SME Review Cycle – Does the SME’s Role Matter?

As part of my continuing blog posts on SME Review Cycles, I’m now ready to take on whether or not the SME’s role matters in the review. My initial guess would be “yes” – but I did a large linked in survey to find out what others thought.

If you’re somewhat new to instructional design, you might wonder why this matters. It matters if your project involves SMEs that ignore timelines and throw your whole project off schedule. So – let’s find out if that consistently happens with certain roles:

The first question checks my assumption – that other IDs have noticed a trend in certain roles. I asked, “Do you estimate time required for reviewing deliverables differently based on the role of the subject matter expert?”  I found the response to this question quite surprising.  46 responded to this question with only 58% saying that yes – they scheduled differently based on role.

The comments ran along the lines of “it depends more on their workload than their role”.

Next I asked yes respondents to select those roles that they typically estimate more time for. 28 answered this question. I was surprised by how evenly the answers were scattered across roles.

So, in this case, my research disproved one of my assumptions. SME role is not as important to a schedule as I thought.

For other blogs on working with SMEs, see these:

SME Review Cycle – Scheduling Duration

SME Review Cycle – Does Content Matter

Formative Evaluations – 4 Types of Feedback

SME Meetings – Productive or Frustrating?

Leigh Anne Lankford is an instructional designer with 20 years’ experience in the field of HRD. She is a Relationship Manager for TrainingPros in Atlanta, working closely with training and development departments of large organizations to identify, attract, and on-board contract employees for very specific and specialized training and development needs. You can reach Leigh Anne at  

2 Responses to “SME Review Cycle – Does the SME’s Role Matter?”
  1. Dale Baker says:

    Although I did not participate in the survey, I have to agree with the results. In my case, the training product had to go through multiple reviews and review time increased in duration as I went from Task Expert, to Project Owner, and finally Operations. It may be interesting to note, statistically speaking, that as the reviewing bodies got further away from the actual process, the longer it took. As others have mentioned, as the number of SME’s goes up, the time the ID needs to allow for review goes up as well. Nathan T. Eckel wrote a great article on SME collaboration for the March 2010 issue of T+D which is a good read on this subject.

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