3 Keys for a Successful VR Training Pilot Project

Running a VR training pilot project is an exciting opportunity that comes with a lot of choices. Each organization is different but understanding some of the commonalities will help your virtual reality pilot succeed. 

In this post, we’ll focus on three key factors: 

  1. Choosing the right scenario or procedure. 
  2. Measuring outcomes. 
  3. Finding the right VR studio for your needs.

Let’s dive in!

1. Choosing the Right Procedure

Most VR pilot projects focus on one specific procedure. Therefore, choosing the right one is paramount. Identify a procedure where learning outcomes will have an immediate and measurable impact. Here are some common indicators to help you find the right procedure, within your organization, for your VR pilot:

  • Long Training Time – The current process sees learners needing to redo the training several times before they can perform the task. It may take learners days or weeks of training before they can consistently do their job. This might be training for a new employee. If this type of training happens often and there is a desire for a faster process, then this is a good candidate for your VR pilot.
  • Training Lag – There is a lag between when training happens and when employees perform the task for which they have been trained. This can happen when instructors are needed for live training and are only available at certain times. This often means employees need to be retrained and instructors need to be available again for that to happen. This is costly and causes a delay between when the job needs to get done and when it actually does. If your VR pilot can allow for trainees to get the training they need on-demand, this is a good choice.
  • Travel for Training – People are being flown somewhere for training. This can happen when a facility has been built for certain types of training, for a training conference or if a trainer needs to go from location to location to do their job. All are expensive. The many costs of flights, hotels, food, cars, instructors and facilities can quickly add up. If your VR pilot can remove the need for travel, consider choosing this procedure.
  • Requests for Help Training – New employees often ask more experienced employees for help performing a task which is new to them. Every time this happens, this means two employees aren’t as productive as they could be. Taking a skilled employee away from their work reduces productivity overall. The less a new employee needs to do this, the more productivity will increase. If your VR pilot can help new employees get the skills they need without interrupting more experienced employees, this should be an option.

In addition, a good candidate procedure will have multiple, complex steps, is done with some frequency and by as wide an audience as possible within your organization. This will help the most number of people see the value in using the new approach (i.e. VR Training). Remember, your VR pilot is about immediate and measurable impact. Let that guide your choice.

2. Measuring Outcomes – VR Pilot Program vs the Current Training

Any VR pilot worth investing in will track learner outcomes. Having that data will allow you to improve your VR training as you move forward. However, organizations often do not have comparable metrics for their current training. Measuring your VR pilot learning outcomes vs the current learning outcomes is how to show return on investment (ROI). 

Showing ROI is the most important metric for determining the success of your VR pilot. In order to do that, we need to answer some questions about the current training process. Then, we will identify the potential improvement that we want to measure. Let’s consider those two things and understand how they relate to the types of scenarios described in the previous section.

  • Long Training Time
    • Questions for the Current Process – How long does it take an employee to reliably perform the given task after they have been trained? How many times does an employee need to go through the training before they can reliably perform the given task? 
  • Improvement to Measure – Your VR pilot should show that learners can reliably perform the given task in less time than by going through the current training. The more time saved, the higher the value.
  • Training Lag 
    • Questions for the Current Process – How often do trainees need to be retrained due to a lag between when they receive training and when they need to perform the given task? How much does each training session cost? Are there delays between when a job needs to be done and getting employees retrained? If so, how long? What is the financial impact of that delay? 
  • Improvement to Measure – You want your VR pilot to show that trainees can get the training they need on-demand with VR headsets. This will let them do their job when required with significantly less downtime and no external dependencies.
  • Travel for Training
    • Questions for the Current Process – What does it cost to send an employee somewhere for training? How often does that employee need to be sent? How many employees per month/year need to travel for training?
  • Improvement to Measure: If the trainee can learn the same skills in VR without the need to travel, it will eliminate travel expenses (e.g. flights, hotels, meals, training facility, taxis, etc…). This typically results in a significant cost savings.
  • Request for Help Training
    • Questions for the Current Process – How often does an experienced worker stop working to help a new worker? How many hours per day? How often does a new worker request help from an experienced worker? On what procedures is this most common? Of those, which has the highest impact on productivity?
  • Improvement to Measure: You want to measure if new employees will be able to perform the task without needing to ask for help. VR allows trainees to access the training they need when they need it. Overall productivity should increase.

3. Pick the Right VR Studio to Help You Build Your VR Pilot

There are a lot of VR studios who can build training. Not all VR studios are equal. They often have different technical strengths and have chosen to focus on specific capabilities. It is important to understand what you need so you can choose the right partner. Of course, they should have experience. However, there are many other factors to consider. Here are a few:

  • Procedure Change Management: This is the most overlooked aspect of VR pilot projects. Anyone who is doing their second VR project wishes they’d asked about this for their first project. 

The best way to futureproof your investment is to have a web-based authoring tool that allows you to add and modify existing procedures within your VR pilot project, even after it has been deployed on headsets. This means you won’t have to ask the developer, wait for code changes and redeploy the VR app for each and every change. If you can avoid this time-consuming and costly process, you’ll be way ahead of the game. Without this, each new procedure will likely cost the same or more as the first. That fact will make it difficult to get past the pilot stage. Even if your VR pilot is deemed a success.

  • Content Ownership: Who owns the content built for your VR pilot? Different studios have different models and content ownership varies. Is the procedure common to your industry or specific to your organization? If content ownership is important to you, ask what their policy is.
  • Common Goals: Can the studio help you demonstrate ROI? They should be able to assist you in this effort and tell you how they can. It should be a common interest that you both share.
  • Learner Analytics: What kind of analytics can they collect? They should be collecting data from your learners. What do you want to do with this data? Does it need to be in a specific format like xAPI? Maybe this is important for your VR pilot, maybe not. If it is, make sure to ask.
  • CGI vs 360° video: Which format best suits your needs: a 3D virtual scene or a 360° video shoot? Will your scene always remain static or will it change? Is it important that your learners can interact with objects in the VR scene? Think through the learner’s experience beforehand and discuss it with the VR studio. Then decide which format is right for your organization.
  • Content Delivery: How is the VR content delivered? Do they have a platform for delivering content? Can it be integrated with your LMS? Is single sign-on (SSO) important? Know what is necessary for your organization.
  • Hardware: What VR headsets would they recommend? Why? Are there any IT hurdles that need to be addressed? They should be able to guide you through these questions.

Next Steps

Running a VR training pilot project can be very rewarding. The benefits of immersive training are being realized across a wide variety of industries. Knowing you are moving your organization forward and training your people with the best available tools is certainly gratifying. Making smart choices early on will put you on the right path. 

You will be a long way towards ensuring the success of your VR pilot if you can:

  • Choose the right procedure
  • Have a way to show ROI through measuring the learning outcomes of your VR pilot and comparing them with the current outcomes
  • Pick the right VR studio for your needs.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about VR training pilot projects, please reach out and we would be happy to continue the conversation with you.

Peter Wittig

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