Project management consulting is an ideal niche within which a management consultant can operate and thrive. Organizations in both the public and private sectors are constantly changing their operating models, processes and activities in response to changes in their environment, markets, technology, strategy and legislation.
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The Need is Great
Research has shown that large organisations allocate approximately 20% of annual operating budgets to funding change initiatives. The same research establishes that in excess of two thirds of all programs and projects fail to deliver the benefits that were expected when the initiative was started.
This represents a poor return on investment. In addition, and possibly of greater concern is that organizations are exposed to significant risk of financial loss or reputational damage as a consequence of disruption to core operations and the associated impaired ability to deliver value to customers and ultimately shareholders.
Project Management Consulting
It is a bit of a cliché, but business change is generally accepted to be a constant feature of modern organizations.
Executive teams need to focus on and distinguish between two distinct areas of responsibility:
- Firstly, managing the day to day operations of the organization, often referred to as 'business as usual'; be it manufacturing, distribution or providing a service to existing customers
- Secondly, the Board need to work strategically, determining what the organization must look like in the future and how it must operate in order to survive and thrive. The successful initiation, execution and completion of change programs and projects are central to achieving this 'target operating model'
It is in this second domain, namely project management consulting, that an external consultant can add significant value to a client organization.
It is often assumed that managers and staff in client businesses have basic and adequate project management skills and experience. Maybe this expectation is in response to the reality which is that organizations change year on year, therefore it is assumed that people working in large organizations will be familiar with programs and projects, and through experience, will be capable of planning and managing complex change initiatives.
In fact, this working assumption on the part of many executives results in significant wasted resources and disruption to core operations. Program and Project management are specialist disciplines that require investment in training and qualifications in order that staff can obtain the skills and methodologies required to plan and execute change initiatives with a high probability of successful outcomes.
This gap between expectations and reality creates the market for project management consulting services.
Project Management Methodology
A project management methodology provides a framework within which skills, resources and technology are managed in concert in order to achieve specific objectives and ultimately deliver benefit to the business or organization.
The use of a proven methodology such as PRINCE2™ significantly improves the probability a project being delivered successfully: on time; within budget; benefits in line with initial expectations and to the required quality standards.
Central to any project management methodology is robust risk management. Effective risk management in a project management environment will substantially improve the probability of success, or expressed another way substantially reduce the likelihood of unexpected or unwanted outcomes.
An experienced project manager will be very well placed to offer project management consulting services to organizations in both the public and private sectors. Furthermore, experience has shown that demand for high caliber project managers is strong regardless of the stage reached in the economic cycle; organizations run projects of different types at different points in the cycle.
The adoption of a proven project management methodology enables the client to benefit from improved clarity and reduced risk at all stages of the project lifecycle. Starting with the initial brief from the executive team and through project definition, the creation of the business case, project initiation, mobilization and close-out a proven and internationally recognized methodology will add substantial value.
Furthermore, most large projects involve organizations (suppliers) that are external to the client business. It is quite likely that the corresponding project team in the supplier organization will be using one of the globally recognized project management standards. Project management consulting services that are based on PRINCE2™ or other proven methodologies enable management consultants to work effectively across organizational boundaries.
Project management consulting services have proven through many years to be a mainstay of consulting offerings for many consulting businesses. The client need is great and seemingly constant from year to year; practitioners who have the skills, experience and qualifications in project management are less common than you might imagine.
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