Project Management

5 Steps to Integrating a Consulting Project Manager Into Your Team

There are a variety of different benefits that can be achieved when your company hires a project management consultant to direct your team to operate in an efficient manner. But when you are bringing a consultant on-board to be the manager of the project’s team, it can take time to sure that the integration goes well. There is a major difference between integrating a short-time consultant into your team and integrating a consultant who is meant to be the project manager. If you are not sure how to plan effectively to ensure the project is a success, here are 5 steps you should follow:

Step 1: Make Sure All of the Roles Within the Team Are Clearly Defined

If you are used to being the team leader, bringing on a consultant who will act as the project manager for this project can be difficult. It is important to realize that your title is not changing just because the consultant will be involved. You need to make sure that everyone in the team, including yourself, understands their roles and responsibilities. You should define exactly what the consultant will be doing as acting manager and then delegate all of the other responsibilities accordingly. Here are some of the many questions that you will need to keep in mind when you are defining roles:

  • Who will be responsible for overseeing all of the other team members?
  • Which team members have the right skill sets for specific roles?

If you fail to answer these questions, it is likely that there will be problems completing the project at hand.

Step 2: Make Sure Analysis is Completed Before the Consultant Gets to Work

You hire a consultant to be project manager for a specific project because they bring something that your team cannot bring to the plate. While these consultants make have an expertise that will be highly valuable to the project, you need to make sure that you do all of the appropriate research before the consultant comes to the team. If your in-house team does not do all of the research that is needed by the consultant before they come to the team, you may have to pay the consultant even more money to do their own research. Remember, a consultant who is paid by the hour might not mind the downtime if you are not prepared for them. While this is true, you are going to be paying them while you are making project decisions that should have already been made.

If you take time to complete an analysis before the consultant comes on, you increase the chances of your project estimates being on point. With extensive business logic, the consultant can make more accurate estimates that will help your company and will also determine the success of the project.

Step 3: Make Sure You Have Your Own Estimates in Place

No company should rely on the estimate that the hired consultant proposes. While this proposal can be helpful, it is best if the company and their team estimates the time that will be spend on the development of the project. When you have your own estimate, you can compare your estimate and the estimate of the consultant to ensure that their are no major differences. While not all consultants do this, there are some who will create optimistic estimates just to please your company. It is also possible for the consultant to fail to understand the complexity of the project before they send over the proposal. By having your estimate before integrating the consultant into the team, you can prevent setting unrealistic deadlines.

Step 4: Help the Consultant Through the Project Life Cycle

After the estimates have been compared, the managing consultant will put together a formal proposal that includes plans, standards, and project methodology. This proposal must be signed by management at the company before the project can start its first stage in the life cycle. The formal proposal should be reviewed by every member of the team and updated on a regular basis so that everyone knows what stage of the life cycle the project is currently in.

It should be the duty of all of the in-house team members to help the consultant through the entire project life cycle so that the proposal becomes reality. When everyone reviews the proposal, updated the documents, and understands the goals and plans, it is likely that the project will be a success. Failing to help the consultant through each stage could jeopardize what the company is trying to achieve by paying for this project.

Step 5: Make Sure That Issues Are Documented

As you may know, you are having a consultant manage your project because it is higher profile than some of the other projects you have deployed in the past. It is important for you as a company manager to keep a journal so that you know when there are accomplishments, roadblocks, and other issues that you will need to discuss with the team for solutions. If you document the issues that may arise throughout the project life cycle, then you can avoid some minor issues turning into major issues that could lead to failure.

It is never easy to a consulting project manager into a team when you are used to being the person in charge of all of the details. It is important to make sure that everyone understands their roles and takes care of their responsibilities as a team member. By following each of these steps, documenting the progress, and looking out for serious issues, you can turn your project into a success and complete the project by the deadline.