An organization can use its internal resources to implement new projects even if its internal resources are not subject matter experts (or SMEs). Here’s how: have your staff work alongside SMEs to learn how to implement projects in one or more pilot sites. By working alongside SMEs, staff is exposed to detailed implementation procedures which procedures they can apply to other sites as implementation progresses. This sounds simple and it is, but there are a few considerations for using this approach.
- Ensure that staff working with SMEs have the delegated authority and responsibility for this aspect of the program when implementation is completed. For instance, it would not make economic or strategic sense to assign one staff to work with the SME and then assign a different staff member to manage the program after implementation if the assigned staff has no expertise in the program area (and if they do have expertise, then they should have been assigned to work with the SME in the first place!).
- Staff working with SMEs must be given the necessary to work on the project. This means that work normally done by staff will need to be covered off by other staff. Those working with SMEs need to feel confident and not pressured that they are expected to perform dual roles during the project.
- Fair compensation must be paid to staff working with SMEs. This may require a review and revision of existing job descriptions.
- Selected staff must not be “voluntold” to work on the project. It is much better to recruit staff that are interested and possess some skill in the program that is being implemented. If staff is interested in the program, they will be amenable to learning new skills that will carry forward to program maintenance after the project is completed.
- Don’t assume that once the pilot project is completed that staff who worked alongside the SME are now experts in the subject matter if they
weren’t experts to begin with. They will still need support and guidance from the SME and the organization as they continue to learn how to manage the program.
During implementation, issues will arise that will require input from not only the project manager and project team members, but from staff within areas where implementation is occurring. By being involved early on, staff gradually learn about the program and will be more comfortable and knowledgeable about its application when the project is complete. It makes long-term strategic and economic sense to involve staff during implementation of projects even if they are not experts in the subject matter.