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, human resources, marketing (and public relations), finance, engineering, science 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 organization 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.
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Consultant 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.
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.
There is no single qualification to be a consultant other than those laid down in relation to medical & engineering personnel who have attained this level-degree in it.
Internationally the accreditation of Management Consultants is overseen by higher education training and accreditation organizations.
The International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) was founded in 1987 and has around 50 member institutes covering the globe. The award of Certified Management Consultant (CMC) status is its internationally recognized accreditation (in some countries like the US, conforms to ISO/IEC 17024:2003 standards) 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. There are about 10,000 CMCs worldwide.
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.
International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) is a Federation whose members are national associations of Consulting Engineers.
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- "Consultant | Define Consultant at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. 2004-03-09. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
- Pieter P. Tordoir (1995). The professional knowledge economy: the management and integration services in business organizations. p.140.