I saw a meme the other day quoting Macy’s CEO, Ed Finkelstein: “A consultant is someone who takes your watch away to tell you what time it is.” Have consultants been reduced to the same stigma as a used car salesman? Is consulting a dying service? You could easily make that argument when more and more companies are taking the do-it-yourself approach in an age when information is at our fingertips and budgets are scrutinized incessantly. Or perhaps you feel the same way as Mr. Finkelstein above. However, I will challenge that theory, as it is impossible to do everything yourself and still do a good job.
Leveraging expertise outside of your core skillset allows you to focus on and excel at what you do best. This is why PPM Consultants have played such a prominent role, because they handle the behind the scenes details to align your PPM solution with your business strategies. It should be a win-win situation for everyone, right? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. That is why I challenge you to take a hard look at your current PPM consultant over the next 30 days. If any of the below signs resonate with you, it is time to act and ACT QUICKLY.
1.Your concerns are falling on deaf ears
A true consultant should take the time to LISTEN to your concerns, challenges, and short term and long term vision goals. This seems like a simple request, but I am sure it comes as no surprise that this is one of the biggest complaints I hear when I ask clients to share what they did not like about their previous PPM partners. Maybe you need a SharePoint integration to automate the progression from project initiation to execution. The consultant responds by sharing how their software can support resource capacity planning. And that, folks, is what we call a major disconnect. While you are hiring a consultant to provide you guidance based on their knowledge and expertise, often times it feels as though they are serving their own agenda or recommending something that solves another issue, which is not a priority for you. Until your primary concerns are addressed, you could care less about the other stuff.
2.They are not consulting
A consultant that actually consults – now that is an anomaly. Anyone can hire a worker bee to get the job done exactly the way you are asking it to be done. But you don’t know what you don’t know. On one hand you want them to listen and fix what you need, but maybe there is something that you have not thought of or possibly there is a better way to achieve the same result. For example, we recently spoke with a client who requires an integration between TFS and Project Server. If there is a better way to do it, wouldn’t you want to at least know about it? Unfortunately, most consultants will give you the effort and price for your request and end it there. If your PPM consultant is not providing feedback and options now to get you thinking out of the box, then they most likely never will.
3.You suspect they are Googling for answers
Are they really the experts they claim to be? I never expect someone to know the answer to every question that could be asked, and I appreciate the value of the statement “I do not know, but will get you the answer by conferring with my team.” However, when there is a pattern of someone not being able to ever answer you on the fly, then that should sound some alarms. I kid you not, I worked with client that said these words about the previous consultant they worked with: “I am pretty sure he is going and Googling every question about Project Server that I ask.” What I do not understand is why this particular client continued to work with said consultant for over 2 years before replacing him. How much more would they have been able to accomplish if they were working with a person that was more aligned with their needs?
4.Everything is overcomplicated
Even the simplest of tasks gets made into a project. Ok, on one hand I understand the value of project management, but when everything becomes a project and involves 3+ people, it becomes very frustrating. If you have a consultant working on-site it is not out of this world to expect them to be able to work on their feet and get things done quickly as they come up. That is why they are there in the first place. Everything should not be an ordeal that requires research, analysis, development, and an army of their consultant buddies. You want a quick turnaround and simplification. That is not too much to ask.
5.You cannot quantify their value
Ask yourself this question: “if my PPM consultant told me they were quitting today; would I fight to keep them around.” Answer this quickly and it should tell you quite a lot about how much you value this person. Trust your gut instinct, but if you would fight for them, why? What is it that they are providing and ultimately what does that translate to in dollars saved or impact to the bottom line? You should have a noticeable and quantifiable amount of hours and effort gained by having an expert on hand, and you should not be feeling like it is creating more work for you or that you are carrying an extra burden.