SME research

Today I spent some time working with Matt our CPO, hearing his story of going through a merger at a previous company. This is the second time this week that I’ve been in a session like this. It’s so useful. Andrea and I have mapped out journeys of three personas so far after listening to them talk about their journeys. I already feel like I’ve learned so much about the process.

It’s the same kind of session we ran with customers too. The reason for talking to SME (subject matter expert)s in the office is to get a deeper level of knowledge in the domain area. Then we can organise longer meetings with customers and feel confident about asking the right questions and expand the knowledge we already have.

How does it work?

It’s a simple session to run. We ask the person sharing their experience with us to talk through it. Often they talk a lot which is perfect. The more information the better. It’s useful to record the session and take notes. Even mapping out the session as you go with post-its is useful.


  • Organise a quiet space where the session can be recorded
  • Take sharpies, post-its and a large sheet of paper to map as you go
  • Get them to start at the very beginning What triggers the process? 
  • Try to keep them on track with the story—are we skipping steps or milestones?
  • Ask questions to dig deeper where necessary
  • At the end go through the journey you’ve mapped out and see if they add anything
  • After the session synthesis it as soon as possible while it’s still fresh* Follow up with more questions if necessary