consistently good product despite staff turnover in the Training and Development group.

Figure 1

Criteria for selection

Organisations must take care in selecting the appropriate TBT systems. A study of 143 CBT development groups showed that the most important factors in CBT efficiency are the authoring tool used and the course developer's experience. [6]

An easy to use authoring tool can save a great deal of development time. For example, some authoring tools let course authors quickly toggle between learner view and editing mode, so they can test the course while writing it.

The selected TBT system must fit the organisations current and anticipated hardware and software architecture and system standards. For this reason, transportability - how easily courses can be transported across hardware platforms - may be important in selecting the best software authoring and presentation tool. Transportability is especially critical for organisations with a large, decentralised national user base. It is essential to select a product that will fit into the current or proposed organisational architecture. [7] The purpose of the implementation of multimedia and TBT is to reach as many staff as possible throughout the organisation. Current mainframe systems are now capable of supporting such a demand and future plans to decentralise the IT function onto Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) platforms should be incorporated into the selection of an appropriate TBT delivery mechanism.

One way of effectively determining what software tools are necessary to deliver TBT to the organisation is to compare the Reach and Range of the organisations current system to that of the business needs for TBT technology within the organisation.

The chart below shows that the current organisational system Reach and Range is more than capable of supporting the Reach and Range that will be required by the introduction of a Multimedia or TBT system to cope with any future needs.

Figure 2

Project objectives

Human resource estimates

It is important to note that all of these staff may not be required for every project and it is possible to find one skilled person who can fill more than one role. All are not required to be full time employees and can also work on multiple projects at once. The subject matter experts usually exist elsewhere in the business and can be seconded to projects when and where they will be most useful to the process.

Cost/benefit analysis

Nearly 80% of organisations using multimedia and TBT cite it as providing "more cost effective training" as a primary benefit. [8]

Classroom training carries a myriad of costs such as

Certain organisations have exhibited substantial savings from the implementation of TBT or CBT as a direct result of reduction in these associated training costs. The following are just a few examples of what large organisations have saved by implementing and using multimedia and TBT.

Jack E. Bowsher, retired Director of Education - External Programs, for IBM, notes that moving thousands of learner days from classrooms to self study or CBT has saved IBM more than $200 million each year. [9]

Canadian Imperial Bank of Toronto claims that CBT has reduced training costs by 45 to 60%, with employees learning 50% faster. [10]

It cost a major New York financial institution more to pay salaries to new hires waiting for stand up classes in one year than it cost to develop all of their CBT tutorials. [11]

An analysis of 18 studies revealed that, on average, CBT costs about 28% less per unit of effectiveness than conventional classroom instruction.[12] In one organisation's measurements of cost effectiveness, CBT was 80% more cost effective. [13]

Hardware, software and staffing costs

In assessing the costs associated with the implementation of multimedia and TBT within organisations, projects should be identified that will gain immediate benefit from multimedia and TBT's successful implementation. These projects are known, in marketing circles, as platform projects. Platform projects establish the infrastructure on which other offshoot projects can be developed at a later stage for a much smaller cost. Financial elements associated with the start up of platform projects should be taken into account when developing a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis for the implementation of the technology. This is also why the most beneficial should be chosen to kick off the technology within an organisation. It is easy to cost justify the large amount of investment in software and hardware if the project is large enough to have short term payback.

An example of a standard format for a project ROI analysis will be handed out as an attachment during the session. If this is then used in conjunction with the organisation's internal cost of debt and some basic formula in a spreadsheet for discounted cashflow, it is easy to demonstrate very attractive payback periods that even the finance department could not pick fault with.

Cost benefits that do not impact the bottom line

Many of Multimedia's and TBT's cost savings are difficult to measure. For instance, if employees are more competent with applications they use while interacting with clients eg. improved quality of service can lead to better retention of clients.

Intangible cost benefits

Multimedia and TBT benefits are difficult to measure unless they're properly defined, such as higher employee productivity and better morale caused by:

Multimedia and TBT's primary payback lies in its delivery. Once an organisation develops a TBT course, it can reap return on investment indefinitely. With classroom training, it incurs course development and administration costs repeatedly. With TBT, there is no delay for printing, distribution or delivery of course material.

Strategic benefits

Many competitive organisations are quickly realising that technology will never be able to sustain long term competitive advantage. The banking and airline industries are prime examples of this. Using the airline industry as an example short term competitive advantages can be gained, but is difficult to maintain these.

The airline industry is a low profit margin business, where competition is fierce and price wars are common. The new "Qantas" has heightened that competition. As Ansett moves to establish international routes, the adoption of world best practice will become more important. In this environment, a competitive edge could be expected from the use of new training technology to reduce costs, improve efficiency, productivity, service standards and importantly, profits.

Payback potential

Using a standard template for a "Work Value Model" it is possible to demonstrate marginal improvements for "Managers" and "Salaried Officers" productivity levels and more justifiable improvements for "Administrative Assistants", and "Clerks".

Managers 50%20%20%10%
Salaried officers 5%55%20%20%
Administrative assistants


The following marginal improvements are expected to be achieved as staff are gradually trained. These benefits would also be achieved over a shorter period of time due to the fact that staff can access the training at any time rather than wait for a trainer to be released to run a course of a maximum of 16 participants.

Managers 55%25%10%10%
Salaried officers 5%65%15%15%
Administrative assistants


Challenges and risks

Supplier dependency

When selecting the appropriate software and hardware applicable to an organisations needs, you have to be aware of not becoming locked in to a particular product, operating system or networking platform. If this occurs it will be difficult to expand the system to meet other users needs in the years to come.

Hardware and software upgrades

The hardware and software technology for the delivery of multimedia and TBT has reached a mature stage of development enabling certain delivery media to become more widely accepted, flexible and reliable than others. There will always be hardware upgrades associated with technology due to the rapid change that is inherent in the technology. Any organisation currently assessing the viability of multimedia and TBT is in a perfect situation as a new entrant into this semi-mature, yet expanding and established market, to take advantage of the experiences of other organisations. [15]

Authoring system flexibility

The selected software must be flexible enough to meet both the needs of the business and the training department and to fit into the existing or proposed IT infrastructure and architecture.


Accessibility to the system will be through various dumb and PC terminals will always be an issue unless you have a standardised hardware terminal platform. A mixture of terminals within a business often causes confusion when there are keys on different keyboards that are labelled differently and provide different functions. Tailoring of courseware will assist in handling this issue, but it may be appropriate to select software with this type of flexibility in mind.

Conclusions and recommendations

The following conclusions and recommendations have been drawn from analysis of multimedia and TBT and its applicability to a businesses training needs: If an organisation is to effectively expand the reach of its training mechanism without major expenditure on increased staffing levels, administration and materials it will have to seriously consider the use of multimedia and TBT as a viable and appropriate alternative.


  1. Dena A. Heathman and Brian H. Kleimer, Training and Technology: The Future is Now, Training and Development, 45 (September, 1991) pp 49-54.

  2. Chris Lee, Who gets Trained in What 1991, Training, 28 (October, 1991) pp 47-57.

  3. Dena A. Heathman and Brian H. Kleimer, Training and Technology: The Future is Now, Training and Development, 45 (September, 199 1) pp 49-54.

  4. William J. Bennett, ed., What Works: Research About Teaching and Learning, 2d ed. (Washington DC: US Department of Education, 1987).

  5. Peter Weill, Infrastructure (& Architecture), Information Systems Management class 12 (August 23, 1994), pp. 385-387.

  6. M. Obradovitch, S. E. Stephanou, Project Management: Risks and Productivity, (Daniel Spencer Publishers, Oregon 1990) pp. 85-89.

  7. Peter Weill, Infrastructure (& Architecture), Information Systems Management class 12 (August 23, 1994).

  8. Modified Rapture, CBT Directions (October 1988) pp. 10-11, based upon the Forth Annual Crwth Survey performed by Crwth Computer Coursewares, Santa Monica, CA.

  9. Jack E. Bowsher, Educating America: Lessons Learnt in the Nation's Corporations, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1989).

  10. Beatrice Jordan Garcia, Training the American Team, Edge, July/August, 1990 pp 47-53.

  11. Ralph E. Granger, Computer Based Training Works, Personnel Journal, 69 (September 1990) pp84-91.

  12. D. Fletcher, Cost Effectiveness of Computer Based Training, in Proceedings of the 1987 IEEE Systems Man and Cybernetics Conference (New York: The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, 1987).

  13. Judith Yates Borger, Banking on CBT, Training: The Magazine of Human Resources Development, 25, (September, 1988) S 10-12.

  14. Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, Putting the Balanced Scorecard to Work, Harvard Business Review (September-October 1993) pp. 134-147.

  15. Philip Kotler, Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control, (Prentice-Hall International 1991) pp. 40-60.

Please cite as: Stubbs, J. (1996). Establishing a multimedia project team. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds), The Learning Superhighway: New world? New worries? Proceedings of the Third International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 391-396. Perth, Western Australia, 21-25 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1996/ry/stubbs.html

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