Project Management

The Highs and Lows of Contract Project Management

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

As many of you know, I run a consulting firm and many of my company’s engagements are around direct project execution. That gives me a potential bias in this article, so let’s get that out there before anything else. But it also gives me some insight into “war stories” from the front line. In this article, I want to provide a few anecdotes and look at what they can teach us about the pros and cons of using contract project management resources.

If you look at any job board, there are a lot of project management jobs posted--and a good percentage of them will be contract based. Project management lends itself well to a contractual relationship--the skills are generally transferrable, the need is frequently only for the duration of a specific initiative and the availability of PMs is relatively high simply because of the temporary nature of projects. Done well, contract-based project management can deliver the kind of results that simply wouldn’t be possible using only employee resources; done badly, it can be a disaster.

The impact of the economy
I recently saw a job posted in a major city for “Senior Project Manager, Software Development (Contract)”. I don’t know exactly what time the job was posted, but I saw it before lunch on the date of the posting. Next to the little “apply” button were the words &…

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"To generalize is to be an idiot."

- William Blake