subject matter expert

Tips to Work Effectively with Subject Matter Experts

One of the challenges that many people seem to face when developing eLearning is around working more effectively with their Subject Matter Experts. This post shares what we often hear in our Certified Articulate Training and eLearning Design Essentials workshops and offers advice to navigate through some of these challenges.

Good Project Management

It’s important to establish clear expectations and milestones at the begging of the project so everyone is on the same page. Identify when and where you will need the SME and schedule meeting times the some meeting times. Let them know that you are also mindful of their workload and agree on the minimum times to meet. We use an AGILE model based loosely around the SAM instructional design model to make sure our projects run as smoothly as possible.

Be Prepared

Chances are the SMEs top priority is not your eLearning module so your meetings will not always rate so highly on their priority list. I also find that if I’m prepared and have done my research on their job role/subject area that we get the most out of our sessions and usually this results in less back and forth communication. Having a good, direct list of questions for each meeting, also helps you sift through the nice to know͛ information to find the need to know information. There’s lots of sample question lists online.

Understand things from their perspective and vice versa

I’ve found that having an understanding and appreciation for their content, job role and how it’s been used in the past is a big step towards having a positive, productive working relationship. I also think it’s important that the SME sees things from my perspective and understands what my job role is. I do this through showing them examples of online modules that we’ve created in the past.

Keep it Simple

I think the key component to creating a good working relationship is to make it as straightforward and simple as possible. I always look for any ways that I can make the job on their end easier e.g. providing templates for scenarios, using simple review tools or working around their schedules as much as I can.

I’ve also found it never hurts to go into an SME meeting armed with two coffees and a box of treats (wink wink)!

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