Monday 26 July 2010

What is a Consultant?

What indeed is a Consultant?

The dictionary definition or rather the Wikpedia definition states:

A consultant (from the Latin consultare means "to discuss" from which we also derive words such as consul and counsel) is a professional who provides advice in a particular area of expertise such as management, accountancy, the environment, entertainment, technology, law (tax law, in particular), human resources, marketing, emergency management, food production, medicine, finance, life management, economics, public affairs, communication, engineering, sound system design, graphic design, or waste management.

A consultant is usually an expert or a professional in a specific field and has a wide knowledge of the subject matter. A consultant usually works for a consultancy firm or is self-employed, and engages with multiple and changing clients. Thus, 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.

So, what does a consultant do?, seems to me that if an organisation has a specific brief, say "what is the most suitable type of equipment for a task, then the consultant will be able to say "ah, that'll be equipment x, and for the following reasons" he wouldn't be much of a consultant if he dithers about and says "well, ah, theres two or three options that will perform the task, but I really cant say which one is the best"

Because, in my opinion, he should already know what is the best, or he should upon receipt of his brief, go out and conduct research and if neccessary test each appliance or application to detemine if it is the best.
Perhaps, he should come up with a report detailing what elements of each product overlap and if they have a unique selling point or feature that rises them above the also-rans.

In short, the consultant does the work that you have paid him to do.

Providing options for equipment/services etc to potential clients is tantamount to saying "well I'm not much good as this consultancy lark, but I've done a bit of research and come up with these three or four products, heres the pricing, now you decide"

Which is precisely what the client has paid you for, so why should he pay you, he's still got to make a decision, all you've done is narrow down his search.

I wouldn't pay for this low level service model.

When we specify a product or service, its because we have done the hard work, we've conducted the research, we've looked at the features and we've made the decision.

Trust is the one key attribute that is essential for a consultant, and what it boils down to is "do you trust your consultant to provide you with the best possible result for the brief you have set them?"

If so, great buy the product.
If not, maybe you need to get a new consultant or change your original brief

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