Can You Spot A Subject Matter Expert? - November 3, 2017

Contracting with consultants is a common practice for many businesses. For example, you might bring in an expert to review your sales processes, consult on product safety or help build a go-to-market strategy. These consulting services are typically expensive, and sometimes, at the end of the engagement, you are disappointed because the consultant wasn't as knowledgeable or experienced as you originally thought.

Consultants or subject matter experts (SMEs) should bring real-world examples, best practices and solutions that will positively impact your business. They should be your go-to resources who help resolve complex issues. Most importantly, they should be able to hit the ground running once they understand your unique environment, and work independently to deliver project tasks.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share tips for spotting a true SME from consultant Raleigh deShazo.

Five Tips For Identifying Qualified SMEs:

1. SMEs have a documented history of working in the area for which they are an expert.

2. SMEs have actually done the work. They've rolled up their sleeves throughout their career. Therefore, they not only understand your challenges, but the details within those challenges. They've specified requirements, written customer scripts, supported data validation, documented business and sales processes, and managed critical projects.

3. SMEs have longevity in the industry and understand industry best practices and can communicate those insights to help you improve your business model.

4. SMEs understand customer needs. When you design a product to meet a need, you're addressing the problems, concerns, or desires of the people who will utilize it on a regular basis. SMEs know how to meld design to improve user performance.

5. SMEs lower project costs. SMEs deliver project tasks more quickly, more accurately, and more thoroughly than your typical business analyst. While they may bill at a higher rate, overall project costs are usually lower. They can establish processes and training so that your team can manage the same challenges in-house in the future.

6. The best SMEs can do it all, serving equally well as a project manager, a business analyst, trainer, visionary or a quality assurance lead supporting the business.

7. SMEs should ultimately save you time and resources, not create more work and more expense.

8. SMEs should bring connections to your business as well. If they've been in your industry or area of specialty, then they should be able to connect you to potential future partners or key future employees.

9. Most of all SMEs love what they do; they have a sense of entrepreneurship and are always looking for the next challenge and next adventure.

Source: Raleigh deShazo manages Shaw Resource Solutions, the consulting division of Shaw Systems. The group has successfully delivered hundreds of projects for companies across the country, including some of the nation's largest banks and finance companies.

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