How to Be a Project Management Consultant

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Project management consultants can not only add value to a project, but they can help introduce project management processes to any team. It’s a great career transition for current project managers to consider. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you what PM skills, PM tools and related experience you need to succeed in this competitive field.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

what you need to become a project management consultant

In Review – How to Be a Project Management Consultant:

In this video, Jennifer draws on personal experience as a PM consultant to help those considering a career switch into this growing field. Jennifer has over 20 years experience as a Project Manager and a PM Consultant, and knows the pros and cons of the role.

The Growing Field of Project Management Consultancy

As project management becomes a more defined career and in-demand profession, the need for consultancy also increases across all industries. According to PMI, by 2020 more there will be than 15 million project management-related jobs globally, of which a growth of close to 700,00 will be in the United States.

Therefore, the need for project management consultants who bring their specialized skills and knowledge to a project will also grow. Many companies hire project management consultants to provide guidance, process support, PM tools and solutions and strategic advice. These can be large or small companies, and a wide variety of organizations with different levels of PM maturity.

Whether you’re trained in the PMBOK or in Agile, there are many opportunities to help organizations with process change, organizational change, setting up PMOs or simply starting a PM process to begin with.

What Do You Need to Become a Project Management Consultant?

Jennifer notes five requirements that will round out your resume when applying for a consultancy position.

  1. Skills: You’re not going to guide a project, if you’re not already well-versed on what makes up a project and the various methodologies in which to control and manage one to a successful end. You might need to be versed in several different methodologies, such as Agile, Scrum, PMBOK, Prince2, depending on the types of organizations you’re looking to support.
  2. Experience: Skills alone will not cut it. It’s the old debate between book smarts and street smarts. The truth is you need both to inform your decisions.  Make sure you have at least 5-10 years experience as a project manager in order to provide real value to your clients.
  3. Expertise: If you can show that you’ve handled situations that the organization is currently wrestling with, and found a path out of those struggles to a viable solution, you’ll be a vital resource.
  4. Training: The need to have a background to understand and apply methodologies and tools with knowledge that they’re effective tools to project success will make you a more viable candidate.
  5. Certification: Finally, if you have project management certification, then there’s an independent third party verifying the skills you claim you have.

What Does a Project Management Consultant Do?

Beyond the technical and experiential skills required, a project management consultant needs to have interpersonal skills, which Jennifer outlined.

  1. Be Accountable: You’re there to provide direction, which means you must take ownership for the decisions you make and not pass the buck.
  2. Be Reliable: Nobody follows someone they don’t trust, so do what you say you will do and build a strong relationship with the project team.
  3. Be Resourceful: Every project has different constraints, but you must think creatively and freshly to pull it through difficult times to a successful end.
  4. Follow-Up: You need to not merely give orders, but manage that process, which means following up to see if there are any issues.
  5. Follow-Through: If there are issues, then it’s your responsibility to resolve them, not just give them lip service.

That means a project management consultant must have answers, and be able to do any number of things to deliver those solutions, such as:

  1. Solve Problems: Any project generates problems; the valuable consultant is one who can provide practical solutions.
  2. Frame Issues: It’s important to put these problems in context, whether a historical precedent or just how it impacts other aspects of the work.
  3. Facilitate Creativity: You’re not only coming up with solutions, but helping the project team work creatively to come up with solutions, too.
  4. Ask Questions: No one has all the answers, and a smart consultant is one who knows when they’re outside their sphere of knowledge and isn’t afraid to ask questions.
  5. Provide Options: As you gather information, provide a set of solutions, then the project team and you can figure out which is the most viable.
  6. Generate Solutions: It might be your decision then to decide on which course of action is best and lead the troops to rally around this decision.
  7. Recommend Tools: PM Consultants often recommend new project management software solutions to support the processes and methods they’re recommending.

Finally, Jennifer said there will be a series of expectations foisted on you. It’s important that you’re prepared for them. Here are some:

  • Be prepared for all calls and meetings
  • Show up on time
  • Follow-up on calls and meetings
  • Follow-through on commitments
  • Do what you say you’re going to do
  • Add value to the project
  • Nurture relationships with people on all tiers of the project team

Being a project management consultant is a critical role, and the better you prepare for it, the more value you’ll provide to the project.

Pro-Tip: Working as a project management consultant can be a great way to improve your career. It offers you a way to reignite your passion, expand your network and invest in yourself, among other things.

Thanks for watching!

Transcription:

Today, we’re talking about how to be a project management consultant. And before we start, I wanna define what a consultant does. So profoundly, a consultant consults. So what does that mean? They provide guidance, solutions, and strategies.

In order to be able to do that, they need certain things, like they need skills…certain skills, experience, expertise, training, and in some instances, specific certifications in order to provide this as a consultant.

And as a consultant, you need to be accountable, reliable, resourceful, be able to follow up, and follow through. You also need to be able to solve problems, be able to frame the issue and the problem that you’re working on. You need to be able to facilitate creativity, ask probing questions, provide options, and ultimately, again, generate solutions.

So there’s certain expectations for consultants. For instance, if you are a consultant and you show up on an engagement for a client, you need to be able to prepare for all calls and meetings before you get there, you start. You need to show up on time and follow up on calls and meetings, be able to follow up on commitments that you make, and do what you say you’re going to do.

That is a big one. Provide value. That’s what consultants are hired for is to bring value to the problem, the project, or the engagement. And then also, nurture the relationships between the client, maybe if there’s a team working with you, and even any third parties that you’re working with.

So these are some of the things valuable as a consultant, and if you need a tool that can help you as a project management consultant, then sign up for our software now at projectmanager.com.

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