Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Getting the Most Out of Your SME


Over the past few years, the process of custom content development has changed drastically. In its early years, content development was a simple process primarily because most of the information that was needed for developing learning or training content was available on the Internet. Content developers just had to conduct a simple search on the Internet, download all the relevant content, run it through a make-over process, package it neatly, and ship it to the customer on time. Subject matter experts (SMEs) played a marginal role in this process. In contrast, content developers today have to depend heavily on SMEs as the specialized information that they seek is no longer easy to procure. The growing need for customized learning or training content has made the developer’s task rather difficult. More and more organizations are now looking for training programs that are “customized” in every sense of the word. Developers therefore have to be in constant touch with SMEs to tailor training content to the needs of specific groups of employees, keeping in mind the niche areas where employees need to be up-skilled,..

The high dependency on SMEs has posed a new challenge for organizations involved in developing custom content for their customers. Extracting relevant information from SMEs is both arduous and time-consuming. It usually delays the release of training programs, which may have serious repercussions for the organization. Such delays may carry financial penalties or may cause customer dissatisfaction.

This article focuses on the two most common issues that development teams normally face while interacting with SMEs. It also provides a few suggestions on how these issues can be resolved.

The suggestions proposed here are based on the author’s experience and may not be applicable to all scenarios.

Problem No. 1: The SME does not have time

More often than not, delays in releasing learning or training content are attributed to the inability of the SME to devote sufficient time to the issues faced by content developers. To resolve this problem, it is imperative to know what is meant by “sufficient” time. The required amount of SME time should be communicated to the customer stakeholders as early as possible, that is, while proposing the engagement model. This measure will help gauge management commitment to providing SME time. It will also enable the organization to appropriately plan for project commercials. In addition, the SME turn-around-time (TAT) must be incorporated in the project plan to ensure that all timelines and delays are tracked.

Insufficient SME time may well be the key reason why organizations decide to hire vendors to develop training programs. In this scenario, it would be advisable to place a resource at the customer location who could “steal” additional windows of time from the SME so that the project is completed on time. Alternately, an internal SME can be hired and trained at the beginning of the project. This step will take some burden off the customer SME and reduce review iterations.

Problem No. 2: I am doing what I am paid to do

In some cases, SME time may not be the real issue. The problem may be related to the degree of willingness of SMEs to share information with content developers. In such cases, the question “What’s in it for me?” has to be answered precisely and carefully.

In such a scenario, the vendor organization needs to understand the perspective of both the customer management and the SME. For the management, leveraging SME’s knowledge in developing training programs is a way to creating a knowledge repository and building redundancy in the system. For the SME, it is additional work.

It is advisable to keep both the parties happy by giving brownie points to SMEs in their appraisal process for assisting in the development of training programs.


In today’s era of rapid technological change, the demand for specialists who can operate and manage new emerging technologies is increasing in leaps and bounds. Needless to say, this demand can be met only with efficient and timely training, and to create effective training programs, we need sufficient SME time. Are we back to square one?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Oracle Buys Global Knowledge Software

In yet another strategic move from Oracle, it acquired Global Knowledge Software to ensure that its end user training solutions are more robust. With this acquisition, Oracle will be able to provide just-in-time, Web-based training support across an enterprise.

Note that Global Knowledge Software has been associated with Oracle for a long time and the much appreciated Oracle User Productivity Kit (UPK) is in fact GSK's Personal Navigator product to the core.

Read more on the Trainingoutsourcing Website:

Friday, June 13, 2008

NIIT, Genpact form JV; to impart IT training

Genpact and NIIT Ltd announced their new joint venture, NIIT Institute of Process Excellence that will provide training programmes to skilled workers in the business and technology services industry.

NIIT will be 75% stakeholder in the JV and the companies are jointly planning to invest Rs 25 crore in the first year of operations. Genpact and NIIT expect the new institute to have over 250 learning centers by 2012. Genpact will provide most of the content for the training programmes with other partners. Read in detail here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Education portal solution for schools from IBM

IBM's Education portal is a simplified access system to all administration and instructional data at a school and state level. It is capable of inter-connecting your back-end systems, such as human resources, general ledger and purchasing, as well as student records, and instructional and curricular materials. Details and contact information may be obtained at the following link:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

NIIT Acquires Equity Stake in Evolv

NIIT recently announced that it has acquired stake in Evolv Management Services Private Limited. Evolv is a leading provider of English Language and Communication Training, headquartered in Noida, India. Read the details here.

With this acquisition, NIIT has taken another important step in becoming a complete training services provider. With Evolv under the NIIT umbrella, it will also compete and possibly take away a lot of business from the likes of Hero Mindmine, whose pureplay business is corporate training in areas similar to Evolv as well as customer service.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What does Google get by providing free games?

Ok, here is the latest addiction for all Google pros. Google has deployed this very interesting strategy for indexing its images so that Google users get better results. Check it out here:

You can log in as a Guest or sign in with your Google account. You will be paired with a randomly selected partner (any online Google users worldwide). Then, both you and the partner will see the same image and need to provide as many labels as possible for that image. The moment you and your partner provide a matching label, you get points for it and the next image is displayed. Needless to say, you cannot see the labels that your partner has provided until the allocated 2 minutes per round are over. Go ahead and give it a shot.

So what does Google get by providing free games? Well, with this fun, game experience, actually Google is getting the indexing done for all those images to appear in search results without paying a penny for the time and resources that all of us are spending!! Amazingly, Google comes up with such great ideas where they are actually getting a business project completed and its loyal users take it in the right spirit and enjoy the "games" while helping their own Google grow!