Many companies choose to hire consultants to establish an efficient system or process to enable desired success. We know that companies lose a significant amount of money when projects are handled ineffectively due to mismanagement, inefficient project managers etc. However, all problems are not solved miraculously by hiring a consulting company, especially one without the right qualifications. To ensure that a project management consulting company is worth the investment, organizations need to focus on these four key do’s and don’ts (in no particular order) of hiring a project management consultant company.
- DO know and clearly define the challenge you trying to solve
A primary reason consultants are hired is to facilitate a fresh perspective for the organization and offer alternative resolutions for an existing or even recurring problem. But that is assuming you have pinpointed what the problem is and exactly where you need that consultant to focus their attention. Too many times we see organizations that know they have challenges, know they need help, and hire someone to fix it. Yet “it” is not defined and a lot time, money and effort is spent solving the wrong problems. Don’t fall into this trap! A good consulting company will spot this from the beginning and recommend a workshop, before suggesting moving forward, in order to determine the problems that need immediate attention and come up with a game plan to tackle these areas. Not only will these workshops actually save you time and money in the long run, they will also help in assessing the consultant company’s knowledge and skill set required to provide guidance to the organization.
- DON’T hire a consultant company without doing your research
Unfortunately, there are too many companies trying to be all things to all people. Anyone can say they have the skills and knowledge to help you, but what proof are you requiring from them during the evaluation process? It is absolutely critical to establish that the person, team, or company you hire has the required knowledge and skill set to understand your business, current processes, and can offer logical, timely, and flexible solutions to solve the issue(s) at hand. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and be sure to thoroughly scan their website and materials – is it clear and obvious they are experts in this area? And absolutely don’t forget the importance of knowledge transfer. This is another aspect you must validate before committing, define what it means and expectations, and closely monitor throughout the engagement. This is important for many reasons, but most of all you always need to be prepared for the day when the consulting company is not re-hired.
- DO secure executive/management support
Just as it is important to have the support of management for your own projects and work, having management commitment to hiring and leveraging a consultant company is equally as crucial to the success of this type of engagement. An organization must guarantee this management and executive support, because a project manager or consultant from another company has less power to produce results if he or she does not have sufficient stakeholder support. The stakeholders are the ones to best define the challenges at hand and expectations. Without those, how do you measure the success of this endeavor? It is also proven time and again that projects and priorities without stakeholder support often leads to avoidable failures. Make sure everyone is on the same page and communication is open throughout.
- DON’T fear change
That is the whole reason you are hiring them in the first place! Expectations of change management are often overlooked or underestimated. Of course you anticipate some amount of change, because how else will the problems be resolved. However, sometimes the changes needed are quite significant and may cause temporary chaos as everyone gets acclimated to the new process. Again, without that management support, clear communication, and accurate expectations red flags can get raised very quickly, especially when it comes to budgetary issues. In situations like this, it is imperative the consultant company analyzes and understands the organizational maturity in the initial stages of engagement. Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask and validate the company you are hiring not only if they understand the scope of change you will be faced with, but also their plan to mitigate risks and execute smoothly.
Learn from the experience of others, and don’t cause yourself more headaches than you most likely already have. It is the combination of the dos and don’ts that make the difference between success and wasted time and money. It is important to note that the points mentioned above are not the only dos and don’ts that one should keep in mind while hiring a project management consultant. However, these must be the foundation from which better negotiations can be made resulting in more successful engagements. Project management consulting companies can be very beneficial to propel an organization towards their goals and support growth, provided there is a skill and qualification match.