Glossary of Terms

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5,000 Mile View

A phrase used to describe a high-level, summary view of the situation. 5,000 can be replaced by any large number to indicate the same thing.

80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule (or the Pareto Principle) was suggested by management consultant Joseph Juran, who named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. In business, it is a common used rule of thumb based on the observation that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Action Planning Stage

This phase of a consulting assignment includes developing possible solutions to the problem diagnosed, choosing among alternative solutions, presenting proposals to the client, and preparing for implementation. #Deliverable #ConsultingProcess

Action Research

Research initiated to solve an immediate problem, or a reflective process of progressive problem solving, led by individuals working with others in teams or as part of a "community of practice" to improve the way they address issues and solve problems.


The Order of Chartered Administrators of Quebec (College of ADMA) is a group of managers from all backgrounds. Members are distinguished in various fields of management, ethics, and corporate governance. They affect a multitude of areas of professional activity.


The Association of Management Consulting Firms (AMCF) is the premier international association of firms engaged in the practice of management consulting. Founded in 1929 as AMCE, the Association of Management Consulting Engineers, AMCF today remains in the forefront .


Any Other Business: Term generally used in developing a meeting agenda. Denotes time scheduled to discuss miscellaneous topics in a meeting.


Business to Business: Referring to a company’s primary audience for sales and marketing.


Business to Consumer: Referring to a company’s primary audience for sales and marketing.


Capacity, free time, ability to do (additional) work; generally used to indicate that speaker cannot or would not prefer to do additional work, as in: “I don’t think I’ll have any bandwidth this Friday.”

Big 3

Also known as MBB, often refers to the top firms in an industry or sector. In management consulting, McKinsey and Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain and Company have stood out from other competitors and have consolidated as the top-tier of management consulting.

Big 4 (Canada)

Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers are the largest international professional services networks audit, assurance, tax, consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance, and legal services.

Big Data

An all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process them using traditional data processing applications.

Bird's Eye View

A high level view.

Blue Ocean Strategy

An approach to strategy that seeks out "blue oceans" of uncontested market space.

Boil the Ocean

As the name states, clearly an impossible task. Generally, a project manager or partner will say “Let’s not boil the ocean” as a pretext for suggesting a ton of analyses that in effect, often ends up boiling a very large lake, if not exactly the ocean .


Agreement, support.

CAC Designation

By earning the Certified Agricultural Consultant (CAC) designation you can enhance your knowledge and career opportunities. CAC certification is rapidly becoming recognized as the national standard of professionalism in agricultural consulting. A CAC's knowledge.


Compound Annual Growth Rate: If you don’t know it, you won’t get very far.

Campus Hire

A consultant hired directly from undergraduate or business schools, as opposed to “experienced hire.”


Your available time and energy to take on additional tasks.


The Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) for the profession in Canada includes this introduction to the practice of management consulting, the documentation of required knowledge in each of the six functional areas of management (Strategic Management, Financial Management.

Change management

Change management is an approach to transitioning individuals , teams , and organizations to a desired future state. In a project management context, change management may refer to a project management process wherein changes to the scope of a project.

Charge Code

A unique internal code assigned to each project/assignment to which you charge work-related expenses.


The Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation is a nationally recognized level of achievement within the field of human resources. It reflects a conviction that the professional practice of human resources management can safeguard the interests of employers.

Circle Back

To follow up with indicated individuals at a later point in time, usually to review progress on the current topic of discussion; this phrase is somewhat redundant, as it is impossible to trace a circle that does not connect back with itself.

CMC Designation

The Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation is the profession's only international certification mark, recognized in more than 40 countries. It represents a commitment to the highest standards of consulting and adherence to the ethical canons of the profession.


The Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Alberta ("CMC-Alberta") is regulated by the Certified Management Consultants Regulation, under the Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act. CMCs and FCMCs have been privileged to be members of a ...

CMC-Atlantic Canada Institute (ICMCAC)

The Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Atlantic Canada (ICMCAC or CMC-Atlantic Canada) was formed by Chapter 61 of the Acts of 1985, the Certified Management Consultants Act, subsequently changed on April 29, 1986 to an Act Respecting the Institute of Management ...

CMC-British Columbia

CMC-British Columbia is a provincial Institute of CMC-Canada (the Canadian Association of Management Consultants), which fosters excellence and integrity in the management consulting profession as a whole. CMC-Canada administers, and its provincial Institutes confer, ...


CMC-Global Institute (CMC-GI) is affiliated to the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI). ICMCI was founded in 1987 “to promote a closer working relationship between all management consulting institutes or organizations primarily dedicated ...


The Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Manitoba (ICMCM or CMC-Manitoba) fosters excellence and integrity in the management consulting profession. Under The Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Manitoba Act (CCSM c C47), the Institute confers ...


CMC-Ontario is a provincial Institute of CMC-Canada (the Canadian Association of Management Consultants), which fosters excellence and integrity in the management consulting profession as a whole. CMC-Canada administers, and its provincial Institutes confer, the CMC ...


CMC-Quebec is a provincial Institute of CMC-Canada (the Canadian Association of Management Consultants), which fosters excellence and integrity in the management consulting profession as a whole. CMC-Canada administers, and its provincial Institutes confer, the CMC designation ...


CMC-Saskatchewan is a provincial Institute of CMC-Canada (the Canadian Association of Management Consultants), which fosters excellence and integrity in the management consulting profession as a whole. CMC-Canada administers, and its provincial Institutes confer, the ...

Conflict of Interest

A situation occurring when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation.


Consulting is providing opinion, advice, counsel, and to deliberate together.

Contingency Fee

A fee for services (common in legal profession) paid upon successful completion of services and usually calculated as a percentage of the gain realized for the client.

Core Client

A client with whom the firm has a long-standing relationship, and usually there is continual dialogue between senior executives, even if there are no ongoing projects.

CPA Designation

The Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation emerged from the belief that Canada needs a single, unified accounting profession. All 40 of the accounting bodies in Canada have now either unified or are participating in discussions to unite under the CPA banner. ...

CPD Program

The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program was established to provide a reporting process that ensures CMCs are maintaining their professional capabilities in line with the Association's Uniform Code of Professional Conduct. The goal of the program is to ...


An adjective indicating that the referenced work or analysis is thorough and complete.


Customer relationship management (CRM) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It often involves using technology to organize, automate and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.

Data Analysis

Analysis of data is a process of inspecting, cleaning, transforming, and modelling data with the goal of discovering useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision-making.

Deck (PPT)

Your Powerpoint slides, sometimes referring to the master “deck” for the team.

Deep Dive

Similar to “double click,” this means a thorough in-depth exploration of a particular topic.


Anything that is owed by you to your manager/team, or owed by the team to its client.


Diagnosis is Identification of a condition, disease, disorder, or problem by systematic analysis of the background or history, examination of the signs or symptoms, evaluation of the research or test results, and investigation of the assumed or probable causes. Effective ...

Diagnosis Stage

The purpose of diagnosis is to examine the problem faced and the purposed purposes pursued by the client in detail and in depth, identify the factors and forces that are causing and influencing the problem, and prepare all information needed for deciding how to orient ...


Define/Measure/Analyze/Design/Verify: DMADV is a process defined by Motorola as part of their Six Sigma management philosophy. DMADV is applied to new processes to make sure that they achieve Six Sigma quality. Six Sigma sets extremely ambitious goals to minimize the ...


Define/Measure/Analyze/Improve/Control: DMAIC refers to a data-driven improvement cycle used for improving, optimizing, and stabilizing business processes and designs. The DMAIC improvement cycle is the core tool used to drive Six Sigma projects. However, DMAIC is not ...

Due Diligence

The comprehensive study/survey of a business or business model, with the aim of setting clear expectations, risks, dependencies, etc. as part of a business proposal.


Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization


The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank for the euro and administers monetary policy of the Eurozone, which consists of 19 EU member states and is one of the largest currency areas in the world.

Elevator Test

A test of one’s ability to explain concepts in a short-period of time (typically 60 seconds or less). The elevator test represents a hypothetical situation where you are sharing the elevator with a VIP and need to give them a quick summary/presentation during the ride. ...


Dynamic and interactive, the Essentials of Management Consulting (EMC) course is valuable to management consultants wanting to deliver superior value to their clients, to anyone who is considering becoming a management consultant, and to any member who is pursuing the ...


The consulting project or case.

Entry Stage

Entry is the initial phase in any consulting process and assignment. During entry, the consultant and the client get together, try to learn as much as possible about each other, discuss and define the reason for which the consultant has been brought in, and on this basis ...


An Expression of Interest (EOI) is an informal offer made by a strategic or financial buyer for the purchase of a business. The primary purpose is to suggest a valuation range that a buyer is willing to pay for a company.


The branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions, and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.

Experienced Hire

A consultant hired from another company, typically with a higher starting position and salary than 1st year consultants. See also “parallel hire.”

Extension Services

Extension services are similarly a common feature of the administrative structure of rural areas and these services have the responsibility, in partnership with the farmers, of directing programs and projects for change.

Fact Pack

Typically a 'pack' of information that provides the essential facts concerning a specific project, company, or industry.

Gantt Chart

A type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule with start and finish dates, deliverables, etc.


Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis.


A detailed level of abstraction, often used in the context of increasing the 'fineness' of an analysis, as in "We need to get more granular here.

Hard Stop

Used to indicate that after the time indicated, the listeners are on their own, because the person stating that they have a hard stop sure isn’t going to be around to help after then.


Human Resources is the set of individuals who make up the workforce of an organization, business sector, or economy. "Human capital" is sometimes used synonymously with human resources, although human capital typically refers to a more narrow view (i.e., the knowledge ...

HR Management

Human Resources management (HRM, or simply HR) is a function in organizations designed to maximize employee performance in service of their employer's strategic objectives. HR is primarily concerned with how people are managed within organizations, focusing on policies ...


International Coaching Federation (ICF) is a nonprofit membership organization led by a member-elected Board of Directors that oversees the organization's affairs. Paid staff members follow the leadership's direction and carry out its day-to-day work.


International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) is an international membership organization and a network of the management advisory and consultancy associations and institutes worldwide, who have a common purpose and shared values and goals. The ...


IMC USA is the certifying body and professional association for management consultants and firms in the USA. The IMC USA mission is to promote excellence and ethics in management consulting through certification, education, and professional resources.

Implementation Stage

Implementation is the culmination of the consultant’s and the client’s joint effort [to this point]. To implement changes that are real improvements from the client’s point of view is the basic purpose of any consulting assignment. The consultant, too, wants to see his ...

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).

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are the life skills we use every day to communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups. People who have worked on developing strong interpersonal skills are usually more successful in both their professional and personal ...

ISO 9000

The ISO 9000 family of quality management systems standards is designed to help organizations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product. ISO 9000 deals with the fundamentals ...


Japanese for "good change." It has been applied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life-coaching, government, banking, and other industries. When used in the business sense and applied to the workplace, kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all functions and ...

Knowledge Management

The process of capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organizational knowledge. It refers to a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of knowledge.

Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. The term was coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono. ...


The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources. A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal ...

Letter of Agreement

Goods, services, space, agreed-to prices, terms, and time are all particulars documented in what becomes a binding contract once the associated parties all sign it.

Low-hanging Fruit

The initial opportunities, areas of exploration, etc. that are easiest to cover. A quick win.

Management Consulting

Management consulting is an independent professional advisory service assisting managers and organizations to achieve organizational purposes and objectives by solving management and business problems, identifying and seizing new opportunities, enhancing learning, and ...


Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive: A term originating at McKinsey and common across management consulting firms, it’s a grouping principle that in the words of Wikipedia, “data in a group should be divided into subgroups that comprehensively represent that ...


The North American Free Trade Agreement is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral rules-based trade bloc in North America.


A not for profit organization is a type of organization that does not earn profits for its owners. All of the money earned by or donated to a not for profit organization is used in pursuing the organization's objectives.


A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national, or international level.


The Order of Chartered Administrators of Quebec (College of ADMA), or Ordre des administrateurs agréés du Québec, is a group of managers from all backgrounds. Our members are distinguished in various fields of management, ethics and corporate governance. They affect ...


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a unique forum where the governments of 34 democracies with market economies work with each other, as well as with more than 70 non-member economies to promote economic growth, prosperity, and sustainable ...

Organizational Transformation

Organizational transformation takes place when there is a change in the way the business is done or in the event of a re-engineering or restructuring activity. Along with the structural changes, the attitude of the employees, their perspectives as well as the culture ...


Price to Earnings Ratio: A valuation ratio of a company's current share price compared to its per-share earnings.


Plan/Do/Check/Act or Plan/Do/Check/Adjust: An iterative four-step management method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products. It is also known as the Deming circle/cycle/wheel, Shewhart cycle, control circle/cycle, or Plan/Do/Study/Act ...

Personal Skills

Personal skills are those concerned with how people manage and express themselves. They are revealed in those attitudes and behaviours people bring to their work, study, and daily activities.


Contact. Can refer to any form of contact, including email or tapping someone on the shoulder.


Pulled it out of thin air.


Typically used to reference the current and upcoming list of client engagements.


The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a not-for-profit professional organization for the project management profession with the purpose of advancing project management.

PMP Designation

PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. Globally recognized and demanded, the PMP®demonstrates that you have the experience, education, and competency to lead and direct projects. ...


Plan of action.


A document sent to meeting attendees in advance, with the expectation that attendees come to the meeting having read the document and prepared to discuss it.

Private Sector

The private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state (areas of the economy controlled by the state being ...

Progress Review

A periodic meeting - either internal or with the client - to review the progress made in the preceding period.

Project Management

Project management is the process and activity of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources, procedures, and protocols to achieve specific goals in scientific or daily problems.

Public Sector

The public sector is the part of the economy concerned with providing various government services. The composition of the public sector varies by country, but in most countries the public sector includes such services as the military, police, public transit, and care ...

Push Back or Pushback

Used to indicate resistance and/or disagreement, without actually using those terms. This phrase attempts to avoid any negative connotations or controversy.


Quality control, typically referring to the need to check for typos, grammatical errors, calculation errors, etc.

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance (QA) is a way of preventing mistakes or defects in manufactured products and avoiding problems when delivering solutions or services to customers. ISO 9000 defines quality assurance as "A part of quality management focused on providing confidence that ...

Quality Circle

A quality circle is a group of workers who do the same or similar work, who meet regularly to identify, analyze, and solve work-related problems.

Quality Management

Quality management ensures that an organization, product or service is consistent. It has four main components: quality planning, quality control, quality assurance, and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not only on product and service quality, but also ...


Research and development (R&D), also known in Europe as research and technical (or technological) development (RTD), is a general term for activities related to the enterprise of corporate or governmental innovation.

Retainer Agreement

A retainer agreement is a work for hire contract. It falls between a one-time contract and full-time employment. Its distinguishing feature is that the employer pays in advance for work to be specified later. Additional contracts regarding the performance of this work ...


A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a solicitation made often through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service or valuable asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals.

Right Sized

Euphemism for downsized.

Sandwich Method

A structure for providing feedback, that resembles a sandwich: one positive comment, then a developmental critique, ending with a positive comment.


SAP is an acronym for Systems, Applications, and Products.


The agreed-upon list of deliverables and boundaries that underpin any client engagement.

Scope Creep

A fancy word for misunderstanding. What the consultant and client expect the project to deliver is different. Sometimes this is the fault of the consultant for being unclear; sometimes it's the client's fault for last-minute add-ons. The consultant believes he is solving ...

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. It was developed by Motorola in 1986. Jack Welch made it central to his business strategy at General Electric in 1995. Today, it is used in many industrial sectors.


A service-level agreement (SLA) is a part of a service contract where a service is formally defined. Particular aspects of the service - scope, quality, responsibilities - are agreed between the service provider and the service user. A common feature of an SLA is a contracted ...


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs; sometimes also small and medium enterprises) or small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are businesses whose personnel numbers fall below certain limits.

Sniff Test

As in evaluating food for rancidity, this term is used when gauging the viability or reasonableness of a particular analysis; var. smell test.

Sole Source Contract

The term "no-bid contract" is a popular phrase for what is officially known as a "sole source contract" which means that there is only one person or company that can provide the contractual services needed, so any attempt to obtain bids would only result in that person ...

Sole Source Request (SSR)

A Sole Source Request (also known as “Directed Business”) usually comes from a client who has worked with the consultant before (and was obviously pleased with the result), has heard of the consultant’s expertise (often on referral by another pleased client), and is ...


A statement of work (SOW) is a formal document that captures and defines the work activities, deliverables, and timeline a vendor must execute in performance of specified work for a client. The SOW usually includes detailed requirements and pricing, with standard regulatory ...

Stand Up Call

A quick round table team call to update status from each team member/lead. Usually no longer than 15-20 minutes.

Straw Man

A construct presented purely for the sake of argument, with the implication that it is not designed to withstand repeated attack.


Some wild-ass guess.

SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis (alternatively SWOT matrix) is a structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project or in a business venture


Synectics is a problem solving methodology that stimulates thought processes of which the subject may be unaware. This method was developed by George M. Prince (April 5, 1918 - June 9, 2009) and William J.J. Gordon, originating in the Arthur D. Little Invention Design ...


The salient point that should be retained upon the conclusion of the discussion.


The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is a consortium which collectively develops and maintains a standard for the representation of texts in digital form. Its chief deliverable is a set of Guidelines which specify encoding methods for machine-readable texts, chiefly in ...

Termination Stage

Termination is the fifth and final phase of the consulting process. Every assignment or project has to be brought to an end once its purpose has been achieved and [or] the consultant’s help is no longer needed. It is not enough to execute the assignment in a professional ...

Terms of Reference

In many consulting assignments, the client has already prepared a Terms of Reference document (also known as a Statement of Work) that they send out in their call for management consulting proposals. These Terms often include a preliminary problem statement. Requesting ...

Total Quality Management

Total quality management (TQM) consists of organization-wide efforts to install and make permanent a climate in which an organization continuously improves its ability to deliver high-quality products and services to customers.

Upward Feedback

The process of providing feedback 'upward' to more senior employees, from managers to partners.


WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information, and cooperation


A group of tasks that make up a project. Usage – “The team was developing various workstreams to complete the client deliverables.”