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Are project consultants worth the money?

Corinne Forrest | Oct. 2, 2013
Probably not because many do an expensive and substandard job, argues Corinne Forest.

Although one size rarely fits all organisations, whether it's an IT or business project environment, regardless of industry or project type, one PPM operating model does. As all project environments operate in the same way, their performance can be radically improved very quickly using a cohesive and consistent operating model.


A radical new approach

Any experienced and capable consultant is adept at defining an engagement's objectives, roles, the structure, the schedule and, usually, the change plan.

What differentiates expert project consultants from generalists is that they come to engagements with world-class IP embedded in small specialist teams with deep and extensive PPM expertise. And they get to improved PPM competence and performance fast.

What you should never do is pay for hours of process re-engineering, endless meetings, costly trial and error and re-inventing, or even discovery, of the PPM wheel.

Project management environments are wonderful in their simplicity and they're all the same so clients should expect consultants to come to engagements with methodologies and tools that not only guarantee a successful outcome but optimise the cost of, and time spent, implementing or fixing PPM.

Here's how to find the right project consultant:

Hire specialists, not generalists. Armies of consulting generalists do not deliver the most valuable kinds of PPM solutions. Expert firms with a highly targeted product line, embedded in small teams that fix their price and use a rapid deployment approach do.

Generalists without profound and specialist PPM expertise and IP and who take a long-winded, process re-engineering approach rather than rapidly deploying turn-key solutions are the least likely to succeed.

Don't engineer process, select capability. Project environments are simple and should all operate in the same way using the same processes, frameworks, methodologies and business rules.

This makes it easy to select capabilities and slightly adapt them for the needs of a particular environment. A quality consultant quickly builds excellent capabilities, not sets you on a tortuous, long march to "maturity."

Use a rapid deployment approach Good PPM consultants capture immediate opportunities through rapidly deploying "quick win" solutions that align to the agreed long-term operating model.

They manage the environment's capacity for change while rapidly improving performance and maintaining the effective operation of the environment.

Employ an agnostic and extensive app capability. Consultants need to understand which project tools can best transform and support the operating model.

Make sure they really understand these tools and the damage they can do to your environment if not chosen well and implemented correctly.

Look for a consultant who understands the vendor's implementation methodology well enough to adapt it to the "quick win" aspirations and long-term goals of your environment.

Employ highly-developed consultants These people have seen and done it all. We see the best consultants separated from the rest by their ability to communicate the value of a project's performance to business stakeholders, IT and sponsors.


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