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MOVE INTO DIGITAL

Moving an established learning programme online

We’re launching a series of candid interviews with past clients who are brave enough to share the ups and downs of their journeys. Some of the interviews draw on our case studies; some are anonymous. Here, we hear how it felt to move an established learning programme online.

Use this time of change to challenge some of the old ways of working: what are you doing just because it has ‘always been done like that?’

Interviews with past clients - Client Confidential - DesparkWe asked: You already had a successful business offering face-to-face learning. Why did you feel now was the right time to take it online?

The programme was successful and our clients were pleased with our content, however due to how administratively heavy the process was, we were losing our appeal as a provider due to the length of time it took for us to support everyone from start to finish. Also, we could only serve people geographically nearby, and we knew we could reach many more if we scaled our service.

How did you start looking for the right partner? Did you know what you were looking for?

We thought a lot internally about trying to build our own digital team, but considering our lack of background in this area, we decided to look for agencies. Writing a brief with little technical background was a bit challenging, but my advice is that you do not have to make it at all technical. Instead, it is much more useful to be as descriptive as you can about what the product actually needs to do and the actions that your users need to carry out. Providing a user flow of the current offline process is very helpful for the dev team.

What struck you about talking to different agencies?

Three things. 

  1. Firstly, invite agencies to ask as many questions as they need to to get an understanding of the product: the types of questions that the team ask is also a good indication of how they work and how they understand your business 
  2. The briefing process also gives a good sense of the agency’s way of working, and how they may fit yours
  3. When looking for agencies something that stood out to me as crucial is working culture. Digital transformation can feel daunting, as does any type of change, so having an agency that can truly partner with you and have open, honest discussions is important. 

And what drew you to Despark?

I appreciated the transparency of Despark and how you were not just there to build our product but were also there to act as advisers that helped us to work out our best plan of action to make this product happen. You respected that we had the sector expertise, and you had the digital expertise.

Did anything surprise you about the Discovery process?

An interesting part for us was thinking about the digital options that were available for each of our core services. It really pushed us to think about our current offering and how we could update or improve the way that we delivered some of our content to suit a digital audience.

One key insight was the revelation that just because we had always delivered a piece of content in a one-to-one did we have to exactly replicate this for the online platform? My advice is to use this time of change to challenge some of the old ways of working: what are you doing just because it has ‘always been done like that?’

How did you prioritise features in development?

We had to be brutal about what is actually just a nice-to-have. Here, Depark added great value in helping us to work out what our core offering is, and how to add other features over time.

In the current situation, moving fast is probably a priority, so think about what in your current offering is the most essential. If all other parts of your service were taken away, what would be the key thing that kept the service running?

Anything you would change if you had the chance to start again?

Well, we were pretty ambitious! I would start with a smaller product and test this on a group of participants first. When creating a digital product, something that is crucial is making sure that you are able to get a first version to your users as quickly as possible, and Despark were really clear on explaining the reasoning behind this. We did push back, though, as it’s so tempting to try to do everything at once.

What are your top tips to others looking to start their process of digital transformation?

  • Have lots of discussions at the very beginning, including as many stakeholders as possible. It’s really important to understand everyone’s roles and how the product will fit with their daily tasks when everyone is working in a more digital way.
  • Start small, and grow features as you need to: identify the one core service that is really important to your users and build that first. Getting that out there is way more important than having the most beautiful feature-rich app out there!
  • Trust your development team to help you prioritise features and build a roadmap. 
  • Embrace change. It can feel uncomfortable to begin with, but when you start seeing results and realising how much easier it is to run, you’ll be glad you took this step.
  • Think about the clients that you are working with or selling into from the very start! What are their requirements for a digital product? Are there security implications to offering a digital product, and what do they need you to include to ensure it meets their needs?

How did going live change your business?

The benefits of moving our service digital were far beyond our initial goals. We were able to:

  • Offer the programme to more people 
  • Offer the programme to a wider variety of people 
  • Easily adapt our service content to align with clients needs in a matter of days, rather than weeks
  • Deliver the service to a wider geographical reach 
  • Develop new product offerings 
  • Take on more clients


Here at Despark, we’re experts at helping you navigate the complex journey of digital transformation. Take a look at some resources to help you take the first step and if you’d like to talk over an idea, whether it’s brand new or a way to transform your business to digital, we’re here to listen.