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How to get most value from your Subject Matter Experts

Simply put, a subject matter expert (SME) is the go-to expert in your organisation about a particular topic. Your SME may be an individual contributor, manager or executive and they are in high demand. Sales, product development, operations and L&D continuously ask SMEs to contribute and advise.

Blog Posts
How to get most value from your Subject Matter Experts
May 14, 2024
:
3
Minutes
How to get most value from your Subject Matter Experts

Simply put, a subject matter expert (SME) is the go-to expert in your organisation about a particular topic. Your SME may be an individual contributor, manager or executive and they are in high demand. Sales, product development, operations and L&D continuously ask SMEs to contribute and advise.

Their deep knowledge and hands-on experience make them ideal to contribute to helping other people learn new skills and they are often asked to contribute to creating learning programmes.

However, due to their limited time and busy schedules, it’s crucial to collaborate effectively to maximise their contributions and avoid frustrating them.

Discover five common mistakes when you collaborate with an SME and how to fix them. This will allow your organisation to get the best possible value from them and scale their expertise.

Mistake #1: You overload SMEs with design responsibilities

SME’s typically hold full-time roles outside of their SME responsibilities and may find it a challenge to allocate time for extensive design tasks.

To alleviate their burden:

  • Develop a clear work plan with defined roles, expectations and tasks, so they understand what is needed from them.
  • Ideally provide SMEs with drafts or templates to work with, instead of expecting them to create content from scratch.

Mistake #2: You’re not well prepared for meetings

Your time with your SME is gold! So not preparing wastes your time together.

  • Suggest a project plan based on project goals and timelines.
  • Gather as much information as you can prior to the meeting, so you don’t need to ask unnecessary questions.
  • Find and review all briefings, existing resources and course materials you already have about the subject, and be ready to share it.
  • Make a list with all your questions, and send it to the SME beforehand.

Mistake #3: Poor Communication

Respect the fact that the SME has a full time job as well as their SME tasks, and adapt your communication accordingly.

  • Identify the SME’s preferred method and frequency of communication early in the project. (in-person meetings, phone calls, or emails?)
  • Save your non-urgent questions or requests for those check-in meetings, and avoid overwhelm with daily requests.
  • Batch necessary questions or updates into a single email or phone call. Don’t send multiple emails or call every time you have a question.
  • Schedule regular meetings well in advance so they know what to expect.

Mistake #4. You underutilise the expertise of your SME

While SMEs are not always primary content creators, their insights are invaluable in shaping relevant and impactful content.

  • Involve SMEs early in the process of learning journeys to align the material with their expertise and the organisational goals. This also helps you work in a more synergised manner.
  • Encourage regular feedback from both sides throughout the learning journey design and development phases to refine and enhance the programme.

Leverage learning technology to scale your SME’s expertise

The Stellar Labs platform helps SMEs and L&D collaborate to create specialist, engaging, learner-centric programmes, guided by neuroscience and optimised by AI.

The platform helps learner experiment and apply skills so that learning translates into improved workplace performance. With AI-enhanced design features, you can react to rapidly changing business needs and launch new learning journeys in days, not months.

This improves the efficiency of L&D initiatives and enables SMEs to focus on providing expert insights rather than lose time with design details.

For more information on how Stellar Labs can help your organisation scale the expertise of SMEs effectively, book your demo today.

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