Project Management

The Consultant vs. In-House PM

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

From time to time, organizations find themselves in a dilemma trying to decide whether they should us an in-house PM or PM consultant to manage important projects. Like most choices in life, there are always tradeoffs to consider. Being aware of those tradeoffs and making conscious decisions on each is the best way to minimize unintended consequences, surprises and regrets.

With that in mind, here are some questions you can ponder when considering when it is best to use in-house or out-of-house project managers for your projects.

To make the choice making easier, the questions are presented in terms of some simple scorecards. The first will score the wisdom in choosing an outsider to manage your project(s). The second will score whether or not keeping the PM function in house is a better choice. When you are done, you will hopefully have given enough consideration to the choices to make a decision. However, if you are still undecided, the scorecard with the most points might influence your decision as well.

For each question below in the tables, a “yes” answer equates to one point, while a “no” answer is minus one point.

Scoring the Consulting PM Choice

(Score: Yes = +1/No = -1)

1. Do we need more qualified & experienced PMs than we have on staff?       
Implication: If you don’t …

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