At a recent workshop, we had participants share their tips on working with subject matter experts. As expected they shared some really good tips that are practical and will help move your training courses forward.
Since there was a ton of tips I broke them into a series of posts. Today we’ll look at how to manage the relationship with your subject matter experts.
Establish Expectations with Your Subject Matter Experts
- If you can, research your subject matter expert just like you would any other client.
- Define clearly the communication plan with your subject matter experts. Follow the 5Ws: who, what, where, when and wherefore.
- Make sure the development process is clearly defined and understood and then define the role of your subject matter expert and how much you expect.
- Explain the importance of the project you are working on because a lot of times they think whatever you’re working on isn’t necessary.
- Give clear instructions to subject matter experts as to how you want their information and content submitted to you. This includes any templates, instructions for recording and submitting audio. This helps avoid issues later, especially where there is a minimum of communication and interaction with the subject matter expert due to time and cost constraints.
- Don’t be concerned if initial meeting is the dreaded information dump. You can always refine from this big list. Sometimes it’s good to just get them to dump everything so you know what they’re thinking.
Simple Project Management Tips When Working with Subject Matter Experts
- Set up a kickoff meeting in which you: declare timelines, set expectations, define the specific roles during which phases and expected outcomes and deliverables.
- Come up with a service level agreement. And then make sure you get the requirements signed off after each phase to avoid last minute surprises. This also helps keep the project in scope.
- Get buy-in as soon as possible during analysis and information gathering.
- Schedule and hold regular progress check-in meetings.
- Record and document your meetings and then send out so that everyone can see what was discussed and expectations moving forward.
- Meetings should have agendas with action items. No action items, then no meeting.
- Don’t miss your own deadlines!!!
- Document what you have agreed on and refer to that for your milestones and check-ins.
- Ensure you and your subject matter expert track changes, and ask them to be as specific as possible with their comments and feedback. e.g. writing “Clarification is needed here” isn’t good enough!
Be sure to check out this free e-book, Essential Guide to Working with Subject Matter Experts. You can find it in the E-Learning Heroes community.
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