Now Available: Finding Your SMEs Workshops

The Value, Scarcity and Difficulty of Working with Subject Matter Experts

Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting Working with SMEs to a group of subject matter experts at the inaugural AGXPE conference attended by compliance and regulatory folks from the biopharmaceutical industry. Nothing is more fun or educational than playing with colleagues and sharing info.

Kudos to John Lewis of Merck, Ken Petelinkar of BMS and Tammy Cullen of Lilly for pulling off a great event. Next year’s show is already being planned. Check them out and join the group at At present, membership is free.

I attended the conference as a vendor but abandoned my post for most of the conference so I could hear what other people have to say about some of my favorite topics – quality, leadership and training needs analysis.

Despite all that, I learned a lot in my own session because I gave out evaluations in which I confirmed some things and gathered some valuable intelligence. I confirmed that SMEs have inestimable value to their organizations (obvious), SMEs can be scarce when you need them and they can be notoriously difficult to work with for any number of reasons, most often because they are in high demand and stretched thin.

Now, about the results of my intelligence gathering. I violated several rules of presenting by trying to stuff 10 pounds of feed in a five pound sack and did a bait-and-switch because the last third of my session was market research.

However, here’s what that little foray into no-no land netted:

  1. Some companies are talking to some SMEs and getting the info they need for organizational continuity. Some aren’t.
  2. Whether they are or they are not talking to the right SMEs and assembling their knowledge management plan, every respondent believed their company would benefit from a formal process to identify their internal SMEs.

That bit of confirmation means I am formally launching a Finding Your SMEs Workshop. The workshop is already developed and I am scheduling one local test case in suburban Philadelphia in the next few months. However, I would prefer to have at least 3 or 4 test cases. The pilots will help refine the Finding Your SMEs process and be presented as case studies in a book in development. The workshop and process can be adapted for any size enterprise and business size is one of the variables in the design.

Looking for More Test Pilots

For the foreseeable future, which means until I gather enough info to feel confident I’ve isolated most of the outlier issues, I am offering pilot half-day workshops for up to 20 people for a very low cost – basically enough to cover my expenses and keep the lights on while I do my research. I can reasonably do two workshops a month to spend enough time with each company. It would be great to have at least 3 or 4 company case studies before I publish the next book.

If you are interested in being one of the test sites, please write to me at or respond to this email if you are reading this as part of my mailing list. If you aren’t on the mailing list, please sign up on the blog homepage.

Thank you for reading. Comments below are welcome!


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