SMEs Are People Too

SMEs are busy people! They may be the top expert in their field or the only person at the company performing their core role.

Steps you can take to support them during training development:

1. Pulse check! This will help you find out what concerns or barriers you are facing (real or perceived.) If you are aware of how your SME is feeling and what concerns they have, you are better prepared to make the experience as painless as possible for both of you.

2. Respect their time/schedule! Find out what they have going on and what days/weeks work best. Request this information early so you can use it to make the best possible project plan.

3. Be flexible! Spoiler Alert: This applies to pretty much every aspect of instructional design! You can be flexible with technology by allowing your SMEs to use a program they are comfortable with, instead of trying to force them to use something that you think may be better or faster. As a side note, some SMEs still prefer to provide content in the form of handwritten notes. This can be extremely inefficient. If you run into this issue, try a recorded working session. See step 4 for details.

4. Offer to help! A great way to support someone struggling to get the content out of their head and on paper is to record a working session with them. You can get the material out of their head and get your questions answered at the same time. You'll need to type up the content later for them to edit and approve, but it can be a very efficient process for SMEs who struggle with writer's block or just making time to write.

5. Be nice! Spoiler Alert #2: This applies to pretty much every aspect of instructional design consulting! Consulting at its core is customer service. So get out the honey, and toss the vinegar.

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