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A subject matter expert (SME) is the definitive source of knowledge, technique, or expertise in a specific subject area, such as business management, information technology, software development, process engineering. The SME functions as the organizational ambassador for his knowledge area, and he applies his expertise to support an organization’s vision and strategic direction.
Main Duties and Responsibilities
A subject matter expert understands, articulates and implements best practices related to his area of expertise. Depending on the work environment, the subject matter expert may lead or be an active participant of a work-group with the need for specialized knowledge. The subject matter expert provides guidance on how his area of capability can resolve an organizational need and actively participates in all phases of the software development life cycle.
During software development assignments, the subject matter expert is responsible for defining business requirements and recommending a technical approach to meet those needs. He also generates design specifications for software development, which typically involves translating business requirements into detailed algorithms for coding.
The SME oversees the development, testing and implementation of the technical solution and validates that the final product satisfies the defined requirements. He reviews technical documentation, such as user guides, training manuals and system specifications, prior to distribution to end-users and ensures his subject area is accurately represented.
Business Relationship Management
A subject matter expert must cultivate and maintain effective working relationships with a variety of stakeholders, including end-users, project managers, engineers and senior staff members. The nature of the position involves actively participating in multiple work-groups at one time and disseminating information across all levels of the organization.
The subject matter expert is articulate and communicates information effectively to diverse audiences. She translates subject matter terminology into business terms, and recommends alternatives to both senior management and software developers. The SME also performs product demonstrations in a variety of settings, including internal meetings, training sessions and trade shows.
Employers generally require candidates to have completed a bachelor's degree program, preferably in business. A MBA/advanced degree may be preferred. In addition to certification in the individual's area of expertise, Six Sigma Black Belt or Green Belt professional certifications are highly desired credentials.
Individuals interested in pursuing the position of subject matter expert should have a minimum of ten years of directly related work experience in their area of expertise. Related knowledge and experience in business management, core system configuration, software development life cycle,Reports, Interface, Conversion, Enhancement & Forms development, systems testing and business process re-engineering are considered beneficial. Individuals who have worked in a global, highly matrixed business environment are especially effective in this position.
According to salary data from Glassdoor.com, the median expected salary for a subject matter expert in the United States is $79,474, as of 2014. Factors such as employer, industry, experience and benefits can dramatically affect a subject matter expert’s compensation.
Alyssa Guzman has written online content for eHow and Answerbag since 2010. She is a "journalist of all trades" and writes on many subjects including travel and leisure, animal health, informaton technology, business etiquette and exotic flowering plants. Guzman was a communications studies major at the Florida State University.