This happened many years ago with me while auditing a project. I requested the auditee for a project plan, and he asked, “Which one?”. I was a little surprised and said, “What do you mean by which one?”. He calmly answered “I am maintaining 3 project plans, one for the customer, one for my management and one for my team. So, you choose which one you want to audit.” Well, I had to tell the project manager that he is getting a Non-conformity because I was looking for the fourth project plan designed specifically for the auditor!!
Jokes apart, project management consultancy is a serious business and when done well adds solid value to any business. In large organisations the PM consultant is usually an internal full-time role in the form of a project management office or equivalent. For large size projects though they may well go in for an external project management consultant.
On the other hand, mid to small size organisations & start-ups do not always enjoy the same luxury of an internal Project Management consultant and this article focuses on various scenarios in which an organisation can engage and get benefitted from the services of an external PM consultant. This I hope would be useful both for organisations who are seeking clarity on where all an external Project Management consultant can add value. And at the same time other PM consultants can pick up an idea or two from possible modes of adding value to any organisation.
Now, depending on the situation/need of the organization this is what the CEO or the Senior Management may share with the Project Management Consultant:
- “We have bagged a big project & need End to End PM Consultancy”: This is probably the most common mode of engagement practiced by organisations (mid to large size) wherein the PM consultant becomes the reference point for everything from Planning, vendor sourcing, risk management, change management, project closure and more.
- “Help! My critical project is in critical condition?”: This is again similar to a) in terms of the scope (i.e. end to end consulting) however the consultant is brought in not at the start of the project but when the organisation (responsible for the project) realizes that it has run into troubled waters specially relating to their, so to say, “bread & butter” project.
- “We are missing a project management culture!”: And the need of the hour is to have a Project Management consultant enhance the organizational project management capability by first having a thorough understanding of the as-is situation.
- “Where is the big picture for our projects?”: The management is interested in tracking the program (multiple projects grouped together based on certain criteria) to understand the big picture (alignment with company strategy etc.) and then taking a deep dive into specific problematic projects. This needs integration of project data using tools & processes which can be facilitated by a Project Management Consultant.
- “Increase the Project Management Competency of my Project Managers”: This engagement could be similar to the S.no. 3 above however here the focus is more on the soft skills of the project manager though eventually it may touch on other areas such as processes & tools.
- “Our Projects are failing, and we are not sure why?”: This the equivalent of a Sherlock Holmes case for the PM consultant and needs an investigative approach to analyse the cause in-depth before venturing on a solution.
- “Not sure what to do in this project?”: This may come as a surprise, but this is especially true for internal projects assigned by the management to their junior/middle management cadre. The management has a broad idea about the end objective, but this must be crystallised into a project for the team to get started. This is where again a consultant can help.
- “We need a Project Plan”: In a small to mid-size set up the individuals know what needs to be done but are unable to stitch it all together in the form of a plan. Or even if it is done it adds more pain to the project rather than making things easier. In such cases the project management consultant is called in specifically to develop a project plan and help track it to completion, if necessary.
- “What should our PMO focus on?”: Depending on the project management maturity of an organisation the PMO needs to adopt a strategy accordingly. A PM consultant with his experience of dealing with various PMO can add a lot of value here.
- “We have a new PM tool and would like to institutionalise it across the organisation”: This is a simple use case wherein an organisation has done its bit of feasibility and identified a PM software/tool which now needs to be deployed at an organisational level. Many a times this may be done by the software provider itself but can also be supported by an external PM consultant.
- “We need PM SOP’s and/or project related Templates”: The organisation has its PM processes in place but needs to capture them on paper in the form of SOP’s or even standard templates for project reporting. The need for this could be driven by a continuous improvement drive or even a legal/standards requirement which an organisation may be wanting to adopt.
These are based on my personal experiences over the years as a project management consultant and they are not exhaustive. Would love to hear about specific use cases/triggers that led you to a PM consultancy assignment. Do leave your comments below.
And if you would like discuss any related needs for your organisation, feel free to contact me by clicking here.
Those interested in learning a new way of managing project could also refer to my book “Mind Maps for Effective Project Management” available on Amazon.
Happy Project Management!