Selecting A Project Management Consultant

Selecting A Project Management Consultant

Looking to hire a project management consultant but not sure what to look for?

Have you been charged too much by previous consultants and want to discover how to get the most value for your money?

Try this project management consultant selection checklist.

Lets face it. Most consultants charge a small fortune, by the hour for their services. A project management consultant is no different. Consultants charge high rates because you are not only buying their time, you are also buying their intellectual property (IP). Intellectual Property that if implemented into your business, should put you in a better situation then before you engaged the consultant. If your project management consultant is not providing you more value then he or she is charging, then you need to be looking for another project management consultant.

If you are currently looking for project management consulting or reviewing your current project management consultant then try this checklist as a great starting point when selecting your next consultant.

Project Management Consultant Selection Checklist

Hire A Certified Project Manager

The first sign to look for that ensures your project management consultant has industry knowledge is that he holds relevant certifications. In the project management industry, depending on your location and industry the most popular are:

  • Certified Practicing Project Manager (CPPM)
  • Certified Practicing Project Director
  • Prince2 Practitioner
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Registered Project Manager (RegPM)

If your project management consultant is not a certified project manager in one of the recognised industry bodies, then it is difficult to ensure he has sufficient industry depth and breadth to offer your business the best service.

Membership With A Professional Association

Like any profession, there are ongoing professional development opportunities that professional associations provide to keep their members up to date with current best practices and legislative changes. Your project management consultant should belong to at least one of the industry associations. You should be able to request their current earned Professional Development Units (PDU’s) they have attained for the year be attending conferences and reviewing papers, many project management associations mandate a minimum PDU is required to maintain certification.

The professional project management associations will vary depending on your location, but can include:

The Project Management Consultant Is Insured

As a project management consultant is providing professional advice that could impact o your business, it is critical that they carry sufficient insurance so that if something goes wrong, your business has sufficient protection. There are two main insurances to check for:

  • Professional Indemnity Insurance (PI) is special insurance that protects the client from poor advice offered by the consultant. If they do not carry this insurance and there is a need to make an insurance claim, it is unlikely they will hold enough liquid assets to ensure adequate compensations. TheĀ amountĀ of cover required is best determined by a qualified insurance advisor, but typical coverage is usually $2 million or $5 million.
  • Public Risk & Liability Insurance (PL) is insurance that covers personal and public injury that occurs in the consultants place of business. If you are working in their office or if they are working in yours, it is important they hold sufficient coverage for any personal of property damage. Typical insurance amounts are $10 million and $20 million.

I am not a qualified insurance advisor and this information is general in nature – it does not constitute insurance advice. It is recommended that you consult a qualified insurance advisor on insurance related matters.

Does The Consultant Have A Strategic Understanding Of Business

A project management consultant is their to improve the performance of your business with sound project management advice and processes. In order for a project management consultant to be effective, they should have a solid understanding and background in business. You will get the biggest results by ensuring your project management processes are suitably aligned to the individual needs of your business.

Open And Transparent Processes

Your project management consultant will have access to sensitive business information and it is important that they operate and maintain open and transparent communication processes. You should feel comfortable that your consultant is honest and open with all their dealings with your business and theirs. You should be able to trust them and they should be able to trust you, on a professional level.

Is Cost Conscious With Your Money

Due to the high hourly rate that project management consultants are able to charge, it is important that they understand and work within the constraints of your budget. Having an understanding of your budget, the project management consultant should focus their efforts that yield the highest return in the least amount of time. It is important that these high return items are prioritised first to ensure you see maximum return. Some consulting firms have made a bad name for themselves by dragging out engagements, meaning minor engagement drag on for months costing many thousands more than expected.

Has Multiple View Points

I think out of all of the project management consultant selection criteria, this one is often the most misunderstood. Many companies are tempted to hire a technical specialist as a project management consultant. While having niche experience as a technical engineer or designer is desirable, it is not that same case for the project manager. Projects by their very nature are unique and there is far more value to be gained from a consultant that has wide industry knowledge that can be used to overcome unique issues and risks.

When larger companies look for key c- level personnel they will often source from adjacent markets and industries. These executives are able to bring the unique skills learnt and transform them into new industries. A good project management consultant with a wide background, should be able to offer the same transferable skill set.

Fits Your Culture

The project management consultant that you choose will likely be working in your organisation and amongst your employees and project team members. It is important that they fit your companies culture and can quickly build rapport and trust with your key personnel. This will be critical for the success of the changes that the consultant will be putting into place.

Coaching vs Dictator

The project management consultant’s management style is closely aligned with culture. You will gain much more by selecting a project management consultant that coaches rather than dictates order to your staff. The project management consultant is their to share knowledge, best practice and grow the project management maturity and capability of your organisation.

Knowledgable And Trustworthy

This goes hand in hand with being open and transparent. When working with a project management consultant, a great deal of trust is placed on them to offer the best advice and implement the best project management solutions that suite the needs of your business. It is important that they are knowledgeable in your business issues and you feel that you can trust them with the problems your business is currently faced with along with the short and medium term goals of your business.

Favour Smaller Project Management Consultants Or Freelancers

Finally, I personally favour smaller consultancies to the larger corporate consultants, the problem with larger consulting firms is that you may be paying higher rates for a junior team member. With a smaller consultancy, you are more likely to have access to the principal and senior consultants working with you on your project. For freelance project management consultants or small project management consulting firms the entire team is likely dedicated to getting results for your business.

Don’t shy away from the smaller consulting firms. Just ensure you have a method for evaluating their skills and expertise such as this project management consultant checklist.

Download A Project Management Consultant Selection Checklist

Click +1 to Download Your Free Project Management Consultant Selection Checklist!

Do you have any other selection criteria that you would like to add to the list above? Leave your suggestion in the comments below.

Filed Under: Business

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Who Wrote This Article? ...(It was: Chris O'Halloran)

I'm "Chris O". I've managed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects since the inception of my career. I love helping others figure out the intricacies of project management on any scale. Come find me on twitter or google+

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