Worried you can’t afford the support of an external project partner? You aren’t alone. Project teams often recognize the need for—and usefulness of—outside consultancy firms, but many harbor concerns about the cost or feel they won’t be able to justify the expenditure to the organization’s leadership team. Before your Project Team completely writes off the possibility of working with an outside expert, it’s important to understand all the ways a consultancy’s expertise, skills, and services will pay dividends.
The benefits of partnering with an outside expert may stack up more than you think. There are time-tested tools and insight that an experienced consultancy brings to the table. And in tallying the potential soft costs that result from tackling complex or troubled projects on your own, your cost/benefit analysis must also address the question: Can your organization really afford for this project to fail?
Consider just a few examples of where money is saved and costs are offset when working with an outside consultant.
Infighting and political pressures often wreak havoc on the Project Team’s efforts during the planning phase of a project. An external consultant can help the team see beyond this unproductive squabbling and quickly get a project moving again. An external expert is a neutral party able to operate outside the political process that sometimes hampers internal teams. This will not only save time and allow team members to focus on completing their tasks, it may also give the organization the flexibility to execute the project on a more advantageous time frame. If the company is eager to upgrade a manufacturing plant before the next seasonal upswing, for example, you don’t want an inefficient planning process to get in the way of that and jeopardize the organization’s potential revenue stream. A consultant will bring the skills necessary to keep the project moving forward and preserve those income dollars.
Inefficient planning and project execution costs the organization money in other ways, too. Late fees and rush charges can really add up, especially when they become the rule rather than the exception. An outside consultancy with a strong project management methodology will maintain project momentum and adhere to the plan, significantly reducing or even eliminating these wasted funds. How much could your Project Team save if rush charges were eliminated? How much lower would labor expenses be if overtime hours were reduced? The team’s performance will also improve as wasteful practices are resolved.
By gaining the support of an experienced external partner, Project Teams are likely to find their projects have clearer end points and are planned better. If your project office has ever encountered a project deliverable that turned out to be a moving target, then you know how much time and money is wasted when the entire team has to shift directions mid-stream. Strong communication skills are part and parcel of an external consultant’s strengths. It’s a competency that enables them to develop a plan that everyone can adhere to and that everyone understands. Expectations are more finely set, concerns better evaluated, and opportunities for savings more fully realized.
The improved processes an outside expert is often able to put into place may also save the project office money by reducing the team’s turnover rate. Poorly planned projects, uncooperative stakeholders that hinder progress, and frustrating internal politics make for difficult working conditions. Key employees might seek opportunities elsewhere if the situation becomes the norm. If the Project Team is routinely working to attract new members—and cover extra duties while open positions are under recruitment—then resources aren’t being used as efficiently as they could be and money is being wasted.