• Shelley

    Brad, you must really be reaching into the bottom of the “publishing topics titles” to come up with this one. Not only is it unnecessary for you to tell anyone who works on technical projects that SMEs are important… YOUR ENTIRE THESIS IS JUST PLAIN WRONG!!!

    It is NOT the project manager’s responsibility to “track down end users and technical support individuals.” First, the PM doesn’t know who these people are; then, he has no idea how much information they can provide or how much time the project will need from them. The job of identifying SMEs and their time requirements belongs to the members of the project team who will be working with those experts.

    The Project Managers job is to make the project plan, and he/she cannot do that in a vacuum. No matter how much experience a PM has in the specific technical workplace in which he works, on any given project he/she is not the authority on what work must be done or how long it will take. For this he/she needs the input of the actual project workforce.

    Project Managers are coordinators and facilitators. Their job is to ascertain work, resources, and time required to do a job. This information is provided to him/her by the project team; he/she does not generate them out of his own mind, or pull them out of the air (or some other orifice). The estimates of SME workload and time must come from the project team who must deal with and rely on the SMEs. The Project Manager simply does not know this information (or estimates).

    With respect to SME resources (people, work, and time), the Project Manager’s job is to put together a set of SME requirements, estimated project efforts, and a timeline for their participation in the project. The second step is to present those requirements and the associated taskplan to both his/her own management, and negotiate (as a representative of his/her management) for the commitment of that time by the SME management chain. That is the Project Manager’s job, not finding, negotiating with, or supervising SMEs.

    • begeland

      Hi again Shelley…and welcome back to your podium of challenging me, my writings and my thought processes. 🙂 You are correct…no project manager is really going to track these individuals down. But I was simplifying to get this to fit more concisely into a 500-800 word article, if possible. I rely – as all PMs must – on the customer side project lead to put together SMEs to aid in the process of defining business processes that the delivery team must be aware of and requirements that must be documented as we figure out the entire scope of the project. Creating a vacuum would be a terrible mistake, yes. But there is an assumption that the project manager relies on the project customer side to help put these SMEs in place…there has to be. But I wasn’t looking to put together a 2000 word article on this topic. And others are finding this helpful so I will continue to write on topics such as these and I will continue to do my best to make them brief, but interesting. I’ll leave some of it to the overly pompous experts like you to have an opportunity to go even deeper if you feel the need. 🙂 Thanks for clarifying the obvious…

      • Shelley

        Brad, in reading your response, I’m reminded of one of my favorite comparisons between the acronyms K.I.S.S. and K.I.L.L.

        [see my LinkedIn post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/kiss-kill-shelley-horwitz?trk=mp-reader-card%5D

        Most Americans recognize “keep it simple, stupid,” and the English probably recognize “keep it lucid, Limey.” Unfortunately, as you yourself stated, you tried to keep it simple (and brief) at the expense of clarity and correctness. And you put your finger exactly on the crux of the problem for the Project Management industry. Many YOUNG project managers will read your simple article and draw incorrect conclusions about how to be a GOOD project manager. Simplicity, when it is correct, is elegant. When it is NOT correct, it is a disaster. It is far more important to be lucid than it is to be simple.

        I personally prefer lucidity which means clear, concise, complete, and correct information and language. My comments are NOT exactly obvious. I simply tried to step in and correct some misconceptions that you fostered. Maybe a young PM will read my comments and not make the mistake of assuming that your article is correct — that he/she has greater responsibility, wider span of control, and more authority than he/she really has.

        I have said many times, on many occasions, and commenting about many articles, that Project Managers ARE NOT leaders of projects. They are facilitators who provide a valuable service to the people who do actually lead projects. PMs are support functionaries. They deal with exactly three things IN A PROJECT PLAN: work, resources, and time. They provide information to plan and execute projects, track projects, and keep projects on time and on budget. They DO NOT do the work, assign people to do the work, manage those people, or interface with the SMEs who provide the information to make the work successful.

        Unfortunately, too many authors try to drop “simple” little breadcrumbs in the rivers and oceans of Project Management with little or no regard for the ripples those tidbits generate and the problems they cause. You cannot take a lifetime of experience and cram it into 500 – 800 words and NOT expect repercussions. I believe that it is far more important to be lucid than simple. At the very least, my comments serve as a warning to take all 500 word advisories with a grain of salt and DO considerably more thinking about what those 500 words mean and imply. The answer to the question “Why do so many projects fail?” is probably “Because too many project managers read too many 500 – 800 word articles without discerning the difference between ‘simplicity’ and ‘lucidity.’ ”

        [NOTE: Just BTW, the ACTIVITY/OUTPUT table in your article is grammatically incorrect. Column 2 does not contain OUTPUT!!! It contains actions (started by verbs: offer, review, establish, build, prepare). To be correct in the English language you should simply remove the verbs. For example: The OUTPUT of “Advise project
        manager on technology strategy” is “Technical advice and
        a recommended strategy.”]

  • The Dude

    This article is a copy and paste from here: http://pmtips.net/blog-new/subject-matter-expert

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