The Role of Project Management Consultants
The Role of the Project Management Consultant can be a complex one. The role has many different aspects and means different things in different organizations. So before we go further lets define, for the purposes of this article, what we at Daysha believe the role involves, and agree what we mean by Project, Project Management, and Consultant.
For me a project is simply a planned series of activities designed to solve a problem. There are many other definitions of projects but this seems to encompass the majority of what we do at Daysha Consulting.
Next, what is a Project Manager? This is probably the first place I diverge from the norm. I see a Project Manager as a Designer and Problem Solver. Huh!!? This might seem like a stretch too far…after all we simply want the project manager to ensure the project gets done – right? That might be the case for some projects, but for the majority of complex projects I believe more is required from project managers.
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The types of projects I am talking about are what I call Change Projects (vs ‘Routine Production projects’). In a Change Project there is a great deal more problem solving involved. These projects, by their very nature, are unique. They are trying to implement some change that has never been done before with this particular organization or group of people. A unique solution must be designed. In fact I believe the project itself must be designed. We don’t often think of project managers as designers and we definitely don’t have an explicit phase called Project Design.
You might think design is traditionally the domain of the creative types that came from art college. But today the concept of Design is permeating all aspects of business. If you don’t believe me I encourage you to check out the Design + Thinking movie here.
So what do we mean by Designing a Project? For us the definition of design is simply “devising a course of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”. Indeed this could also define the purpose of any project. But in IT in particular, most projects equal change. And each project is completed by a multidisciplinary group of people. The change being implemented is unique, therefore the optimal process to devise the solution and manage its implementation should also be tailor-made.
But what about our current project management methodology and standards? Many will argue that having a rigorously applied standard leads to productivity and predictability. But this argument is not reflected in the statistics. Something needs to change!
My view is that when applying your project management processes you should pick and choose the techniques that apply, and be mindful of what is needed to achieve the project objectives. We should not be driven solely by the need to comply with standard operating procedures simply because they exist.
It is the job of the project manager to design his project by selecting those tools that will work best for the unique situation that is bounding the project. There is a little more to this than just selecting the tools. You have to bring all the stakeholders along with you.
Some benefits of hiring a Project Management Consultant include:
- Return on investment: Consultants add value by using their skills and expertise to help deliver an outcome, solution, service or mitigate risk that provides a meaningful ‘return on investment’ to a client.
- Speed: Since consultants are already experienced and trained they can be deployed rapidly – sometimes within days as opposed to weeks or months. Their experience means they can engage promptly with the situation, and can quickly become effective in the client organisation
- Expertise: Project Management Consultants typically come into an organization at a relatively senior level and are expected to provide expertise and leadership
- Objectivity: Since they come from outside the client organization they are unencumbered by company politics or culture, and can provide a fresh perspective.
- Accountability: Project Management Consultants are not simply advisors. They are also practitioners and will take responsibility for and manage a project or programme.
- Effectiveness: Ideally, in order to be effective, a PM consultants will need to work well with senior management in the client company and also be granted some authority and credibility to effect significant change or transition within a company.
- Commitment: PM consultants should maintain high professional standards. They rely on their reputation and know that future work relies upon referrals and a successful track record.
But this begs the question – can a single project manager deliver all the skills and talents required. Sometimes the answer is yes, and other times its an emphatic NO. For the latter situation we have developed Project Management as a Service. You can read more about it here, but basically we treat project management not as the responsibility of a single individual but something that is delivered by a team of specialists. Each specialist will have different levels of involvement at different times in the project.
I hope this article has given you some insight into the Daysha view of the role of the project management consultants. For a more detailed breakdown of the bespoke support that we can provide to your organisation please contact us in Dublin today.