In any project venture, large or small, a list of requirements is must be obtained from a targeted area. People are the main resources for information regarding a project. Requirement details are only as good as the sources information is obtained from, thus the SME.
SME, Subject Matter Expert, is a title normally associated with technical personnel but the title works for business resources as well. To avoid missing, ineffective, or statements that don’t give detail, it’s best to gather information from resources with a depth of knowledge. The SME could be anyone with understanding of the nuances and modifications a process, procedure, tool, or application has evolved to in its present form. Projects have a defined timeline and a project manager is aware delays will occur but to deliver a project on time, superior knowledge is a must. A project will have rough and slow progress if resources delivering requirements are new or uninformed.
There are instances where a staff associate is thrown onto a project to represent a department and is not knowledgeable of processes. Knowledge gaps affect numerous firms and knowledge retention is a major issue. If a department neophyte must be on a project it would help to assign a mentor to assist the less informed associate. A SME should know the “What,” and if they don’t know the “What” the SME knows how to start the detective search and “Who” may have the answers. To obtain quality requirements, assign quality resources, assign a SME. If a SME is not available implement a SME mentor or create a partnership involving a SME.