Supporting Internal SMEs

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    Ryan Dawkins

    We ask a lot of our internal subject matter experts during an integration (detailed analysis, testing, process reconciliation), and those resources continue to be needed heavily by legacy teams conducting regular business as usual. What have people tried to mitigate the short-term capacity constraints leading up to and during an integration?


    Identifying the tasks or responsibilities that the SMEs can pass off to lower-level employees is helpful so that they can prioritize the work that only they can do. You want your SMEs working on the top of their skill set. In one company I worked for, they brought in temp resources to do the day-to-day tasks so the SMEs could make time for integration work.

    Adrienne Heiskanen

    I would agree with K Sheehan’s advice on delegation of lower-level tasks and responsibilities. You can have dedicated project management professionals to assist the SMEs.

    Lisa Fawns

    I would also agree with K Sheehan’s advice and add that before you select SMEs to do the work confirm that you actually need an internal SME and what the trade-off is to pulling them from their current role. Too often we default to this valuable resource; however, if for example the sales organization has some very aggressive targets that were instrumental to the decision to acquire the target company pulling a Sales SME from his/her role to work the integration may impact the success of the sales team and capture of the overall benefits.

    As Adrienne Heiskanen stated, there are internal resources available that may not have the full scope of experience but enough experience in integration and trust in the organization that they can support the team. Or external SME resources are available in all areas of M&A that can step in and provide support even as the integration lead.

    Randy Woods

    In my experience, there is no easy answer to this question. The involvement of subject matter experts during due diligence and integration is critical, both to vet the potential acquisition and to begin building the level of trust required to deliver on the potential of the acquisition. Unfortunately, these demands also mean that the SME needs to be senior, with a perspective both of THEIR subject and on the broader business dynamics driving the organization. Administrative tasks can be delegated, but those involving judgment, or team building, simply cannot be handed to more junior personnel.

    In our case, this back pressure on the “legacy” work of SMEs required our C-level (and indeed board) to accept that an aggressive acquisition program was going to impact organic growth rate. This was a difficult conversation – and it needs to be refought repeatedly. But the downside of NOT having your best people participate in a acquisition is so large that I think the battle is justified

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