How would you explain this to an SME?

An SME is asking for our source files, so that they can use it for other miscellaneous training/discussion purposes. We want to explain in a professional and tactful way that we don't want them to have our files. Not only because we worked so hard on them , but mostly because we want our styles/standards, etc to be used only for our eLearning courses, not in other ways, that we have no control over.

Any suggestions?

17 Replies
Steve Flowers

Often, when I've had requests for source files, folks often aren't looking for the source files at all. They are looking for media elements (videos, illustrations). Perhaps this is the case?


I think direct honesty is the best policy. If you want to protect the integrity of the source materials (assuming PPT files) you might want to let them know directly. It may also be helpful to point out that the materials were designed for one specific purpose and may not be optimal for classroom presentation or other purposes in the current state.

David Anderson

If you're working with internal SMEs, it's possible there are guidelines that govern how media elements are used from one department to another. In most cases, however, the training group is more dependent on other lines of business for graphics, so that might be another reason to share them.

For external clients, there might be legal reasons not to turn over assets if some assets were purchased and used in your final product. You could offer your assets for a price if the SMEs wish to reuse them. But that's a tougher conversation after project transfer.

Steve Flowers

I've taken on a policy of "no attachment" (unless I own it) after release It still makes me wince when someone drops a boston steamer in the middle of my carefully designed work, but people will do what people will do. And I've found that removing my ego from the relationship with content better serves the relationship with partners and stakeholders. Don't get me wrong, I still have a HUGE ego. But I try to be mindful when I take it out for walks - so far it hasn't bitten the neighbors and everyone is relatively happy

I have made commitments to help folks learn to be more responsible with my hard work. But I rarely (read never) turn down requests to deliver source materials.

Chris Dunham

You could take a learner-centric / legalistic approach.

"We should collaborate about desired changes or additions to the materials to make sure that the change enhances the learners experience and won't confuse them by accidentally changing the context of the learning element. Also, for non-internally created graphics and illustrations, we need to be very careful about IP, copyrights, and trademarks as accidental missteps will get our legal councils involved, and we don't want that".

Just a thought.

Holly MacDonald

It's a work-for-hire situation for me (in Canada) and they legally own the intellectual property since I'm a freelancer.

When I worked internally, we created templates for use that we could give to SME's and offered to work with them, so that there were consistent elements (and we worked with corporate communications/marketing, too).

You could offer consulting services to review/publish, but consistency in look might be good for your brand. I'd see it as an opportunity to collaborate and embrace it!

Good luck

Michael Sellers

Christina,

Christina Atamian said:

An SME is asking for our source files, so that they can use it for other miscellaneous training/discussion purposes. We want to explain in a professional and tactful way that we don't want them to have our files. Not only because we worked so hard on them , but mostly because we want our styles/standards, etc to be used only for our eLearning courses, not in other ways, that we have no control over.

Any suggestions?

I have internal departments wanting use what our department builds for "miscellaneous training and demonstration purposes".  I try to provide them a link to the published file on a shared server.  This way the training is presented as it loaded into our LMS.  I remove the navigation restrictions so they can quickly pop into whatever section they want.

This keeps the message clean and a little harder to get "diluted".

Heather Steckley

If I read this right, everyone involved works at the same company, and the SMEs are asking for PPT files to save them time creating a presentation for another training presentation that your group won't be involved in.  The way I see it is the SMEs like your PPT template and need help getting started creating a presentation.  If you don't give it to them, they'll just try to recreate something like it... spending lots of time and not doing nearly as good a job as they would have if you gave them the files and some helpful tips on how to use them.

Maybe it's because I work at a small company, but this would never even be a question here.  It's a company asset, and if it's going to help another department, then of course they can use them.  Departments don't own assets.  Companies do.  Share them.  It's really not going to hurt anything.  And you'll be building bridges with your SMEs, not tearing them down.

Of course, nobody knows your company politics and policies better than yourself.  If you're dead set against giving them the files, I'd recommend helping them build a template that meets their needs.  That way you still stay in their good graces as well as keep your files out of their hands.

Just my thoughts, for what they're worth.  I hope it all works out for you.

Stephanie Harnett

I agree with Phil and others who have commented on attachment. It is good to step aside and share, particularly when this is happening within the same company. It's kind of like these forums; some pretty amazing things happen when we share freely and willingly.

I have handed over project source files quite often over the years and the one thing I make sure to do ensure that others understand I created the course or template for a reason with a specific look and feel and functionality. This version has my name on it. Once others modify what I have created, it becomes theirs and any references to me are removed.
 
While others are busy leveraging and modifying, I am onto other things - new things that will hopefully also catch their eyes in the future and be leveraged in ways that give others a hand up in creating better elearning and presentations.

Stephanie

: )

Efrat Maor

In the past there was a stirct rule in my comany that training materisl are not passed to any one. These were mostly product related trainings, that we use in training both internally as well as our customers. Customers might re-buy our courses over and over agian to train new employees. A lot of money is involved.

Since I did not want to tell others that I am not allowed to give them the presentations/materils since they might leak to customers, I used to explain that the customers need to feel that they recieved unique content in our courses, for which they paid thousends of dolladrs for. If the same materils will be used in pre-sales or my consultants, we as a company will look bad.

These days the policy has changed.
Product training is a small part of what we do, and materials are available to all employees inside the training portal.

BTW - if just the template is what you are concerened about - why not change it? 

Steven Leibensperger

I work for a State agency with several divisions.

Heather Steckley said:

...It's a company asset, and if it's going to help another department, then of course they can use them.  Departments don't own assets.  Companies do.  Share them.  It's really not going to hurt anything.  And you'll be building bridges with your SMEs, not tearing them down.


I agree with Heather on this.  Each company is different,  but if your SME is internal, then you're both on the same team, right?  All for the good of the company? 

Plus, in my experience, most SME's are not very familiar with e-learning and what's involved.  Helping them out can help you later as well.  Why make an enemy if you can make a friend?  Perhaps that SME will be appreciative and learn more about your process.  The next time that SME needs a course built, he/she will be better prepared and aware of what you do and require; thus making your job easier.

Bruce Graham

The only issue if it is internal-to-internal is that if another department has "training" slides, they can offer "training" as "consultancy", thereby diluting internal or external revenue stream for the people that created the IP. This all depends on whether you have internal cross-charging, and the various ways to recognise revenue.

I have seen this many times. The route has always been to ensure all training is routed through the training department (DOH!!), a process change that can take a few months to achieve....

In current role, running my own business, the client can have exactly what they want, (except rights to images, sounds, video etc. that I have purchased and kept...).

Bruce

Natalia Mueller

If you purchased images thru your company, it depends on how they're being used. If it's still internal, sharing may not be an issue since it was actually the company that bought the license. Of course licenses vary, so if it IS still an issue you can do what a lot of folks here in the community do, just remove the images with restrictions and share the rest. Including a note that explains that licensed images had to be removed will typically clear up any confusion. 

Anne Goldenberger

We create new templates for each department/system. I've had other departments request a template that was used on another project,  but I explained to them that it really is part of the branding of our training materials - each system or dept. has its own 'look' and if they used the template for something completely different, it would be confusing for our learners.

I pointed them to the  Powered Templates site and the Microsoft site for PPT templates, and they were very happy with that.  No time wasted trying to create their own template, and no confusion for our learners.