Finding Subject Matter Experts

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Your subject matter experts (SMEs) are invaluable in helping you design a well thought out and targeted learning solution. So how do you identify who your subject matter experts are?

Here are some things to consider when finding your Subject Matter Experts.

How many SMEs do I need?

The amount of Subject Matter Experts you need in a project is dependent on the range of behaviour change required and how many audiences this relates to. A small behaviour change for just one audience may only require one SME. However a large behaviour change project going across several business units will require several SMEs.

What sort of Subject Matter Experts do you need?

Does the project or learning solution you’re working on cross several areas? A learning solution that covers multiple areas will get better results by utilising a Subject Matter Expert from each area. For example, if a learning solution involves implementing a new software system, a change in customer service approach, and a shift in leadership focus – find a SME for each of these areas. This way you will have access to expert advice for each area.

Do you have the target audience represented?

Always include a high performer from the target audience as a Subject Matter Expert. Even if all they only do is a reality check of your learning resources at review time. A SME from your target audience can also be useful for sourcing realistic scenarios to incorporate into your elearning activities.

Do you have a SME representing each of your target audiences?

If your learning solution is designed for several audiences, have a Subject Matter Expert representative from each group. This will help you build your design strategy to incorporate all of the audiences needs. From discussion with these SMEs you will be able to identify which parts of the learning solution can be generalised to everyone, and which parts of the learning solution will need to be specialised to particular audiences.

Are they willing to help and do they have time to help?

Once you have found your Subject Matter Experts you need to find out if they are first willing to help, and secondly if they have time to help. If the answer is no to either of these questions, you will need to source another SME who is more accessible.

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