The U.S. Office of Personnel Management defines an SME as “a person with bona fide expert knowledge about what it takes to do a particular job”. This “bona fide knowledge” includes any special skills needed. Just so we’re on the same page, “bona fide” means “genuine, real”. In other words, there is some sort of factual proof that the person is fit for an SME role, not just their say-so. Another way to put it is that the SME is a “known and credible master of their field”.
Factual proof and accreditation include such items as patents awarded, prestigious awards from respected organizations, and research publications. In some cases, it also includes the person’s word-of-mouth reputation.
What is a Subject Matter Expert?
A Subject Matter Expert (or SME) is, to put it simply, a highly skilled specialist in a particular, narrow field of expertise, who works as a consultant for the course or the training. An SME is a person laying foundations for any of the content appearing at training, courses, webinars, consultations, or presentations. Hiring a good SME is therefore vital for the legitimacy, accuracy and validity of the courses offered by the company. What makes a good SME, what exactly is their role in creating company training content and how to become a subject matter expert – these are the questions we are going to answer in this article.
Subject Matter Expert Overall
An SME should be proficient in three domains: structure, process, and outcome.
- Structure refers to what they know about their field.
- Process is what needs to be done to get the job done.
- Outcome describes the result (structure + process).
Let’s look at an example…
A process expert can do the work excellently. However, lacking structure, they do not know the “why” behind the process steps. Thus, it will be unlikely that they will be able to offer suggestions to improve the process.
The importance of SMEs roles in education and training
The SME role aims to bring accuracy, trustworthiness, and authority to the creative table. This ensures that your education/training is both reliable and the best it can be at that moment.
We can think of the SME role as that of a master craftsperson such as a master mechanic or cosmetician. These people have a particular depth of knowledge from their own “book learning” and “in the field experience”. This combination gives them unique insight into their field. As a result, they can guide and oversee the creation or revision of content or process in a superior way.
To me, an organization could be an SME
It could be that one or several of your members are individual SMEs.
However, it could also be that when combined, the knowledge/skill base of several organizational members is sufficient to qualify for an SME role.
Is your organization ready to step up and contribute? Here’s why I ask…
EdApp is on a mission
Partnering with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), EdApp is working to “empower and educate millions of learners around the world, particularly those furthest behind with limited access and opportunities for education”. Their solution is a free, comprehensive library of world-class, fully editable microlearning courses for individuals and small businesses looking to upskill themselves or further their education for continuous learning.
How can you contribute as a Subject Matter Expert?
We’d be honored if you would add a course to our library.
Course content: Here’s where you shine. Your SME role means that you choose the topic you are “bona fide” in. In other words, the topic in which you have expert knowledge/skills.
Course length: Any number of lessons works for us. If you scroll through our library, you’ll see that most courses are 3-5 lessons long. However, there are those of 1 lesson only and others which are quite long, like 14 lessons.
Course preparation: You would be using a great learning management system (LMS)—EdApp. You can start from scratch using our template library for “fill in and save” content creation in minutes. You can also choose an existing course that is similar to your own, customize it for your organization, add/change/delete content as needed, and save the results.
What’s in it for you?
Remember we spoke above about proof that you are an SME? Having a course in the Global EdApp Library would certainly count as a fine example.
In addition, it will look good on your Giving Back website page (or whatever your title is). You know, the one on which you show how your organization is contributing to making this world a better place for us all.
How long will it take?
It depends on the number of lessons you choose to create and the number of slides in each lesson. However, complete lessons can be created in minutes (to give you an idea) with EdApp’s intuitive authoring tools.
My best suggestion is to begin with content that you have already prepared for educational/training purposes. This content might be in the form of a PDF or worksheets. It could also be in physical book form or online (such as Moodle).
Once you have your content, simply copy/paste it into the relevant template(s) from our Template Library.
Apply your branding globally (to all the slides in a lesson) and save. Your lesson is finished!
Read to solidify your organization’s SME status? Sign up for free now!