How to Best Utilize Subject Matter Experts
SMEs can be extremely valuable to an organization, but only if you know how to use them. To get the most out of your SMEs, you first need to look at your projects. Which of your projects need or would benefit from an SME? You might think this is quick and easy to answer, but that’s not always the case. Consider a development team developing a new application for tracking finances. You know it will require a wide array of coding skills, you may even know it will require some marketing skills (designing the interface, writing the content), but depending on the function of the application you may need legal experts (an SME) to ensure your application follows state and federal regulations for financial information.
Once you know where and what kinds of SMEs are needed for your projects, it’s time to get to know the SMEs in your organization. Depending on the size of your organization, you may not know exactly what SMEs are available to you. You can send out surveys or talk with team leaders to learn exactly what special skills and certifications are at your disposal when planning projects.
When you know where SMEs are needed on projects and exactly which subject areas your SMEs cover, you can start matching them to projects. While SMEs might perform more general work some of the time, keep in mind that they became SMEs for a reason. They likely enjoy their subject matter and would prefer to use their special knowledge as much as possible. Don’t be shy when assigning SMEs to projects. For every project, ask yourself if this project could be improved with an SME and if you have one available.