How to Perform a Training Needs Analysis
We'll show you how to perform a training needs analysis, and give insights into the benefits of the assessment before you start developing your new eLearning!
Managing any eLearning project brings its own challenges. Add to that the need to influence key Subject Matter Experts (also known as SMEs) and a project can be put at risk. Everyone is busy and you need their expertise (and time) to move your agenda forward. So, how do you effectively work with SMEs so that deadlines are met and everyone comes away from the project feeling good about the overall experience? Here are five tips to help you optimize your process while working with SMEs.
Request a list of the Subject Matter Experts from your main point of contact which will be needed to complete the project. Capture important information such as:
Understanding who needs to be involved will allow you to communicate with everyone more effectively including providing them with expected timelines and milestones that will require their input. You can also reach out early in the project and determine if key people will be away during a crucial phase thus allowing you to mitigate situations early on.
Set a strong foundation by sharing details about the project and its participants. Start by sending an introductory email to all SMEs letting them know who you are and what your role is in the project. You may also wish to share the list of SMEs specific to your project so everyone is aware of who is participating. Those involved will need to know who to go to when they have questions — make it easy for them to communicate and your project will go much smoother. Don’t forget to obtain permission to share this information with the group before you do so!
Start your project with a kick-off meeting or call and include key project stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts. This allows everyone to get on the same page with the overall goals and schedule for the project. A screen sharing call would be ideal for this type of meeting, using apps such as Skype or Join.Me. During this call, you can familiarize everyone with key tools for the project and get their buy-in on regular meetings. A sample agenda may look like the following:
Regularly scheduled meetings can go a long way to your project's success. Getting these on your team’s calendar early will allow you to monitor progress, overview milestones or deadlines, and to discuss any challenges or risks to the project as a whole. If you don’t have anything to discuss that week, just cancel and give them back time in their day!
Start with your own industry research to give you a better understanding of the project material and the overall content. Having good background knowledge also gives you the ability to offer recommendations and prevent undesired learning outcomes.
Once you’ve done your research, begin by asking the questions that are the most important to your project:
Setting timelines will help overcome the challenges faced with project delays. Set up a work-back schedule that includes timelines for each milestone of the project. Detailing the information in this format will allow everyone to know what they need to do, when they need to start it, and when it needs to be completed. SMEs all have busy lives and projects are often extra work for which they’ve been "volunteered". Well defined timelines set everyone up for success with clear expectations.
Your preparedness to capture SMEs knowledge efficiently will result in their increased motivation to share their expertise. The quicker and easier the process is, the more likely they will be to do so. Beyond scheduling the tasks, there are other ways to demonstrate strong organization and project strucutre.
Keep yourself and the SMEs organized by keeping materials neatly ordered with easy and clean file names. Creating a filing name system such as yyyy-mm-dd Filename.pdf is key to successfully managing and tracking of the high number of documents and files.
Creating templates for commonly used documents allows you to stay organized and remain consistent with the type of information required for effective feedback management and collaboration. SMEs who are involved in multiple projects will appreciate the efficiency created from working with familiar documents.
Organize the project material in folders with a progressive and logical approach. Giving the SMEs structured folders that will allow them to sort and gather their knowledge efficiently.
As a project manager, one of your main goals is to ensure that you set up an environment in which every member involved in the project is successful. By following these tips you are more likely to successfully capture their shared knowledge and expertise while fostering confidence in your abilities to not only effectively manage project work internally (your team members) but also externally (your SMEs).
If you’ve faced any of these challenges in the past or simply want a partner for your next eLearning endeavour - let Flare Learning light up your relationships with Subject Matter Experts. We are just a call or a click away — reach out to us today!
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