There are many reasons to partner with an outside consulting firm. Some Project Teams need the help of an expert with a neutral perspective, for example, while others are looking for guidance in a specific niche to augment their internal knowledge base. Many project teams simply need the assistance of a firm with experience in strong project methodologies.
But another benefit the Project Team can realize is the ability of an external firm to improve the team’s project budget adherence in the short term as well as across future projects. Outside consultants can offer assistance with defining clearer project endpoints, identifying potential problems, avoiding late or rush fees, and reducing or eliminating overtime hours for employees. Each of these improvements entails a multi-faceted approach which the Project Team should be able to employ for repeatable budget success.
Avoiding scope creep. Countless project budgets have been derailed when teams find themselves struggling to reach targets that never seem to stand still. An outside expert can be instrumental in helping your Project Team stick to its funding forecasts by defining clearer project endpoints early in the project’s lifecycle and avoiding nebulous objectives that move farther away with each phase. This is an important opportunity for longer-term success, as the strategy typically begins with implementing improved communication practices that dig into stakeholders’ needs and expectations while also giving the team a voice to set limits around what can be accomplished with a given set of resources. These skills will serve the team well when the potential for scope creeps raises its head in future projects.
Spotting budget-busting problems. External partners bring with them a deep well of experience and knowledge that can be a significant asset to the Project Team. Their previous projects have given consultants better visibility into potential problem areas that may be less obvious in the early phases of a project. Snafus with vendor scheduling, fluctuations in the raw materials market, discrepancies in stakeholders’ stated expectations and what their requests have been during previous discussions—each of these could put pressure on the Project Team’s budget. By identifying these issues long before they wreak havoc on the bottom line, an external partner will put the team in a better position to adhere to the original budget parameters.
Avoiding unnecessary fees. No one purposely seeks out late or rush fees while planning a project, but these insidious little budget killers continue to diminish a team’s ability to stay within budget. And while these fees are a real problem, there are also other concerning factors that often lead up to them. Project Teams may be hindered when discussions to finalize equipment or other specifications are unproductive and orders are placed too late. Teams might go astray when they fail to identify a specific skill set required for the project that must be contracted out at the last minute. Leveraging the experience of an external consultant will give the team better insight into where these sneaky costs are likely to lurk and allow them to address issues before they negatively impact the project’s budget.
Eliminating overtime costs. Rarely do teams anticipate overtime hours for Project Team employees, which may be the result of improper planning or inefficient execution. It’s a particular problem when the team is very busy, juggling multiple projects and trying to stretch their already-thin resources. Rather than continue to incur overtime expenses as each critical milestone approaches and employees burn the midnight oil, an outside expert can examine where the team’s productivity is being impaired and help devise strategies to get activities back on track. These same strategies can help increase efficiency across the Project Team’s entire project portfolio.