Not-So-Obvious Benefits That In-House Subject Matter Experts Bring To The Table

SMEs Not-So-Obvious Benefits They Can Bring
Zhanna Hapanovich/
Summary: Are you ready to make the most out of your collaboration with subject matter experts?

Training With A Wider Impact

There are some major benefits of working closely with internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) that are often overlooked. These benefits can have a positive impact on the organization and make a strong business case for your learning solution if you utilize the collaboration with your experts effectively.

Knowledge Management

Access to knowledge has been one of the key issues of the transition to remote work and will remain crucial during the post-pandemic recovery of business, the main reason being that a lot of organizations are now offering different working-mode options on a permanent basis. Therefore, companies need to have a flexible and modern knowledge management strategy that takes into consideration the new reality of operation.

A well-thought-out collaboration with internal subject matter experts can be used to help tackle knowledge sharing within the company, especially in terms of tacit (as in intuition) and implicit (as in experience) knowledge that is more difficult to document and share than explicit knowledge. Having in-house professionals to serve as SMEs explicitly establishes their expertise inside the company, and not only can it provide transfer of knowledge within the training, but it may also potentially foster knowledge sharing outside formal training if managed properly. Employees who participate in the training will know who has the know-how on a particular topic and can later consult with these experts when they have a related question.

How to make it work?

  • Introduce the expert. Even if it’s an eLearning course, you can still add videos with the expert to the course or, if shooting videos is not an option, add a section with a photo and an intro of the person so that the participants can put a face to the name and associate the course with this expert.
  • Encourage participants to reach out to the expert even after the course has finished. This can be a separate section in the final part of the eLearning module or it can be done in the practical session (if there is one) by the expert themselves. Remember that it’s important to introduce this feature when your expert is completely on board with it. Therefore, you will need to discuss this with the SME first, but generally, most senior employees are happy to pass down their knowledge if they see what benefits it brings in the long run.

Brand Management

Yet, another benefit of utilizing a company employee’s expertise explicitly, as discussed in the tips above, is the fact that it can help the organization with internal branding. An internal expert as an instructor can help foster the idea that knowledgeable professionals with a great level of expertise work at the company, which can already have a positive impact on the company’s brand. But when these experts openly demonstrate that they are ready to share their knowledge with others outside training, it is even more beneficial for the organization’s employer brand. This can also contribute to the idea of togetherness in a healthy working environment, where knowledge is used to support each other and achieve goals as a team, rather than kept for individual career gain. All of this may as well be used as an effective tool to promote the company brand among the staff. If this also aligns with your corporate philosophy and culture, then think no more; this is too great a tool to neglect.

SME Benefits: Better Engagement From The Expert And The Learners

Knowing that their name will be strongly associated with the course encourages people to go above and beyond in terms of their effort and commitment. This is likely to result in content for your course that is better suited to the company's needs and issues. Additionally, for some SMEs, it can have a positive effect on their overall satisfaction with the process, as they have a more active role in it and the outcomes may potentially have a far-reaching effect.

For the learners, it is also highly beneficial to have training where there is direct human contact with the instructor, especially one who works together with them. This personal touch helps to make learning feel less generic and more relevant.

Talk to the SME and work out what works best for your learning context. There are many options that you can explore to see how to establish this connection between your expert and the learners.

  • Add a short video with the SME sharing their experience on a particular issue.
  • Encourage your SME to include a story from their experience in your course.
  • Consider adding virtual sessions led by the expert, such as Q&As or discussions, as they can reinforce the training and further promote collaboration.
  • Think about how you can utilize discussion boards where the expert comments on what the participants share.

These days people may sometimes feel disconnected and isolated, which could negatively impact them. You can leverage learning to mitigate these issues and feed a few birds with your scone of training.