A Large-Scale Model for Working with Subject Matter Experts

A Large-Scale Model for Working with Subject Matter Experts

Judith A. Russo-Converso (CSC, USA) and Ronald D. Offutt (Northrup-Grumman Information Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-503-2.ch208
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Abstract

The evolution of complex and distributed commerce requires the implementation of training design and development models that capture and mold the expertise of subject matter experts (SMEs). A SME is defined as “that individual who exhibits the highest level of expertise in performing a specialized job, task, or skill within the organization”. SMEs possess in-depth knowledge of the subject you are attempting to document (http://www.isixsigma.com/dictionary/ Subject_Matter_Expert_-_SME-396.htm). This chapter describes a unique issue, and potential risk, along with a solution to work with a large number of geographically dispersed SMEs (separated from one another due to their respective locations), whose efforts are standardized and synchronized. This solution is based on a collaboration model implemented and led by an integration team whose role and responsibility is to allow the SMEs to achieve consensus, efficiency, and standard of quality in both products and processes.
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Introduction

The evolution of complex and distributed commerce requires the implementation of training design and development models that capture and mold the expertise of subject matter experts (SMEs). A SME is defined as “that individual who exhibits the highest level of expertise in performing a specialized job, task, or skill within the organization”. SMEs possess in-depth knowledge of the subject you are attempting to document (http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/functions/constructive.asp). This initiative will be used throughout the chapter as our illustrative example as we describe the rising challenges and opportunities.

Therefore, this chapter will provide a detailed examination of the existing education and training development fundamentals that provided the framework to meet the requirements of this training design and development challenge. The first step in the process was to identify potential problems, issues, and/or potential risks of this training initiative. Two obvious issues were identified: 1) working with three different companies, each with their own internal structure and philosophy on training and development thus, resulting in a need for standardization; and 2) having a large number of individuals geographically dispersed, responsible for contributing to or creating the initiative’s policies, processes, and products resulting in a need to find a means to work collaboratively from a distance.

Adding to the complexity of the initiative was acknowledging the nature of the training design and development team; the fact that it consists of forty (40) SMEs, analysts in the initiative, representing three leading defense contractor companies, known as the One Team Partners (OTP). To resolve the issue of standardization, a three-member integration team (IT) was assigned to facilitate the design and implementation of policies, procedures, and processes to accomplish the expected project goals and objectives of their primary customers by synchronizing, integrating and standardizing the SMEs’ work.

The end-product (instructional/training product) was designed to support the instructional and training efforts for soldiers deployed, awaiting deployment, or conducting combat operations. The authors of this chapter are two members of the three-member IT, serving as the lead instructional designer and lead content SME. During the first three years of an eight-year initiative, this joint effort, using the collaboration model, has completed or is nearly completed with the initial planning and analysis phases (i.e., mission, job, and task analyses) in preparation for the next phase, the design and development of training support packages.

Typically when managing an educational or training initiative, instructional designers (IDers) depend on the SME for their expertise in curriculum content. The IDers’ involvement is critical during the analysis and design phases of a systematic instructional design approach.

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