The PMBOK uses the term 'Supporting Experts' in the list of project team roles, defined as

Supporting experts perform activities required to develop or execute the PM plan. ... such as contracting, financial management, logistics, legal, safety, engineering, test, or quality control ... may be assigned to work full time or may just participate on the team when their particular skills are required.

I don't tend to want to get caught up in definitions or wordsmithing, but 'stakeholder' and 'project staff' or even 'user' are just very clear, broadly used terms that help keep a conversation nice and pithy and keep everyone on the same page with the same vocabulary.

But I find I lack a term for someone on the ground floor that gets brought in occasionally for interviews, to bounce questions off of, or clarify some nuance. As in "John who works in that department and knows the product in and out, but isn't formally on the team, but he is our go-to when making sure we understand something about the customer/product/market."

'Oracle' works behind closed doors, but I want something I can put into an email. "Person familiar with the production" is too hard to say in conversation.

Is 'supporting expert' appropriate for the role/work I've described? Or is there perhaps a better term?

  • 2
    "Subject Matter Expert" or SME (pronounced smeeee) is used widely in the US government.
    – MCW
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 11:00
  • Also used widely throughout UK businesses.
    – Iain9688
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 22:33

2 Answers 2


Subject Matter Expert (SME) is the term I hear and use most commonly. Vicki's Domain Expert I also here, usually a Domain Expert is a bit more focused than an SME.

Architects are for very specific engineering functions.

Extended Core Team is a more general term that refers to any of the organizations that are not part of the day to day development of the project but need to stay informed and may have specialized roles. For example, Release Engineering is not needed until closer to launch however having them in reviews before hand means they can provide input and raise things they need before it's too late.

  • I appreciate the additional term explanations!
    – getglad
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 12:47

"Domain expert" is the phrase usually used in my circles.

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