At the very beginning it’s mandatory to agree about a common language. Consulting has its own too and anyone would argue about naming to identify roles.
I would propose then a vocabulary. Of course this is a discussion promoting blog. Feel free to support me setting this up.
Consultant: from wikipedia, “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. […omissis] A consultant usually works for a consultancy firm or is self-employed, and engages with multiple and changing client.
I think this clearly defines the role.
Nevertheless, I usually hear about misleading or totally wrong definitions, that varies from a sarcastic slave to the exagerate man I couldn’t leave without.
Other terms wrongly used (IMHO):
Contractor: organization or individual that contracts with another organization or individual (the owner) in order to realize a product.
I think this could be used as a partial definition of self-emplyed consultants who works on production. This is very limiting definition to me that identifies just an aspect from a legal perspective.
Time& material consultant: To me, this is usurpation of consultant term. This is a fake and a way to discredit thus invalidate the role of a consultant. What is time&material? It’s a way to rename Body Rental. What is body rental? It’s temporary assignment or resources from one company to another. To me this has very little or nothing to do with consulting. Well, they say “Consultants work on projects”
Project: (source PMbok) temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.
Here it comes! The fact that projects are temporary offered the excuse for the misleading “time&material” confusion.
They intentionally did that. But you won’t 😉