Consultant – A defenition, and a bit more

My first post under this subject should have been this one but it was not so, I’m posting the definition of Consultant now. I believe it is important you understand this definition so that you can better understand the content of my posts on consultancy.

A consultant (from Latin: consultare “to discuss”) is a professional who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area such as security (electronic or physical), management, accountancy, law (tax law, in particular), human resources, marketing (and public relations), finance, engineering, or any of many other specialized fields.

A consultant is usually an expert or a professional in a specific field and has a wide knowledge of the subject matter. The role of consultant outside the medical sphere (where the term is used specifically for a grade of doctor) can fall under one of two general categories:

■ Internal Consultant – someone who operates within an organisation but is available to be consulted on areas of specialism by other departments or individuals (acting as clients); or
■ External Consultant – someone who is employed externally (either by a firm or some other agency) whose expertise is provided on a temporary basis, usually for a fee. As such this type of consultant generally engages with multiple and changing clients.

The overall impact of a consultant is that clients have access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house, and may purchase only as much service from the outside consultant as desired.

‘Consultant’ is also the term used to denote the most senior medical position in the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland (e.g., a consultant surgeon).

Qualifications

There is no such thing as a single qualification to be a consultant other than those laid down in relation to medical personnel who have attained this level.

Internationally the accreditation of Management Consultants is overseen by higher education training and accreditation organizations —

Consulting guru, Peter Block, defines a consultant as “someone who has influence over an individual, group, or organization, but who has no direct authority to implement changes.” He contrasts this with a surrogate manager who is a person who “acts on behalf of, or in place of, a manager.” The key difference is that a consultant never makes decisions for the individual or group, whereas a surrogate manager does make decisions.

The Institute for Independent Business (IIB) with — globally, July, 2012 — 5,889 mature executives, stringently accredited as Associates since the IIB was established in 1984 as the Institute for Independent British Business (http://www.iib.ws) The IIB’s twelve month pe-accreditation Consultancy Business Development Diploma — CBDDip.— is now awarded by the International Independent Business University (http://www.iibu.org) as a pre-requisite for its unique MBA (Consultancy) — NB, that’s Master of Business Arts, not Administration. And the prestigious Oxford Brookes University even recognizes the CBDDip as 20 of 80 credits in its MBA (Global)!!

Institute accredited Associates are bound by a Code of Ethics that requires the consultant to only provide “practical advice that works” — by “Analysing as a Generalist and Solving as a Specialist” — using the skills and experience of a sub-contracted fellow Associate, thus at all times providing the client with the best available advice and support.

Life as a Consultant
Life as a Consultant (Photo credit: Ikhlasul Amal)

The International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) has around 50 member institutes covering the globe. The award of Certified Management Consultant (CMC) status is its internationally recognised accreditation that is not specific to the technical content of the consultant’s practice. For instance this could be held equally by a Human Resources (HR) expert or a Chemical Engineer operating as management consultants in their field(s) of expertise.

Chartered Institute of Management Consultants (CIMC) is a not-for-profit professional body chartered federally under Letters Patent granted by the Government of Canada. CIMC is also chartered under the Laws of the State of Delaware, USA. CIMC is also registered with the National Certification Commission, USA. The CIMC award Chartered Management Consultant Ch.MC designation as a global management credential.

Common types

In the business, and as of recently the private sphere, the most commonly found consultants are:

  • Strategy Consultants working on the development of and improvements to organisational strategy alongside Senior Management in many industries.
  • Human Resources or HR Consultants who provide expertise around employment practice and people management.
  • Internet Consultants who are specialists in business use of the internet and keep them self up to date with new and changed capabilities offered by the web. Ideally internet consultants also have practical experience and expertise in management skills such as strategic planning, change, projects, processes, training, team-working and customer satisfaction.
  • Process Consultants who are specialists in the design or improvement of operational processes and can be specific to the industry or sector.
  • Public Relations or PR Consultants dealing specifically with Public Relations matters external to the client organisation and often engaged on a semi-permanent basis by larger organisations to provide input and guidance.
  • Performance Consultants who focus on the execution of an intuitive or overall performance of their client.
  • Information Technology Consultants in many disciplines such as Computer Hardware, Software Engineering or Networks.
  • Marketing Consultants who are generally called upon to advise around areas of product development and related marketing matters.
  • Interim Managers as mentioned above may be independent consultants who act as interim executives with decision-making power under corporate policies or statutes. They may sit on specially constituted boards or committees.
  • Pay per question consultants The professions vary greatly from appliance repair consultants to medical specialty consultants. Clients post a question to a website that provides a venue for consultants, that are verified as an expert in their profession or trade, and customers to interact in a Q&A session. A value is chosen, and a deposit made by the customer to have their question answered by an expert in a specific trade or profession. The expert provides the information to the customer, and is then paid a percentage of the deposited amount. The website retains the remainder of the fee for use of the venue. Although still a new method of getting information from professionals on a one to one basis it is growing in popularity. For an average fee of $30.00 people can ask specific questions to professionals such as Lawyers, Doctors, Mechanics, Electricians, Veterinarians, Appliance Servicemen, Teachers, Engineers, and almost any type of trade or profession there is.

References

  1. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/consultant
  2. Pieter P. Tordoir (1995). The professional knowledge economy: the management and integration services in business organizations. p.140.
  3. http://www.icmci.org/
  4. Consultant. (2012, November 12).  In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:10, November 12, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Consultant&oldid=522605872
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