Project Management

Project Management Central

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Topics: Career Development, Consulting
Becoming a PM Consultant
I have managed projects for 10 years. I work for a large organization that covers multiple industries. The projects I lead are large, complex, extend throughout the enterprise, and are tied directly to the strategic goals of the company. However, I find myself becoming more complacent and in need of a challenge, which is why I'm contemplating the idea of becoming a project consultant.

If you are a project consultant or have been in the past:
- What are the required skills needed to become a consultant?
- What have you enjoyed most about being a consultant?
- What do you like the least?
- In your experience, what has been the biggest contributing factor to your success?

If you're willing to share your experiences, I would love to learn from those who have gone down this path.

Thanks in advance!
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While I am not a seller, time ago because my position in a company I worked I was trained on SPIN Selling (or Solution Selling), LAMP and Power Base Selling methods. All these helped me a lot when I was consultant. In fact, I used some of the techniques inside those methods for things related to business analysis and project management which are not selling.
The greatest challenge is to get the work in the door. Your knowledge and skill as a manager of projects cannot be tested until you have an assignment. The first skills are marketing skills and business skills.

Enterprises needing project support are looking for either 1) a project team, or 2) an individual to add support to an existing project team.

If they are looking for a team they will most likely retain a large established firm.

If they are looking for a specific skill set that may be you if you can validate your ability to serve that function - costing expert, scheduling expert, skill with a specific software application, etc. But keep in mind that being on contract you may be the odd man out.

Ideally it may be best to cozy up to a firm that builds project teams for hire. The team is made up of various self-employed contract personnel and offered in response to a request for proposal

In response to your specific questions:
Enjoy most: a certain level of independence in selecting projects, exposure to many different organizations and even industries.
Least: lack of security, challenge in finding suitable mentor(s), being an insignificant cog in a large wheel.
Biggest contribution to success: network and understanding wife.

Good luck
Hello Austin. Taking a leap of faith to leave a corporate job and go out on your own is a brave move, so if you decide to venture down this path, there are many benefits and drawbacks, depending on how you look at it. I myself left a company after almost 28-years with them and did just this. I spent many months researching different models, i.e work for myself independently, work for one of the larger consulting firms, going through a staffing agency, or sign on with a smaller local consulting firm. There are many things to consider, from setting up your business, Decide if you will be 1099, LLC, S-Corp and what are the benefits and drawbacks of each. Talk to your Tax guy! Establish business bank account, to purchasing liability, E&O insurance, creating a website, drafting basic contracts & SOW, knowing what your terms are, what type of clients do you want to work for, what types of projects do you want to lead, pricing your services (tiered vs standard) marketing, advertising, how will you manage your cashflow and the list goes on.

1. You’re no longer an employee, so don’t treat getting clients like you would applying for a job. You must demonstrate the tangible value that you provide your clients. Building Trust and Confidence are two of the most important values I share with my clients on day 1. Be a "Consultant" to your clients, not just a "freelancer or contractor" (There is a difference) and finally tailor established PMI processes and methodologies to the size and scale of every project.

2. As a consultant, your clients are your best assets. Your relationship with them “intellectual property” that holds your brand up. Regard the relationship you have with your clients as that of equals, breaking free of the client-vendor stereotype. Happy clients hire you again, refer you to others, and serve as references.

3. Focus on positioning: Who are you selling to, What do they want, and Why should they hire you?

What have you enjoyed most about being a consultant? - Sharing my knowledge, experience, coaching companies employees on best practices, working for new industries. I have found that introducing and training a client on a best practice, no matter how small, can be a real game changer, and seen as a "WooHoo" moment for a client.

What do you like the least? - Adapting to less structured organizations or companies that are less mature in their understanding of Project Management, and Change Management can sometimes be met with resistance, but also a big opportunity. Spend time to teach them that Project Management isn't tools or systems, but processes and best practices intended to help them deliver projects on scope, on-time, within budget and with the quality they require.
Good question. We see tons of those consultants in the market these days. Good points from Sergio and Mark.
Austin -

The others have covered many of the points I would make, but you should also decide whether or not you really enjoy the social belonging aspects of being part of a team within the same company for a prolonged period of time vs. just being a hired gun.

I would recommend that you read Gerry Weinberg's book The Secrets of Consulting if you decide to proceed with this journey.

Good luck!

Wow, so great responses from Sergio, Peter, Mark.
Just to add, I am not one but have met a PM consultant before.
1.You must assess yourself to know if you're armed with the necessary knowledge needed to provide counsel.
2. Don't be a know-it-all PM consultant... Specialize and build a brand in an industry
Thank you all for the amazing responses. You have given me more information than I expected to receive. I appreciate everything you guys have said and will continue to reflect on my skills, research the items mentioned above and read The Secrets of Consulting.

Furthermore, based on some of the responses, the first step seems to be: build a business plan. I need to dive in and assess my skills, tailor my marketing and networking efforts toward companies that best suite my skills, and really focus on building my "brand."

Thank you all!

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"Of all the 36 alternatives, running away is best."

- Chinese Proverb



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