As Training Managers, the rollout of an eLearning program can be a substantial undertaking for you, as it involves complex project management from beginning to end.
As an eLearning Solution Specialist, I have been working with many Training Mangers and I appreciate the kind of project management we do at our company. It includes conducting training need analysis, collecting content, dealing with Subject matter experts (SMEs) and getting the course done for the stake holders and learners.
Among all these, I feel dealing with the SMEs to get the content and getting it validated is a tough challenge since these experts do not have time and are not fully committed to your project.
I have seen some training mangers struggling to get the projects reviewed and closed. Some projects are put on hold because of their SMEs busy schedules. At the same time, there are some others who have gained mastery on practices of how to deal with the SMEs to get the things done.
Here are some lessons I have learnt from those successful Project Managers
1. Understand the SME and his/her time constraints
SMEs are always on a high demand because they play some critical roles in their organizations. They usually have a very little time to spend on the eLearning courses. So we need to understand their time constraints and ask how much time they can spend on the training project and make a customized plan.
We should limit our plan to an amount of time that works for them. Keep our roles very clear and let the SME know his role and responsibilities. We should also try and understand SMEs working style and preferred ways for communication (email, in person meetings, over phone etc.).
2. Share the purpose and learning objectives of the course
Let the SME know the purpose of the eLearning course. Share the learning objectives and the expected outcome.
This will help the SME understand the project goals and drill down only the essential information to suit the need. This will also help them in coming up with ideas on how to create the best eLearning environment using what they know.
3. Provide an overview of eLearning
Generally we tend to assume that an SME will be aware of eLearning courses and its development process, which may not always be true. It is a good idea to give an overview of eLearning, share the details of eLearning vendor, samples, course design and development process and what is that the vendor expects from the SME.
Instead of giving them a boring lecture on eLearning, present some good samples of how you want your course to be or, what you think will work for this course. This will shape their understanding and bridge the gap between the SME and the vendor.
4. Use a training outline to get the information
Subject matter experts, because of their enormous amount of knowledge, focus more on the subject rather than the training need and target learners. They dump lot of information even for a small 30 minutes course. So we need to change or adjust their focus onto “need to know” information.
It will be helpful, if we can approach them with a basic training outline with important points set on training needs decided by the stake holders. This is the best way to balance the SMEs knowledge with the training need.
5. Keep communication clear
Communication is the key to any project success. Whatever we write/say should convey what we actually want to communicate, otherwise it might complicate matters. Establish the expectations clearly; make sure what you want from them, why and by when.
The way we communicate should show our commitment and our respect for them. Better relationships with them can give us a better result.
These ‘Dos’ may not be new to you, but a quick refresher doesn’t hurt you! What are your tips to get the most out of subject matter experts?