I’ve been in the Project Delivery Consulting world for years now, and I’m always explaining it, so I thought I’d write it up here. It can get confusing, because others often give it a sexier name, like Management Consulting or Business Consulting or Solutions Consulting. But in the end, we’re all delivering projects.
So what is a Project Delivery Consultant? There’s two parts to the answer. The most obvious is the consulting. When you have a service to provide, you can provide it as a consultant or as an employee. Project delivery is a great field for consultants because the skills we use to deliver a new Marketing application are the same skills we can use to implement a new call center response process. As such, project delivery consultants can perform their role in many different industries across many different departments. We work at one client for a year, then move on to the next. All the while we’re adding to our skills set and experience, which provides great perspective and ability.
Clients hire us because they need shorter-term help (usually 3 to 18 months), and hiring a full-time employee wouldn’t make sense because of the actual cost of employment (salary, benefits, training, etc). Or we’re hired for a specific experience we’ve had, like implementing the newest technology or business process. But mostly we’re hired because we’re experts at Project Delivery; that’s all we do. And sometimes a client needs to reduce risk and gain the security that comes with bringing in an expert.
Project Delivery is harder to define than Consulting, though pretty straight-forward when you think about it, because it’s everywhere. All around us (in Corporate America anyway), projects are underway to build things, improve things, fix things, or prepare for future things. Anytime money is dedicated to those efforts, it’s a project.
All corporate spending falls into two categories: 1) run the business expenses, and 2) investment spend dollars. Projects fall into category 2. When a company builds something new, like a new website, the money comes from investment spend budgets. If they upgrade an existing warehouse management system, same thing. Making a Call Center more efficient, building a new payroll system, opening stores in new markets, and responding to new industry regulations are all investment spend projects. Those projects are led by project delivery professionals, many of whom are often consultants.
Project delivery professionals make sure the project delivers everything the business wants as accurately and efficiently as possible. They define the project goals, scope, schedule, budget, and approach. Along the way they track and manage resources, assign and complete tasks, build and maintain complex communication plans, and interact with potentially hundreds of others to help guide and deliver the work.
A typical project team may contain these roles:
Though the roles on a project team may each be well-defined and executed (hopefully), it’s accurate to say that project team members are often there to help others succeed. Core team members are rarely subject matter experts themselves. Instead, they bring together people from all around the organization to take advantage of whatever unique skills and experiences they can provide. For this reason, project delivery is an inherently social job.
Here are some of my thoughts on the social nature of project delivery.