Skip to Content Skip to Main Navigation

Posts with the Tag: SMEs

How Instructional Designers Can Tap Into SMEs

8th January 2015 Posted in Blog, Training & Development 0 Comments


For training courses to be effective on any project, Instructional Designers and Trainers should have a strong knowledge and depth of skills in the topic to make sure that the content is accurate. That’s where SMEs, or Subject Matter Experts, come in. SMEs are the experts with in-depth knowledge of what’s needed in a course or training program.

In his article, Curriculum Design with Subject Matter Experts,  Lester L. Stephenson explains the importance and advantages of involving SMEs from the very beginning of the project. He also provides some questions that can be used as a guide for Instructional Designers to use while interviewing SMEs, along with some tips on how to create a detailed outline of the course content after the information gathering has been completed.

Read Curriculum Design with Subject Matter Experts and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. As a Trainer or Instructional Designer, how do you get the most from your interactions with SMEs?

Subject Matter Experts and Technical Documentation

10th February 2012 Posted in Blog, Documentation, Technical Writers 0 Comments

Image for Subject Matter Experts and Technical Documentation

While you might already be an expert in technical writing, there is always someone else who is better informed (assuming you’re not the leading expert, of course) on the inner workings of what you’re documenting.  These people are called subject matter experts (SME) and they’re an invaluable resource when you’re looking to create the most accurate documentation possible.

Where to Find Subject Matter Experts


As a Technical Writer, Do You Need to be an Expert?

16th January 2012 Posted in Blog, Medical Writers, Technical Writers 4 Comments

Image for As a Technical Writer Do You Need to be an Expert

Being an expert is a good thing.  Being a technical writer is a good thing.  But do the two have to go hand in hand?

While it’s certainly a good idea for medical writers to be experts in their field, especially when it comes to preparing documents for medical professional use, what about the everyday technical writer?  And if you’re trying to hire a technical writer, do you need someone who’s an expert or do you just need a high quality writer? (more…)

Confessions of a Quality Queen: Getting Good Reviews in Bad Times with Remote Teams

22nd November 2011 Posted in Blog, Documentation, Industry Articles 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This was the feature article in this month’s TechCom Manager newsletter, reprinted here with permission. Click the previous link to subscribe to the newsletter.

Luanne Oleas, Author of Confessions of a Quality Queen- Getting Good Reviews in Bad Times with Remote Teams

Luanne Oleas

The projects, they are increasing. The number of writers is decreasing. Jobs are floating across oceans. Agile, thy name is fickle. What’s a good writer going to do? You have to change. Adapt. Be ready for anything, because chances are, that’s exactly what’s coming your way.

One of the hardest principles slipping from our grasp in these tense times is the quality factor. It used to be one area where the technical writer could be the master of his or her fate. Developers revised your content, project managers overruled your phraseology, but you, as an experienced writer, could still make the final product shine. Now? Not so much.

Part of the problem could be that your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are no longer sharing your water cooler. In fact, in this year’s budget, they nixed the water cooler, too. Your reviewers could be thousands of miles away, which can make motivating them difficult. OK, impossible. Well, almost.


When is a Technical Writer’s Job Done?

24th November 2010 Posted in Blog, Documentation, Technical Writers 1 Comment

Once a technical writer has turned in their work, they’ve checked off all of their tasks, they should be done with the project, right?

Not quite. In the process of writing for a company, the next step after finishing up a handbook, manual or online help is to test out the steps that have been documented. If the writing isn’t correct, then the writing isn’t going to be effective.

In many cases, validation of documentation is done by a QA department, in other cases it’s not, or at least the review process involves others in the organization.


Working With Subject Matter Experts

Editor’s Note: This was the feature article in this month’s TechCom Manager newsletter, reprinted here with permission. Click the previous link to subscribe to the newsletter.

by David Tinsley

One of the many challenges that a technical writer faces early on is learning to work with subject matter experts (SMEs). What or who is an SME? He/she may be a software developer who is creating code for an API, a mechanical engineer who is designing a front panel interface, or a regulatory professional who is testing the system against specific standards. In essence, anyone providing you with expert knowledge about the subject you are documenting can be an SME.

As technical writers, we obtain a lot of our source material from SMEs and we need to develop the skills required to work with a wide range of people. For those of us who may be introverted by nature, overcoming our natural reticence can be difficult, but it is something we should be continually trying to improve.

So what are some of the challenges that you may encounter in your day-to-day dealings with SMEs and how can you overcome them? The following list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it describes some of the common challenges you may face with suggestions on how you might overcome them.