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In the world of consulting, a distinction is often overlooked: the difference between the industry at large and the profession of management consulting. This distinction is crucial, as it separates those who simply sell hours for dollars from those committed to a higher standard of service, ethics, and accountability. In this article, we explore this distinction, the role of ISO 20700 as a gateway to the profession, and how it paves the way towards certification as a Certified Management Consultant (CMC).

Understanding the Consulting Industry

The consulting industry is broad and diverse, encompassing a wide range of services, expertise, and methodologies. Its primary model is transactional, often described as “selling hours for dollars.” This approach is straightforward – consultants provide services in exchange for compensation, typically calculated by the hour or project. The industry is vast, including freelancers, independent consultants, and employees of consulting firms, offering services across various sectors such as IT, marketing, finance, and more.

While this model has its merits, including flexibility and a wide array of services, it lacks a unified set of standards or ethical guidelines. The industry is not regulated, meaning anyone with enough knowledge or expertise in a particular field can offer consulting services. This openness contributes to the industry’s richness and diversity but also leads to variability in the quality and reliability of services offered.

Understanding the Management Consulting Profession

In contrast to the broader consulting industry, the profession of management consulting is defined by a commitment to excellence, ethical practice, and accountability. This profession is characterized by membership in professional Institutes, adherence to a code of professional conduct and ethics, and an accountability to peers to deliver outstanding services.

Professional management consultants are part of a community that values continuous learning, ethical service delivery, and a commitment to client success beyond mere financial transactions. These professionals are often members of Institutes, organized globally through the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI), which provides the global standard for the Certified Management Consultant.

ISO 20700: The Gateway to Professionalism

ISO 20700 plays a pivotal role in this landscape. It acts as the baseline standard for management consulting services and distinguishes the professional consultants from the broader industry. This standard provides guidelines for effective management consulting, focusing on client needs, ethical practices, and delivering value.

ISO 20700 training represents a critical foundational step in the journey toward professional management consulting. This comprehensive training is crafted to equip consultants with a deep understanding of the core elements that underpin the global standards of the profession. Specifically, the training focuses on the effective delivery of consultancy services, establishment of transparent and ethical client relationships, and a structured approach to consulting projects. This understanding is crucial in setting the baseline standard for management consulting, ensuring that practitioners can deliver services that align with the internationally established baseline.

ISO 20700 training marks a pivotal step in professionalizing your management consulting practice, intricately designed to equip consultants with a tool to manage communications and transparency with the client. These are organized into three fundamental components that form the backbone of professional management consulting: initiating (contracting), executing, and closing of consulting projects. Each component plays a vital role in setting the baseline standard for the profession.

The initiating phase, or contracting, focuses on the foundations of a consulting project. This phase is critical in building transparent and ethical client relationships, ensuring that both consultant and client have a mutual understanding and agreement on the project’s terms and desired outcomes.

The executing phase delves into the methodologies and strategies for successful project management. It provides a guideline for discussions that will maintain open channels of communication, ensuring that the project stays on track and meets the established goals.

Finally, the closing phase of the training emphasizes the importance of properly concluding a consulting project. This includes transparency around how outcomes will be evaluated, ensuring all objectives have been met, and the nature of the closing. This phase fosters a mindset of continuous improvement and learning from each engagement.

Upon completion of ISO 20700 training, consultants are acknowledged as practitioners who are equipped to leverage open communication with the client around these three essential phases of management consulting. This recognition goes beyond the acquisition of a certificate; it symbolizes the consultant’s dedication to fostering a culture of excellence and continuous improvement within their practice. This acknowledgment is a testament to their readiness to provide top-tier consulting services, guided by the principles and practices set forth by ISO 20700.

The Path to Certified Management Consultant (CMC)

The journey towards professional management consulting does not end with ISO 20700. The next significant milestone is achieving the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation. This certification is a mark of distinction, signifying a consultant’s expertise, experience, and adherence to the highest standards of the profession.

The CMC designation is awarded to consultants who meet rigorous criteria, including proven experience, successful client engagements, and a commitment to ongoing professional development. CMC holders are seen as leaders in the field, trusted advisors who not only possess in-depth knowledge and skills but also practice with integrity and professionalism.

The Impact of Professionalization

The transition from the broader consulting industry to the profession of management consulting has significant implications. For consultants, it means a commitment to continuous learning, ethical practice, and delivering value beyond the transactional level. It elevates their work from a service to a profession, marked by a dedication to excellence and accountability.

For clients, working with professional management consultants provides assurance of quality and reliability. They can trust that a consultant adhering to ISO 20700 standards or holding a CMC designation will deliver services that meet global benchmarks. This trust is invaluable, leading to more robust and successful client-consultant relationships.


The difference between the consulting industry and the profession of management consulting is significant. It is about more than the services offered; it is about the values, standards, and commitment that underpin those services. ISO 20700 serves as a crucial first step for consultants on their journey to professionalism, setting the foundation for further development and recognition, such as the CMC designation.

In a world where the quality and ethics of consulting services are more important than ever, the path towards professional management consulting offers a way to stand out and make a real impact. It is a journey that requires dedication and hard work, but the rewards – in terms of personal growth, client satisfaction, and professional recognition – are immeasurable. For those aspiring to be at the top of their field,