Subject Matter Experts – Maximizing Collaboration Time

uxb_smeThe goal with Collaboration should always be to gain more insights and to refine existing insights.Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are golden.  But their time is even more golden and that is something that needs to be respected.

Each time we collaborate with our Subject Matter Experts, as Business Analysts, we need to keep the session focused on a small set of stories.

Collaboration is great but it can be better when collaboration goals and topics are framed properly.  For example, if you are collaborating with your Subject Matter Expert in person, bring your tool kit:

  • Sharpies of different colors
  • Whiteboard Markers
  • Fidget toys
  • Stickies/ Postits
  • Index Cards
  • Masking Tape
  • Flip Charts

Also help the SMEs visualize the decisions they need to make by having a small set of slides that you can project on the wall and manipulate as the collaboration gets going.  Let the SMEs know ahead of time what information you are looking for them to bring to the collaboration sessions.  During the collaboration sessions, ensure alignment among all SMEs at each step in the collaborations even if that means not moving forward until everyone is on same page.

Collaboration in an Agile way is all about conversation over process, but if you apply a light structure and scope to your collaboration sessions, you will maximize productivity and ensure collaborations are productive.

A stressed out SME results in missed insights.  Look for ways to reduce stress and show empathy.  Ensure that your collaboration sessions are not the reason for the stress the SME is experiencing.




Good UX starts with Empathy


Too often as designers we stitch together ideas that are from common UX Patterns… but did you stop and listen to your stakeholder first so that you can tailor the UX Pattern to the needs of the stakeholder?  Did you walk a mile in their shoes and really experience their pain?  Did you take off your shoes first and feel how painful their shoes are?

Empathy Is not walking in another’s shoes.  First you must remove your own. – Scott Cook, founder Intuit

If you find yourself caught up with the process/ methodology of designing a great experience… take a step back and simply feel what the stakeholders are feeling… perform their job for a day… then exhale and tailor the experience towards the stakeholders.

Here’s a few articles that will help you exercise the empathetic part of your wiring: