Re: Interviewing Subject Matter Experts

Subject: Re: Interviewing Subject Matter Experts
From: Chris Gooch <Chris -at- lightwork -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 18:46:45 +0100

Tina wrote:

* What have you done or would you recommend doing to establish a good
working relationship with the SMEs with whom you will be working? What would

you recommend doing to maintain the relationship?

* If you have ever had difficulty getting information from non-responsive
SMEs, what is the most creative way you have found to resolve the problem?


Different for a contractor perhaps, but for permanent TWers...

I think the best overall advice is not to think of SMEs as the enemy,
to be engaged in occasional encounters known as "interviews"...
go to the pub with them, play football (err, soccer) with them, make
tea or coffee, talk to them about general stuff as well as work, and
just generally hang out with them. In fact, avoid the "us/me" and "them"
roles entirely.

I work on docs for two main products, and it's been important to me not to
be thought of as a seperate entity or belonging to a seperate department,
but to be thought of as part of the team... so now I am part of two teams.
This also has the advantage of twice as many SRPs (software release

The trick is to foster an attitude that it's everyone's reposnsibility to
good docs done, you're just one of the team... likewise it's everyone's
reponsibility to ensure that the product is good (so your feedback on design
or user interface issues should be valued...).

My most "creative" method of getting info out of an SME? Well, one of
the engineers here used to be my lodger... the threat of homelessness
if he didn't produce me some draft documentation worked wonders... :-)

Christopher Gooch, Technical Author,
LightWork Design Ltd., Sheffield, England.
chris -at- lightwork -dot- co -dot- uk


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