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Working with SMEs

SMEs, pronounced “smees” or the singular form “smee” stands for Subject Matter Expert. SMEs are valuable members for any learning design team. Their experience and extensive knowledge on the subject can be invaluable. However, working with SMEs can be a challenge, either it’s a positive or negative experience. If you want to avoid issues while working with SMEs—keep reading.

Here is what you must know when working with SMEs:


1. Know the Type of SME You’re Working With

One thing is for certain, know the type of SME before you work with them. This has always stuck with me ever since I read Archana Narayan’s blog post titled, “How Important is the SME?” In her post she classifies the SME and found five prominent personas that emerge. Whether working with the Temperamental SME or the Absentee SME, they do play an important role in the construction of online learning.

2. Know How to Leverage Your SME’s Value

My most valuable thing I’ve learned when working with SMEs is using the Viral Notebook blog steps to maximize SMEs. They emphasize, that utilizing the SME is vital to eLearning development and use these “Three Steps to Maximize Your SME“:

Step 1: Establish Clear Expectations

Step 2: Involve the SME as a Collaborator

Step 3: Understand and respect the SME

Without knowing how to leverage the value of your SME you will find little value with them. Leverage their strengths to make your eLearning unique and “spot on” when it comes to the subject matter.


3. Know that the SME Relationship is Key

Remember, the Subject Matter Experts play key roles in developing online course content and therefore it’s important to develop a respectful working relationship with them. Your relationship with your SME ultimately determines a successful project. By following some of the tips above you will be able to build a good relationship with your SMEs and will help make the process easier. Hope you enjoy these tips and best of luck working with your SMEs!

P.S. Need more time working with a SME? See how using eLearning Templates can make up for lost time in the development process.


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