Being a Project Management Consultant can be difficult. True – the opportunity to choose the projects on which you work, and the clients for whom you work can be very enticing. The downside, however, is knowing that you’re on your own – there’s no corporate safety net below to catch you if a decision you made or an action you took knocks you off the wire. You need to clearly understand what being a PM Consultant means, and how it may differ from any other Project Management work you’ve done in the past.
Over the years, I’ve developed a number of PM consulting guidelines that, when followed, help the practitioner understand the very specific behaviors necessary to be effective (and less stressed!)
My four basic rules for Project Management Consultants are:
• Client satisfaction pays the bills – Identify who your client is immediately, understand expectations, and deliver. Your client is the person that approves your time-card, not necessarily the project sponsor. This may be different from other projects on which you worked! Satisfy the approver first.
• Be smart – but not too smart – No one likes a project management “know it all.” For some reason, the client has chosen to staff this PM role with temporary assistance (you). Could be that they don’t have enough project managers, or could be that they have really never heard of project managers until now. For whatever reason, there is still some level of doubt about the long-term value of project management at the firm. Don’t try to come off as the organizational savior, who promises redemption if only his client would heed his wisdom and calculate BCWP on an hourly basis. Take it slow…understand the company’s attitude toward project management and adapt. You are the one that has to be flexible…they only pay the bills…
• Be flexible in your delivery – Anticipate and accept your client’s definition of your role. It will often be the case that you – as a consultant – will be called upon to perform project duties not in line with your personal definition of a Project Manager or with what the PMBOK says Project Management is all about. Work within their boundaries. That is not to say that you should not look to improve the customer’s application of PM techniques, but realize that although the customer may not always be right, they are always the customer.
• Prepare for transition – separation from your project may occur differently than in the past. Be prepared both tactically and emotionally. The usual practice of seeing a project to formal closure may not be in play as a consultant, where you may move on for reasons specific to the temporary role that you fill. Whether you “roll off” a project because your work is done, your replacement has arrived, your budget has been cut, or (heaven forbid) your performance has been sub-standard, be ready for a “clean” break. You may (or really should) maintain relationships with the project stakeholders from all your past projects, but also realize that the fact that you are not an employee of their firm does matter.
The professional challenge and growth one experiences as a PM consultant – in my opinion – FAR outweighs the somewhat mild adjustments necessary to transition from full-time employment to the life of the nomad (i.e. contractor). Still, it is important to understand the differences. Once noted, however, you will find that the new demands made upon you will only help you progress into a more flexible, efficient, and profitable project management professional.
Todd B. Loeb MBA, PMP has managed multi-million dollar full-lifecycle projects that have spanned several years and been responsible for the implementation of PMO’s and Enterprise Project Management applications. He also managed project teams of anywhere from two to one hundred people. You can read more from Todd on his blog.
Original Author : Todd B. Loeb
Courtesy : http://toddloeb.wordpress.com/