A Guide to Gathering and Organizing Content from Subject Matter Experts
Book Cover & Preview Text
The Perfect SME has three essential qualities. The Perfect SME is:
• The most knowledgeable and articulate person about that topic in the organization
• One who has, or will be given, the time to work with you
• Willing and possibly looking forward to being part of the training design process
If your SME is missing any of these three ingredients, you may have trouble. If that happens and you don’t have an alternate SME, we offer tips and tools throughout this book to help you negotiate those issues effectively.
First, whether you’ve been dealt the Perfect SME or not, you’ll need to establish deadlines and clear lines of communication for fact-checking and sign-offs at the very beginning of your relationship. It is unlikely the SME will be tracking those things, and you may not have other supports in place to do it for you. Your project scope or Project Charter should include details about deadlines and lines of responsibility that can help define the relationship.
As the instructional designer on the project, you will find yourself managing up, managing laterally and possibly managing outside your department to make things happen. Setting expectations and deadlines up front will make the process smoother and less harrowing for you.
Which brings us back to the trouble with SMEs…yes, even the perfect ones who meet all three of the essential qualities.
The trouble with SMEs starts when experts look up from the petri dish or financial spreadsheet and try to tell you what they are doing.
Gathering information about a subject and collecting that information from experts is the core process involved in writing a valuable corporate training program. When an instructional designer is writing training that is dependent on the knowledge of others, it is helpful to have schedules and plans for communication, accuracy, and accountability. Working with SMEs offers a framework on how to connect with the correct experts and uncover what they know. The book then gives you the tools and checklists necessary for getting the most out of your subject matter expert.
About the Author
Peggy Salvatore has written many training programs in healthcare as well as on general business topics. Her background includes extensive research, analysis and writing for professional journal articles, white papers and executive background briefings on a broad range of health policy issues. She was a political reporter and columnist and covered the 1988 Republican National Convention before leaving daily journalism for business. She holds an MBA with a concentration in strategy and economics. Peggy is the mother of three wonderfully grown children and lives midway between Philadelphia and New York City.