More technical writers work with SMEs who began falling into this category than earlier. The dynamics of project management coupled with customer requests in the last minute for additional changes provide little room for the SMEs to consider helping the technical writers. The task of helping the documentation team is last on their priority lists. Hence, most often, they ignore this task unless you remind them about it. However, if you tend to frequently bombard them with requests, they might consider you as a disturbance and try to avoid interaction with you.
How to deal with them?
To deal with this kind of experts and gather information from them:
- Do adequate amount of homework before approaching them. If you approach this type of SME with a list of questions, you might get some answers. However, if you come up with some questions backed up with some answers that you have guessed (after considerable amount of research), you will get all the information that you need.
- Appreciate their time constraints. To do this, try to build a rapport with them – you can catch them over lunch or a quick coffee break and let them know your progress.
- Even though you do not need to overdo, it helps to thank them regularly for the little information that they pass on to you.
- Acknowledge their help regularly in team and cross-functional meetings.
- If you receive information from any other source, let them be aware of it. This will avoid repetition of work and give them some time to carry on with their tasks.
- If none of these techniques work, talk to the expert’s supervisor in a non-complaining manner and seek help – requesting either an adjustment in the work load of the expert, or requesting an alternative expert who can provide the required information.