Resources for effective collaboration with Subject Matter Experts and Stakeholder Management

In learning projects, Subject Matter Experts and Stakeholders typically encompass a broad range of individuals with a vested interest in the project’s success. Including but not limited:

  • Stakeholders:

    • Organizational Leaders: Top executives and decision-makers whose strategic objectives the learning project should support.
    • Managers: Individuals who oversee teams that will directly benefit from the training, concerned with how it will impact performance and productivity.
    • Future Learners: The direct recipients of the learning content, whose needs and preferences should guide the design and development of the project.
    • HR and L&D Professionals: Specialists in developing talent within the organization, focused on aligning learning initiatives with broader skill development goals.
    • IT and Technical Support: Teams that provide the necessary technological infrastructure and support for deploying digital learning solutions.
    • External Partners: In some cases, outside organizations or consultants who have a stake in the learning project’s success, offering unique perspectives or resources.
  • Subject Matter Experts (SMEs):

    • Industry Veterans: Individuals with years of experience in a particular field, offering in-depth knowledge and real-world insights.
    • Technical Specialists: Experts in specific technical domains or tools, crucial for training on specialized software or methodologies.
    • Suppliers or Product Developers: When training is focused on specific products, these SMEs offer deep insights into the product’s features, benefits, and use cases.
    • Academic Researchers: Scholars or educators who contribute cutting-edge theories, research findings, or educational methodologies.
    • Compliance and Regulatory Advisors: Experts who ensure that learning content meets legal and regulatory standards, particularly important in highly regulated industries.
    • Practitioners: Professionals actively working in the field, providing current practices, trends, and real-life challenges and solutions.
    • Product Developers: In product-specific training, these SMEs provide deep insights into the features, benefits, and use cases of products.


Collaborating effectively with these individuals is essential at various key stages of a learning project, from initial analysis and design through development, implementation, and evaluation.


The basics of effective stakeholder collaboration

Collaborating effectively with these individuals is essential at various key stages of a learning project, from initial analysis and design through development, implementation, and evaluation.

This selection of free courses aims to help at improving collaboration with Subject Matter Experts, offering insights on better communication practices, effective relationship-building, and strategies for leveraging their expertise efficiently. Ideal for those looking to sharpening the skills needed for more productive and rewarding collaborations.


  • How to Work with a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for Your Training Program

    • By ELM L&D Hub

    • This guide outlines the importance and best practices for collaborating with SMEs to enhance eLearning and training initiatives.
    • Key points include:
      • Understanding SMEs: Introduction to the expertise SMEs bring across various domains.
      • SME Skills: Essential attributes like effective communication, teamwork, and time management.
      • SMEs in eLearning: Their role in ensuring course accuracy and relevance.
      • Collaboration Strategies: Tips on preparing for discussions, setting clear expectations, and respecting their time.
      • Effective Communication: Importance of clear, respectful communication and gratitude towards SMEs.
      • Building a SME Network: Advantages of having a network of experts for technical or complex projects.


  • Project Communication Strategies – Part 01

    • By Udemy

    • Learn how to drive results and achieve benefits through clear, open, and honest communication. Master the art of detecting and resolving conflicts of interest among stakeholder groups.
    • Key insights include:
      • Emotional Intelligence: How it impacts effective communication with stakeholders.
      • Assertiveness & Negotiation: Skills for being assertive and negotiation tips.
      • Communication Barriers & Planning: Identifying barriers and planning project communication.
      • Conflict Management: Strategies for managing conflicts.
      • Stakeholder Communication: Strategies and tips for setting expectations and ensuring project success.


  • Project Communication Strategies – Part 02

    • By Udemy

    • Advance your stakeholder communication skills with refined strategies and techniques.
    • Key insights include:
      • Emotional Intelligence: Deepening insights.
      • Barriers: Overcoming obstacles.
      • Assertiveness: Advanced techniques.
      • Negotiation: Mastery skills.
      • Conflict: Resolution methods.
      • Planning: Strategic approaches.
      • Expectations: Setting and managing.


  • Stakeholder Engagement Strategies – Part 01

    • By Udemy

    • Master stakeholder engagement to ensure better project outcomes by understanding, influencing, and managing stakeholders’ expectations and interests.
    • Key insights include:
      • Identification: Discovering stakeholders.
      • Methods: Circle, Mind Mapping, Wheel.
      • Register: Maintaining a stakeholder register.
      • Mapping: Crafting a stakeholder map.
      • Engagement Plan: Developing engagement strategies.
      • Communication Strategy: Establishing communication approaches.
      • Difficult Stakeholders: Managing challenges.


  • Stakeholder Engagement Strategies – Part 02

    • By Udemy

    • Deepen your skills in stakeholder management with advanced techniques for engagement, building trust, and handling conflicts.
    • Key insights include:
      • Stakeholder Identification: Using diverse methods.
      • Engagement Approaches: Best practices for involvement.
      • Active Listening: Focusing on stakeholders’ feedback.
      • Organizational Value: Collaborating for mutual benefits.
      • Conflict Handling: Strategies for resolution.


  • Using Frameworks to Empower SMEs

    • By EduFlow Academy

    • Discover how the creation of learning frameworks allows your team to scale the development of learning experiences while leveraging expert knowledge.
    • Key insights include:
      • Framework Efficiency: The eight frameworks to make content creation more efficient.
      • Communication with SMEs: Communicating the possible options to SMEs for better alignment with scenarios.
      • Empowerment and Capability: Cultivating a sense of empowerment among experts.

  • Working with SMEs and Clients: A Comprehensive Guide to Effective Collaboration for L&D Teams

    • By zipBoard

    • This guide offers comprehensive strategies for Learning and Development (L&D) teams on collaborating effectively with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and clients. It covers overcoming common challenges, best practices for collaboration, and leveraging technology for enhanced collaboration.
    • Key points include:
      • Understanding Challenges: Discusses knowledge gaps, conflicting opinions, and collaboration barriers.
      • Overcoming Challenges: Offers solutions for dealing with conflicts, delays, and scope creep.
      • Best Practices for Collaboration: Highlights building a collaborative framework, effective communication, and the use of project management tools.
      • Collaboration Process Guide: Details steps from preparation, through content development, to feedback and continuous improvement.
      • Recognition and Appreciation: Stresses the importance of acknowledging the contributions of SMEs and clients.
      • Tools for Effective Collaboration: Recommends tools for project management, communication, document sharing, and feedback.


Frameworks and models for SME and Stakeholder collaboration and engagement

Various frameworks and models offer a roadmap from the inception of a project to its evaluation, each tailored to specific stages of development. These models and frameworks can be used as a map to enhance collaboration with Subject Matter Experts and stakeholders, ensuring projects meet their goals efficiently.

  • Top models and frameworks to guide your Subject Matter Experts and Stakeholders:

    • Action Mapping, introduced by Cathy Moore, is ideal during the discovery phase and kick-off meetings. It’s a method designed to ascertain whether training is the solution to a problem by focusing on actions rather than knowledge, helping teams align on objectives and actionable behaviors. This framework sets the stage for a project by ensuring that every aspect of the learning experience is directly tied to achieving business outcomes.
    • Bloom’s Taxonomy comes into play when discussing and defining learning objectives. It categorizes cognitive skills and learning behaviors, making it easier to articulate the depth and complexity of the learning outcomes you’re aiming for. This taxonomy guides the design phase by helping SMEs and instructional designers craft objectives that target specific learner abilities, from simple recall of facts (knowledge) to complex analysis and creation (synthesis).
    • AGILE Learning Design: This approach adapts principles from agile software development to instructional design, promoting flexibility, adaptability, and continuous improvement. It encourages regular stakeholder and SME engagement through sprints and reviews, making it easier to align on project goals and make iterative changes.
    • Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation is critical for the project’s evaluation phase. It measures training effectiveness across reaction, learning, behavior, and results, providing a comprehensive view of the impact of educational initiatives. This model ensures that the training not only meets learners’ immediate needs but also contributes to long-term goals and business outcomes.


Tools for streamlined collaboration with stakeholders and SMEs

Whether it’s for real-time collaboration on content, organizing and visualizing ideas, or collecting and incorporating feedback, the right set of tools can make all the difference. In this context, we recommend a collection of digital tools designed to facilitate seamless interaction, enhance creativity, and ensure alignment with project goals.

These tools have been chosen for their ability to facilitate key aspects of L&D projects, including collaborative whiteboarding, moodboarding for visual planning, and platforms for collecting structured feedback. If you are looking for even more tools to use with your varied stakeholders including Project Owners, Subject Matter Experts and learners, check also this massive selections of varied, free L&D tools.

  • Tools for L&D + SME and stakeholder collaboration

    • Articulate Review 360 – Streamlines eLearning content review by allowing SMEs to give slide-by-slide feedback, facilitating rapid iterations and improvements based on stakeholder insights.
    • Microsoft Loop – A collaborative workspace for real-time document co-creation and editing, enabling SMEs and instructional designers to dynamically build learning content together.
    • Miro – An online whiteboard ideal for brainstorming, creating mood boards, and mapping out course structures with real-time collaboration, making it a go-to for remote and distributed teams.
    • MURAL – Similar to Miro, it’s a digital workspace for visual collaboration that enables teams to create diagrams, brainstorm ideas, and plan projects in a visually engaging manner.
    • Trello – Utilize for organizing and prioritizing content development tasks and visual planning. Its board and card system can represent different stages of content creation, from ideation to final review.
    • Figma – A design tool that excels in collaborative UI, UX, and instructional design. It’s useful for creating interactive designs for eLearning courses where multiple stakeholders can contribute and comment in real time.
    • Loom – Offers a quick way to create and share video feedback on projects. It’s particularly useful for detailed commentary on visual and interactive elements of eLearning courses.
    • Notion – A versatile workspace that can be used for project management, documentation, and as a collaborative knowledge base, helping teams to keep track of content development progress and resources.
    • Slack – Beyond messaging, Slack’s integration capabilities make it a central hub for notifications and updates from other tools on this list, ensuring seamless communication across the project team.
    • Microsoft Teams – Provides a comprehensive communication platform that integrates well with other Microsoft 365 tools, making it useful for teams deeply embedded in the Microsoft ecosystem for file sharing and real-time editing.
    • InVision – A digital product design platform that’s great for prototyping eLearning interfaces and interactive content, allowing for real-time feedback and collaboration from SMEs and designers.
Tags: Collaboration, Continuous Improvement, Courses, Digital Learning Experience Designer, Free Courses, Fundamentals, Instructional Design, Learning and Development, LXD Toolkit, Professional development, SMEs, Stakeholder management, Subject Matter Experts
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