Getting The Most From Your Consulting Dollars – Is The Meter Always Running?

I was recently speaking with one of my clients as we considered the remaining project timeline, compared to the period of performance for the current contract.

In a nutshell, when the initial contract was established it was anticipated that a Project Management resource would be needed on average 3 days per week through “at least” the end of the year.

Now that we are well into the project it is clear that it will be extended into the new year.

My client suggested something to the effect of: “We’re going to need to extend your contract as we get closer to the end of the year.

I had to remind her that just because I’m onsite does NOT mean the meter is running. And, the result is that while we anticipated a run rate of about 3 days per week (and budgeted accordingly) the necessary run rate has been a bit less. As such, we are running under budget and therefore the current contract / budget will carry us beyond the end of the year.

My client was obviously very pleased with this situation!

But how can this be (considering the engagement model of the typical contract / consulting firm)?

That is, when engaging many contract / consulting firms you will find that the meter is running every minute these resources are onsite. This, whether or not they are delivering “real” value.

Not so at Customer Centricity.

The reality is that, while the majority of time contract / consulting resources are fully delivering value, there will ALWAYS be some level of downtime at some point during a project’s lifecycle. This could result from:

  • Key team-members being unavailable (in a meeting, training or on vacation)
  • The project is at a pause awaiting phase-gate or other approval
  • Project team-members are “firing on all cylinders” and there simply isn’t an immediate need for the Project Manager to spend time chasing down updates
  • Myriad other scenarios

Instead of inventing busy work and billing our clients we use this downtime to turn off the meter and attend to other matters. All the while, maintaining an eagle’s eye on the project we are managing.

In closing, when you are discussing the level of engagement with a contract / consulting resource, ask them how they handle downtime, while they are onsite. That is, will the meter continue running, or will they hit the pause button when appropriate?

Another important point to consider when engaging contract / consulting resources.

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