Partnering with an External Consultancy: Facts & Fears

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Executive groups and internal project team members are often unsure what it means to partner with an outside project management firm. There may be concerns about job stability for PMO staff or the potential for damage to the team’s reputation. Some people worry about the logistics of working with an external expert and how it might contribute to a difficult environment, where workloads, time pressures, and stress levels are already high.

 

These are reasonable concerns but they’re typically based on the unknown. They don’t reflect the reality of partnering with an experienced outside consultancy. We’ve compiled some of the most common fears we hear from potential clients and balanced them against the facts of how a relationship with an external expert functions in the real world.

 

If your organization is considering an external consultancy but fear is holding you back, see how a partnership with an outside project management expert really works.

 

Fear: An outside consultant will eventually replace our internal staff. Existing team members could potentially lose their jobs or promotional opportunities will evaporate.

 

Fact: An external project firm is not hired as a replacement for your internal employees. Instead, their purpose is to work alongside your team as an experienced collaborator. An outside consultancy brings targeted expertise around project planning and controls that augments and supports the strengths your center of excellence already possesses. They may also plug gaps where niche skills aren’t feasible to maintain in-house. Your organization can continue to manage its own workforce, set its own staffing levels, and develop its own career paths.

 

Fear: Adding people to an already-challenging team dynamic will only make our situation worse.

 

Fact: Outside experts are trained to provide input as a neutral third party. They have strong facilitation skills to move past the difficulties that may be preventing your team from working together effectively. Whether your internal dynamic has been complicated by conflicting personalities, personal agendas, a lack of communication, or by too many factions using their own approach to project management, an experienced consultancy helps to cut through all of that. They will ensure that everyone in the PMO is committed to their role in the project. Roadblocks and challenges will be tackled with a perspective that focuses on achieving success rather than pointing fingers or becoming mired in internal politics and emotions.

 

Fear: A partnership with an external expert will just make our in-house team look inexperienced or unskilled.

 

Fact: The opposite is actually true. An outside consultant will help your PMO improve its performance, adopt more effective practices, and deliver strong results across the long term. This will raise your reputation among stakeholders and the executive group as your center of excellence becomes the go-to place for project management expertise. Your team will be better equipped to maintain strong communication channels across internal silos, control project boundaries and budgets, troubleshoot difficult problems, identify and address project risks, and consistently drive the most challenging projects to a successful completion.

 

Fear: Bringing in an outside consultant will create more work for us and add more stress to our already stressed-out team.

 

Fact: By implementing a proven project management methodology with robust controls across the entire PMO, the in-house team will be able to more effectively manage their workloads. Existing stress is commonly associated with unreasonable project schedules, poorly-sequenced activity plans, squabbling among stakeholders, insufficient resource management practices, and scope creep. The internal center of excellence will gain the ability to head off problems before they become critical, maintain control around the project’s parameters, improve communication across all stakeholder groups, and more accurately oversee resource loads and requirements.