Most resources about working with subject matter experts aren’t related to software development.
They are mostly related to instructional design.
Was I using the wrong term to refer to the experts in your organization? That wasn’t it. Perhaps there aren’t many articles about that topic because it’s not too high on people’s radar.
However, I’ve found that the better the interactions are with subject matter experts, the better your product turns out. I decided that since there wasn’t much about working with SME’s from a software perspective, I’d see what the instructional design folks had to say.
After all, whether you’re putting together training, or building a product for internal use, you need to instruct people on a new business process and how to use the product. The lessons from instructional design could apply to software development as well.
With that in mind, here are some resources about working with SMEs from the instructional design communities. I picked those resources that seemed particularly relevant to working on internal products.
A Simple Way to Work with Subject Matter Experts
Subject matter experts often play a key role in the development of e-learning courses and internal products. Tom Kuhlmann discusses working with SMEs quite often so he came up with a handy reminder of three key things to remember when working with subject matter experts: relationship, role, and resources.
Working With Subject Matter Experts: The Ultimate Guide
Relationships are a key to success and, during your eLearning course development one of the most challenging relationships you will ever have will be with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Christopher Pappas shares some information about how to work closely with Subject Matter Experts and build a respectful working relationship with them.
6 Tips for Working with your Subject Matter Expert
Just like developing training materials, finding the right subject matter expert (SME) for your internal product can mean the difference elegant simplicity or complexity in motion. As a product person your role is to deliver a solution that satisfies your customers needs. Your SME’s role is to have complete knowledge of the topic. Their knowledge helps the organization perform at its best.
So how do you get the right amount of information from your SME? Shannon Tipton provided 6 Tips to help you build your relationship with your SME.
The Seven Archetypes of Subject Matter Experts
Some SMEs are fantastic, devoting the time and attention your project deserves without argument or complaint. Some SMEs are human and sometimes need a bit of help or encouragement to perform at their best due to other demands in their work and personal lives.
Andrea May found that SMEs can be grouped into seven categories, or archetypes. Each type can be recognized by certain characteristics, though a few overlapping traits are shared between some. Keep in mind, though, that SMEs can shift, without warning, from one type to another, sometimes in the span of a single meeting!
5 Mistakes to avoid when working with subject matter experts
Subject matter experts can sometimes be demanding. They can even (unintentionally) be barriers to success if they are uninterested in the development process or instructional design standards.
The truth is, you and your subject matter experts need each other! They possess information you need to solve their problem—it’s symbiosis! The bottom line is, when it comes to developing an internal product or an eLearning course, it’s your job to maintain a positive relationship with your subject matter experts.
To help you maintain that positive relationship with your SMEs, Tim Slade suggested five mistakes to avoid when working with subject matter experts.