SMEs….is a truly odd sounding acronym that means Subject Matter Experts. They talk about it extensively in their article, and this I have no problem with. I do want to make three points related to that:
- A SME is not a substitution for validation.
- In some respects, the QJM (Quantified Judgment Model) is a quantified and validated SME.
- How do you know that the SME is right?
If you can substitute a SME for a proper validation effort, then perhaps you could just substitute the SME for the model. This would save time and money. If your SME is knowledgable enough to sprinkle holy water on the model and bless its results, why not just skip the model and ask the SME. We could certainly simplify and speed up analysis by removing the models and just asking our favorite SME. The weaknesses of this approach are obvious.
Then there is Trevor N. Dupuy’s Quantified Judgment Model (QJM) and Quantified Judgment Method of Analysis (QJMA). This is, in some respects, a SME quantified. Actually it was a board of SMEs, who working with a series of historical studies (the list of studies starts here: http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/tdipubs.htm ). These SMEs developed a set of values for different situations, and then insert them into a model. They then validated the model to historical data (also known as real-world combat data). While the QJM has come under considerable criticism from elements of the Operations Research community…..if you are using SMEs, then in fact, you are using something akin, but less rigorous, than Trevor Dupuy’s Quantified Judgment Method of Analysis.
This last point, how do we know that the SME is right, is significant. How do you test your SMEs to ensure that what they are saying is correct? Another SME, a board of SMEs? Maybe a BOGSAT? Can you validate SMEs? There are limits to SME’s. In the end, you need a validated model.