Project Management

A Consulting Mistake

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at [email protected]. She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

I listened carefully as Scott rambled about his first consulting engagement. Finally, he cried out, “I’m doing everything wrong. I’m going to get fired. What do I do?” I was baffled because Scott was a very experienced and solid project manager. However, based on Scott’s remarks it was apparent that there was a disconnect between Scott and the CIO who was the client.

I asked about the contract and what he had committed to provide. Scott sheepishly looked at me and stated, “The contract is lax because the CIO did not think we needed a detailed document. He said he did not want to get tied up in the legal process and felt a minimal contract was adequate. He felt that because the problem was serious, we needed to immediately start working to resolve it. He trusted me and told me not to worry. Everything would be okay.”

But as time went on, everything was not okay. This article evaluates Scott’s situation, highlights a few skills project managers should hone if they decide consulting is a career path for them—and provides a solution to Scott’s predicament.

An advantage that project managers who embark on a consulting career have is their knowledge of project management. The challenge is that many project managers have never been educated in key consulting concepts. Scott started the engagement without having a …

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"If a man does only what is required of him, he is a slave. If a man does more than is required of him, he is a free man."

- Chinese Proverb