New Project Now Available: Best Practices for Working with SMEs

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The ITCC has just released its latest project, Best Practices for Working with SMEs, created by the ITCC SPARC (Speed, Agility, Rapid Change) task force, a group focused on sharing best practices to address issues created by agile development practices of products/solutions and how those impact the exam and certification lifecycle.

The project is a presentation designed to shed light on all areas program managers should consider when working with subject matter experts, from recruitment, training and retention, to internal policies and measuring performance.

SME Recruiting, Training, and Retention

Finding a good SME is like finding a needle in a haystack. It takes work to find them, and then it becomes just as important to ensure they integrate into your organization and understand their role so they are inclined to stay. In this section of the presentation, program managers will find best practices for recruiting, training, and retaining subject matter experts.

  • Recruitment: Tips for how to identify and qualify SMEs, define expectations and assess the value of SMEs.
  • Training: Considerations for ensuring SMEs understand the “why” of your work and organization, the amount of information to share with SMEs and processes and tools to aid in the training process. 
  • Retention: Best practices that ensure SMEs feel that their contributions are valued, see opportunities for them to expand their existing knowledge and network, and feel engaged with their work and the organization.


Another consideration for program managers is the area of policies. From the SME selection policy, to application of the company’s DEI policy in selecting SMEs (or creating a DEI policy if one doesn’t already exist), program managers should decide what policies already exist and what policies need to be put in place. One best practice noted in the presentation is that documenting and publishing a SME policy ensures fair, consistent acceptance of SMEs and can also provide standards for declining a SME who does not meet the policy.  

SME Pool Management

This section of the presentation walks program managers through considerations and best practices for managing their SME pool. Topics covered include:

  • Ideas for approaches and tools available, including the capability of those approaches and tools and the data being collected.
  • How program managers should think about conflict of interest, including where it could come up and how it should be addressed.
  • Best practices for how program managers can show their appreciation for their SMEs, including demonstrating how SMEs have added value to their projects and the organization as a whole.

Evaluating Performance

The final section of the presentation provides best practices for how to evaluate the performance of your organization’s SMEs. Users of the presentation will find a list of characteristics to consider and a performance snapshot.

Access the Project and Additional Resources

Member organizations interested in using the presentation, in part or whole based on their business needs, should visit the Project Library of ITCC website. Along with the full presentation, there are also additional resources on this topic available in the project appendix, including ITCC vendor member companies who can assist you in this work, as well as downloadable resources like an item writing checklist and training companion, item writing and toss sample charts, and more.

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