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.
The range of areas of expertise covered by the term consultant is extremely wide. One of the more general attributions is as a Management Consultant but this is not an exclusive term. Consulting and the means by which the (external) consultant is engaged vary according to industry and local practice. However the principal difference between aconsultant and a temp is generally one of direction. A consultant is engaged to fulfill a brief in terms of helping to find solutions to specific issues but the ways in which that is to be done generally falls to the consultant to decide, within constraints such as budget and resources agreed with the client. (A temp on the other hand is normally fulfilling a role that usually exists within the organization and is helping to bridge a gap caused by staffing shortages for whatever reason. They fall under the direction of the normal management structure of the organization.)
There is however a hybrid form where a consultant may be hired as an Interim Manager or Executive, bringing a combination of specialist expertise to bear on a role that is temporarily vacant (usually at a senior level).
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