Why You need a Subject Matter Expert
Importance of an SME to maximize Value from Vendors
With software-as-a-service (SaaS) and the introduction of platform-as-a-service, it has become imperative that companies invest in maximizing the value of their services. Investing time and resources in having an internal employee become a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or bringing in someone who will offer immediate return and benefits outweigh the costs. A Subject Matter Expert, or SME, is someone on your internal team with a comprehensive understanding and training of a particular technology, process, or function that fits into the company’s overall mission and its objectives. Whether you have many pieces in your technology stack or prefer an all-in-one system, having an expert in-house has many benefits and is paramount to a successful technology vendor-partner relationship. Your in-house expert is an internal resource your team can turn to for questions, best practices, and training is key to leveraging your service to utilizing it to its full potential. This article will outline a few key benefits of an SME when internally instituted.
SME involvement in ongoing Training
An SME can help with onboarding new employees and develop a training course specifically designed to educate them on your company’s workflow in the software such as:
- Save on training costs
- Reduce training times
- Establish consistent manner of training
- Provide shortcuts to successful usage
- Ensure a positive experience with the system
Consistency is critical in training as all newly onboarded employees, and recruiters will learn your unique processes right away and the right way. The SME will ensure that each employee has the skills and knowledge to effectively utilize your vendors’ software while asserting themselves as the main point of contact for future questions.
Higher Quality and timely Support and Service
A pain point many companies have with their vendors revolves around customer service. The time between replies may be too long for high-priority questions, or the support specialist may not fully understand your workflow when answering. An SME can alleviate both issues with relative ease as they have a deep understanding of your vendor’s software, allowing them to answer almost any technical question. Suppose your vendor’s support team is needed. In that case, the SME, who should have a strong relationship with their support team, can state the issue clearly and work with them to efficiently resolve any issue faster than other employees.
While resolving any issues, the SME can also suggest alternative tools within your vendor’s software they feel may assist in automating and streamlining your company’s process. Becoming your team’s first point of contact for questions also builds morale and trust internally, as there are more interactions between your team members. If you are a company owner, they will also be the first to discuss any shortfalls of your vendor or provide tangible feedback on how the vendor is beneficial.
SME Best Practices
As mentioned above, an SME will have a comprehensive understanding of how your vendor’s software works, along with any possible shortcuts and new features. Although software vendors consistently add new parts and functionalities to their systems, having each of your employees learn these new releases or integrations through webinars, training videos, or written documentation takes away from their workday. Here are some best practices for your company’s SME:
Create streamlined training that demonstrates how the system removes bottlenecks within the company’s workflow. Solving a pain point like this is a great way to quickly gain software adoption as it gives time back to focus on recruiting.
Stay up to date on new updates and releases and understand how that affects your company’s day-to-day workflow. Create quick summaries of updates and new releases, as this gives an outlet for the company to do some research and development on how to prepare for change and scale.
Get feedback from users to your SME. As updates and releases roll out, it’s important how they fit in with the company and its growth. Users who interact with the system daily can provide feedback on what is working, the pain points and indicate which functions are not in use or that a future release could resolve these issues. Also, the SME could communicate the needs to the vendor and request new features. Who knows, maybe others have asked for the same feature in their system?
Ultimately, receiving the maximum value from your vendor is essential to ensure ROI and productivity and a driving force to have a dedicated SME. They can react quickly to new features, discovering the best ways to implement them into your recruiting process.
Implementing an SME
Implementing an SME in your internal team may seem like a daunting task, but the work is worth the reward and maybe easier than you think.
Employers need to be diligent in hiring for this role, clearly explaining the purpose and function of the position using the software, along with potentially including assessment tests. A dedicated employee focusing on maximizing value from your vendor’s systems while minimizing costs is of utmost importance as an internal SME. The emergence of SMEs signals a desire for companies to invest in their vendor partners and their employee’s success. SME’s offer various advantages and an opportunity for continued company growth.