Making projects flow smoothly often means considering outside help or inside training. How do you decide which is best for your project management needs? Jean Scheid looks at project management consulting firms versus in-house training.
How to Decide If You Need Help
How does a project manager determine if they need outside help? If it has been a while since you've revamped your project management skills, how valuable are you really? Do you understand things like project planning, change management, resource management, or know how to manage teams effectively? If you are weak in these areas, to stay ahead of the competition, a project management consultant firm may be right to help your projects succeed.
Project management consultant firms also offer tips on how to complete projects in an orderly fashion with successful outcomes, usually the first time. They have bucket-loads of experience and can offer trained professionals to help you with every aspect of your project plan.
Most project management consultant firms will charge your company in one of three ways:
Hourly - Set an agreed upon hourly rate.
Retainer - Charge a lump sum for a certain period.
Project - Review and set a price for the entire project from beginning to end.
Because all project consultant firms are different in type and methods utilized, pricing can vary from affordable to the very high.
Will In-House Training Work?
In-house training is only as good as the trainer. Consider the cost of a consultancy firm compared to joining the Project Management Institute (PMI) and taking some useful seminars that will help you become certified in project planning and management. In the long run, PMI might be more cost effective. For example, PMI's Project Management MBA: Four-Day Crash Course is a 29 hour online course at a cost of around $2,600. Upon completion you'll have a better knowledge of:
Students attending the online seminar work with one another to create scenarios, plan, and complete projects using PMI's project management techniques. The value of a seminar that allows you to train in-house is that through training and hands-on tools, you'll have a better knowledge of how to run a project plan without the help of an outside consultancy firm. Completing project management training and utilizing what you've learned will also help you identify areas of concerns within teams and projects, and seek methods for better outcomes.
What If Time Is of the Essence?
If you realize you'll lose the project if you wait until you are prepared to in-house train, and that project is an important opportunity for you to gain additional work, you might want to consider an outside consultancy firm. With that will come the question of how to pay for their services, however. To determine if paying for a consultant is right for your company consider:
- If you lose the project, how many others will you lose?
- By hiring outside sources for help, will you gain future projects?
- Is in-house training not where it should be? Would the project fail without help?
- What can I learn from an outside consultant that I can use on future projects?
- Can the company afford to lose the project?
- Will an outside consultancy firm build better project management and planning skills?
The decision to hire an outside project management consultancy firm versus in-house training is a discussion you and your supervisors need to have if large projects are awarded and your in-house training is lacking. On the other hand, if you're confident in your project management skills, in-house training will work for you. Before you decide, speak with supervisors and owners of the company and visit your upcoming project schedule to determine your best avenue to be successful in project planning.