Subject Matter Experts - the Difference Between Functional and Successful

This is the next part of our series about how we work with our clients. The first part can be found here: Why We Write User Stories

Part of what makes this gig so fulfilling for us is the opportunity to work with so many smart people in diverse industries. Every project teaches us something new, not just about our own field, but about a variety of other fields as well.

We pride ourselves on the wide range of experience our team brings to the table, and we’re always looking to add skills. No project team is complete without someone who possesses a deep and nuanced understanding of the topic at hand–also known as a subject matter expert.

Collaboration is central to how we work, and approaching every project with collaboration in mind opens up so many avenues for knowledge sharing. And while we’re the experts in software design and development, our clients are the experts in their fields.

Subject matter experts are important regardless of discipline. Technical expertise alone cannot solve the real human problems our clients are tackling.

Working closely with subject matter experts allows us to extract key information to inform the specifics of a digital project. It's the necessary link between our skillset and the organizational know-how

Collaboration is non-negotiable

There is sometimes this idea that you’ll hire an agency to build your software, go about your business, then come back to us a few months later to pick up your fully-formed application. In our experience that’s just not how the best work gets made.

The best projects are the result of mutual respect for the skills and experience we all bring together, and a desire to bridge that gap between subject matter expertise and technical expertise.

For example, Railtown Catering came to us early in the pandemic looking to pivot to almost entirely online sales. To accommodate their wide range of products and their signature build-your-own holiday packages, we built an incredibly flexible and robust custom ordering system that allowed customers to create their own unique meals.

The system included everything from creating a custom pastry platter for a corporate breakfast, building out a lunch menu for an event with a variety of dietary restrictions, and hosting Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings for 12 of your closest friends.

Everything needed to be clearly labeled according to dietary needs, availability, delivery and quantity. Every step needed to be clear and intuitive to ensure every customer got from first course to final checkout without any hiccups.

The custom Railtown Catering Menu, built with in house subject matter experts, to allow for precision content management authoring on the applications back-end system.

No one knows Railtown customers better than Railtown staff, so who better to advise us on everything that needs to be included to ensure customers get everything they’re looking for?

A variety of Railtown staff were involved in planning the information architecture. They educated us on their products and processes, and tested the ordering systems we built for them every step of the way. As a result, Railtown Homestyle has been a huge success, not just carrying the company through the upheaval of the pandemic, but also creating a strong and reliable income stream going forward.

The "Featured Venues" page, including all of the contact and location details of venues to host a catering event. By working with subject matter experts we were able to get the right data structures to accomplish the cross promotional goals.

Testing, Testing

Testing is a pretty unsexy part of the job, but it’s an indispensable part of the process. Your credibility is instantly undermined if you launch a new website or piece of software and the first email you get isn’t a message of congratulations, but a note about a bug (no matter how small the bug, somebody somewhere will spot it immediately). We do our best to catch everything, but the same way it’s almost impossible to proofread your own writing, it’s tough to catch everything.

This is where clients’ knowledge of their industries and the people in them are invaluable.

SnoFolio, a snowsport training technology company based in both Vancouver and Salt Lake City, is a prime example of leveraging the experience of your team and the strength of your community to build the best product possible.

A multi platform snow sports application, SnoFolio was setup to connect instructors with video analysis and allow them to review their results, and video analysis, soon after the lesson completed.

Because of their strong network of resorts and instructors, along with their own history on the slopes, the team at SnoFolio helped us create an efficient testing pipeline to get the product into the hands of the people for whom it was made and get their feedback back to the developers who could make changes quickly and get the updated product back to the users. Without their expertise it wouldn’t have been possible.

Whether it’s a marketing website, a custom content management system or purpose-built mobile application, the majority of our clients are speaking to an established audience, one built on relationships they’ve developed over time, in some cases years. Who better to test the system than the people it’s meant for?

Designing and building top-notch software is just problem-solving, and problem-solving is by nature a collaborative process. If you’re looking to collaborate with an agency that values your subject matter expertise and brings our own to the party, give us a call.

Send us a message and let's get the conversation going!