4 The record articles

Seven Consulting Project Management New Year’s ReSOLUTIONS for 2016

Posted: January 18th, 2016

Author: All4 Staff 

1. Get paid for doing all the work.  Doing the work when writing a proposal can get disguised as “research” needed to distinguish proposals from the competition. If you find yourself spending more than 15 minutes “researching” the project, you should probably be getting paid for that effort.  Since we do air quality consulting work, a good example in our space would be time spent reviewing permits or reviewing past emissions inventories for sufficiency.  Solution:  Describe in the proposal what you are going to do instead of doing it while writing the proposal.

2. Look ahead, not behind.  Getting to the end of the month without making time to check on the project week to week is “managing by invoice” and, before you know it, you’re over budget or about to go over budget. Then the temptation for shenanigans comes knocking, like “moving time” to another task – you know – the shell game. This is NOT Project Management.  Solution:  Make weekly project budget reviews a structured habit for every project and proactively communicate with your client if things are not trending where you expect.

3. Get value from all time that adds value.  I can’t “justify” billing these hours because {insert any # of reasons here}.  Sound familiar?  Granted, there may be situations when consultants “donate our time” for a valid reason.  But if this is happening to you more than a few hours a year, it’s time to look inward, and perhaps consult that Magic 8-Ball.  Solution:  The answers are in the questions.  Ask yourself some pointed questions, like:

a. Did we cost this project correctly?

We’ve been doing this a long time, so Signs point to yes

b. Did we do work that wasn’t in our scope?

If you weren’t following resolution No. 2, You may rely on it

c. Do I need to get a scope/budget change?

Yes, definitely

d. Have I been communicating budget status with the project team regularly?

Very doubtful

e. What can I do differently?

Concentrate and ask again

4. Bother the client.  You need data, you need a scope change, you need SOMETHING to provide service to the client, but you allow yourself not to act because you “don’t want to bother them.” We rarely, if ever, get feedback from our clients that we are “over-communicating” or “bothering them.” We DO get feedback that we are not “bugging them” enough or we do not communicate frequently enough.  Solution:  Unless asked not to, call, email, text, or otherwise communicate with your clients as much as you can, like at least once per week.  Find that “sweet spot” time that works for them and you and make it another structured habit.

5. Stay focused on the scope of work.  I am very proud to say we write GREAT proposals.  We really do.  Maybe because we do No. 1 a little too much. Regardless, these proposals establish a solid work plan. Consultants can easily lose sight of what they agreed to do by not keeping the proposal clear and present during execution of the project.  Solution:  Distribute the proposal to the team at project kickoff, bring it to every project meeting, ask a team member to review it before every meeting.  The few minutes it takes to do these things will pay off in a well-executed on-budget project.

6. Be accountable to the project team. You hold your project teams accountable to interim deadlines, as you should.  They deserve nothing less from you. A quick path to losing the TRUST of the team is to let yourself slide on your own deadlines, then as the end approaches ask the project team to “step up” to long days or late nights to meet the final deadline. Solution:  Be as flexible with your project team as you are with yourself within the execution of projects, be collaborative and cut them some slack from time to time, like you do for yourself.  ACCOUNTABILITY is a two way street.

7. Get the value from Project Management. Time spent scheduling project tasks, following up, focusing on scope, tracking budgets and reviewing invoices for accuracy is necessary to provide well-executed and hassle-free services to the client.  This has the same, if not more, value as technical work and is not free.  But too often these things get missed or diminished when developing project budgets, adding to the challenge of resolution No. 3 above.  This is especially relevant for consultants in the “Seller-Manager-Doer” model.  Solution:  Make project management tasks a discrete line item in your proposal budgets and look at the time you spend on these tasks objectively.  Build this time into the project and bill it, it is valuable.  If your client doesn’t value this effort, it might be time to find another client.


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