When choosing a subject matter expert, you should first consider his or her professional achievements and credentials and establish whether he or she is actually an expert. You should then find out whether the subject matter expert has experience working in projects similar to those for which you need to hire a consultant. Finally, you should determine whether his or her services are affordable and whether he or she is capable of meeting deadlines and will be available for timely consultation on your project or projects.
Many companies that develop educational courses or publish training materials rely on third-party contractors for writing these materials, reviewing materials, or providing suggestions for new product ideas. These contractors are known as subject matter experts and are typically people with a high degree of experience, education, and authority in their field. As publishers may not have significant or specialized knowledge in the subjects covered by the courses or textbooks, they may rely heavily on the knowledge of a subject matter expert.
Carefully evaluate the resume or curriculum vitae supplied by a subject matter expert. His or her educational achievements should be consistent with those of other recognized authorities in a field or industry. For example, if a person in a particular profession is expected to hold a master's degree in order to practice and supervise others, the subject matter expert should likewise hold at least a master's degree. All educational credentials should also be verified for legitimacy.
The subject matter expert's professional experience should be reviewed and verified as well. Ideally, an expert has significant real-world experience in the fields for which he or she consults. Look for both length and breadth of experience. The subject matter expert should have a long work history in which he or she consistently advanced within his or her profession and took on new responsibilities. Talk to previous employers, colleagues, and clients about the consultant's work ethic, quality of work, and ability to complete projects on time.
Other considerations include achieving recognition and respect within his or her industry. Awards from an employer or, better yet, an industry association can be a good indicator of a candidate's competency. Find out whether he or she has teaching experience or has been asked to speak at events. Review his or her publication record. A history of publication in industry magazines or peer-reviewed journals is typically a strong indication of a person's competency and expertise.