The ECA – Enterprise Content Architecture

I’ve been designing performance-based T&D since 1979, and modular curriculum architectures, large and small, since 1982.
I’ve done 74 formal, performance-based Training Needs Analyses (TNAs) or what I call Curriculum Arcitecture Designs – CADs to-date, mostly for Fortune 500 firms’ most critical performers. When informal learning would no longer do. When learning by chance was no longer tolerable to the Enterprise for a target audience or audiences.

As an external consultant and partner in a HPT/ISD shop with upwards of 20 consultants, I had to create common/standard ISD processes so that our 1st CAD made sense with the 5th or 10th or 20th CAD, AND that all of the Modular Curriculum Development/Acquisition – MCD projects (and Instructional Activity Development/Acquisition – IAD as well) that followed on could build out those CADs in a modular, platform-design approach, and continuously demonstrated that the increased, appropriate re-use of content was feasible and do-able…not just theoretical.

A quote from one of my clients about the PACT Processes from 1999….

“At a time when everyone is ‘chunking’ content, the PACT Process clarifies the relationship between chunks of content as well as specifying the chunk itself.

The value of the PACT Processes is that we get an integrated architecture that enables us to select and prioritize learning solution development for both the short and long term.

In a business that needs to address market/product change, with PACT the organization knows what to keep, what to change, and what to build.”

My partners, staff consultants and clients and I typically found, where multiple CADs were conducted, a minimum of 25% overlap of the “content requirements” from one CAD Target Audience, to another within a client’s enterprise…and upwards of 75% overlap on closely related jobs in terms of either the function…and/or the process. I’ll be back to more about shareable content versus unique content later.

Given the performance orientation benefits alone, the savings from AVOIDED REDUNDANCY alone, see the cover page bottom graphic of ROI Sources, provided the ROI for “going PACT” for them.

Note: they would often employ us to do their CADs and some of the follow-on MCD/IAD Phases 1-3 – and they would use their ISD staff to conduct MCD Phases 4-6 for building out the T&D content, and IAD Phases 4-6 for building out the Qualification/Certification Tests, in support of their corporate drive to reduce the-cycle-time-to-competence for their key staff.

ECA Utilities
Are primarily to facilitate Re-Use by creating a logical organization scheme for storing and accessing content. All content. Awareness building Communications…Knowledge building Education…Skills building Training….training for today and/or development for some future job, project, role, task….

By Learners in a PULLMode. They need to find stuff just-in-time-right-now. Doesn’t it make sense that what they want and need is or are Tier 4 and 5 content? To perform a Task or Task-set to produce an output…that is an input somewhere downstream…or as multiple inputs to multiple processes.

By Learners in a PUSHMode – where they are directed at what T&D to take/when/etc. by their/the prior planning efforts. Or by PUSH Learners going outside the box of their T&D Path and searching for content to help them become aware, knowledgeable or skilled regarding an enabler or specific performance. Or both.

For developers and authors for facilitating more appropriate re-use “as is” or “after modification” – meaning that a new derivative is about to be created. Where to store that? How to share that for even more re-use AI or AM. Creating more derivatives. Back to this “more derivatives” later.

I created this “content data logic” so that I could avoid having to use Boolean Logic in my searches…which can be more difficult to use than just going ahead and building redundant content…and ignoring worries about future redundant costs being built in for owning redundant content – be danged!

Boolean Logic used by my client as they conducted the bulk of the ETA effort (Existing T&D Assessment) in my 73rd CAD project, uncovered hundreds of references to Active Listening, alone. A further refinement to those words in the title itself…narrowed his additional assessment chores down to only 27 on-line modules. And the rest of the titles’ words, in most cases, gave him “no clue” as to what the slant/spin on the topic (good since the days of Socrates) was going to be in this version.

And many, many other examples of the redundancy of the existing set of curricula were uncovered, as it often happens with those of my CAD clients that have a lot of content, and have almost always had a lot of content in their total, unwieldy, set of “out-of-control” content.

ECA Structure is “Like” an SKU System for Your LCMS/LMS
Or more correctly…is “as” an SKU—stock keeping unit system. A Dewey Decimal systems. One client group likened it to the shelves of a refrigerator.

I think of it as a series of content cubby-holes as in the “roll-top desks” of an earlier time…or the shelves in my basement filled with the hundreds of binders that those of us in the business more than a decade, have.

At the top I’d keep the orientation stuff. Provide a large context, the big picture of the enterprise, the business unit/division, function, department, processes and teams that YOUR JOB is here to support/enable/lead…plus the content to “handle the HR paperwork kinds of stuff” that happens early in an engineered on-boarding process…that is anchored in the enterprise processes and the enterprise process architecture.

Next I’d keep all the advanced organizers…those are organized by AoP and key Output/Tasks. They don’t teach any learner the “how tos” they cover the “what it is” including the typical gaps, what enablers are required – including but not limited to the K/S enablers.

Tier 1 Reflects the Enterprise Structure
Tier 1 holds all of our orientations to the enterprise, its business units/divisions, its function and departments, and its teams and jobs. Here is where you’d find…

“An Orientation to the Sales Function”

…among other “level by level” orientations higher and lower on your organization chart than the “Sales Function” (which could vary based on who is on top in your view…owners and executives…or customers and the front-line associates….

Tiers 2-4-5 Reflect Target Audiences from the EPA—Enterprise Process Architecture Structure
The Lessons and Instructional Activities found in this portion of the ECA reflect the data from the Performance Model. Here is where you’d find…

A Tier 2 on “An Overview of the Sales RFQ Response Process”
A Tier 4 on “How To: Responding to Customer Requests for Information”
A Tier 5 on “How To: Sales RFQ Response Process”

The second Lesson of multiple “IAs” is a Tier 4 because the enterprise Engineers, in addition to Sales staff, may be involved in that performance. And others in Marketing.

Tier 3 Reflects the 17 Enabling KS Categories Structure
Here is where you might find a collection of Lessons and Instructional Activities (real content), AND Instructional Activity Specs, Lesson Maps and Event Maps (content not yet built) designs.

And here is where you would find most of your Legacy Content (Pre-PACT).
Here is where you’d find…
“HT- Active Listening Basics—Good Since the days of Socrates”
…as well as…
“HT- The Sales RFQ Response Process—Competitive and Compliant ”

…as well as versions that are subsets of the HT version…for the the Awareness which is a subset of the Knowledge level…which is a subset of the HT level.

Those are just two of many enablers for our learner…someone in the Sales function…and soon you’ll decide what type of Sales job we’re building up to here….

Access by “PULL” Target Audiences
PULL Target Audiences, in our definition, are “mostly or totally” less critical than the PUSH Target Audiences. In our approach, in serving the specific needs of the PUSH audiences, we can create modular content for the PULL audiences…if we design it correctly. But PUSH Audiences may have needs not (yet) addressed…and then they become PULL

And here is where you would find most of your Legacy Content (Pre-PACT).

Pull Audiences might have participated in some of the Lesson titles we have presented here…and IF THEY DIDN’T FINISH THEIR MODULES…we wouldn’t care.

Access by “PUSH” Target Audiences
PUSH Audiences that have participated in some of these Lesson titles, per their Individual T&D Planning efforts based on their T&D Path and current K/Ss and upcoming assignments…and IF THEY DIDN’T FINISH THEIR MODULES…we would really care. PUSH audiences involved in both very formal learning as well as the ubiquitous informal learning we’ve all been doing since before we started crawling.

Access by PACT Analysts, Designer & Developers
Able to avoid complex Boolean Logic search schemes Developers can more easily find content by it’s topical nature….Legal content and designs for Legal content (not yet built/bought) for Re-Use. Able to develop content as Infos, Demos, and Appos (Application Exercises) in the modular, platform design approach of our Event Maps and Lesson Maps, with their “plug-n’play” capability, redundant content development, with all of its associated, additional life-cycle costs, is MINIMIZED, if not eliminated.

Tagging for SCORM, etc. is done in the development phases of MCD/IAD with your authoring tools. Tagging for Re-Use and Performance Impact in PACT happens earlier, during design, and is accomplished when we number all of our Instructional Activities and Lessons…putting them into our inventory scheme…the ECA.

The PACTLogic of the Enterprise Content Architecture is intended to facilitate Re-Use of Content APPRPRIATELY! Not a forced re-use. And not a forced shareablity that ensure generic and not specific content.

Future issues of Pursing Performance…both the Newsletter and the Blog…will address this further.

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