You may already be using subject matter experts to deliver training and see the huge benefits that this model brings. You may have considered using them or used them already without success. Whichever camp you fall into, in this blog I am going to explore the pros and cons of using subject matter experts within your organisation. I am going to share a real live case study from Stockport Homes who have had great success with their ‘Facilitator Pathway’ programme, which was introduced in 2015 and has been reaping rewards ever since.

Liz Chadwick, Head of Organisational Development at Stockport Homes said about the (Learning Loop) Facilitator Pathway:

“The Facilitator Pathway is fundamental to SHG’s approach to personal growth and development.  It has enabled us to provide development opportunities for our team members whilst addressing learning needs across the organisation.  Having a tailored approach based on organisational priorities and policies allows us to get it right first time”

So why would you consider using subject matter experts and not external consultants? Here are just a few considerations:

  • Training budgets are limited or about to be cut
  • The specialist external consultants in the subject of interest do not always understand the intricacies of how it applies to your organisation and you want the training to be tailored
  • You have a lot of external consultants coming in as you need the training frequently as part of your compliance requirements.

Stockport Homes introduced the facilitator pathway alongside other career development pathways in 2015 to strengthen their personal growth offer and generate efficiencies. This pathway provided stretch and recognition of talent, whilst knowledge sharing with other colleagues. The pathway has been a fundamental part of SHG’s Learning and Development Plan, providing bespoke solutions internally across the group.

Here are some of the pros and cons of using subject matter experts:

Pros

  • They have knowledge not only relevant to your industry but the application in your organisation
  • Cost savings* see table below
  • Promotes a learning culture where learning is not ‘owned’ by L&D but can be seen to be done by anyone who is willing and with an aptitude
  • Person is a known and respected part of the organisation
  • Tailored to the organisation
  • Opportunities to build team cohesion when leaders and managers are involved

Cons

  • They are not trainers or facilitators, so may not be able to put their subject across in an engaging or impactful way
  • Their ‘day job’ pulls them away from delivering the learning
  • A consultant will know what trends are happening in the broader industry and be able to share those
  • Employees may not think out of the box
  • Lack of inclusion and diversity if hearing the same voices
  • Outdated content?

Since 2015, I have been running the Learning Loop programme for the Facilitator Pathway for Stockport Homes. Part of the needs analysis identified that the main driver was to save the £1000 per day fee that external consultants were charging. There have been significant money savings since 2015, although it is difficult to be exact in the tracking of all the days the subject matter experts have trained.

Below is a very conservative estimate of how much money will have been saved by the July 2022. Most cohorts have had 12 participants and the cost of the training (mainly safeguarding) has not been adjusted for inflation over the last 6 years. Some of the people on the Facilitator Pathway have done maybe 10 days training whereas others have done none. Therefore, to give an idea of the sort of savings that could be had, we have assumed just 2 days training per year per person since 2015. You can see that will mean by this time next year they will have (conservatively) saved £320,000

Facilitators trained (cumulative total) Days trained per person annually Money saved that year (£1000 per day)
2015 10
2016 10 2 £20,000.00
2017 20 2 £20,000.00
2018 30 2 £40,000.00
2019 40 2 £60,000.00
2020 40 0* £0.00
2021 50 2 £80,000.00
2022 2 £100,000.00
TOTAL £320,000.00

*2020 no training face to face due to COVID19

The impact of these figures speak for themselves. As a consultant, if the client knows annually, I am going to be saving them initially £20,000, my fee in comparison will seem insignificant.

Training subject matter experts is not the same as training trainers or facilitators. They do not have experience in how people learn or how to create engaging learning activities. The role of any programme to help them deliver training in an impactful and engaging way is to:

  • Role model great practice
  • Provide simple models to follow to make analysis, design, delivery and evaluation straightforward.
  • Give them confidence that they can facilitate (not just present)
  • Inspire them to design quickly for themselves, relevant and interesting activities without the need to buy in ‘activities’
  • Help them to deliver learning that is business focussed as well as brain friendly (not just one of these!)
  • Be pitched at a level where the SME’s may have no L&D knowledge

If you would like to know about the impact of the Learning Loop programme on the participants of the “Facilitator Pathway” look at some of the comments from past participants:

“Motivates me to think outside the box and make a different way of learning key to improving the organisation”

“Very interesting, not what I thought it was going to be. Have always had training but not like this. Was much better :)”

“Energising and inspiring. You get lots and lots of different tools and ideas to make training interesting.”

“Very informative. Brilliant teaching techniques and great activities”

 “Really interesting training that helps to inspire you and bring out your creative side”

Liz Chadwick, Head of Organisational Development at Stockport Homes said about the Facilitator Pathway: “The Facilitator Pathway is fundamental to SHG’s approach to personal growth and development.  It has enabled us to provide development opportunities for our team members whilst addressing learning needs across the organisation.  Having a tailored approach based on organisational priorities and policies allows us to get it right first time”

Contact us to find out how we can help develop your subject matter experts to deliver training in-house to save you money year on year.

 

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