As clients get more serious about hiring the best consultants, I am seeing a lot more emphasis placed on project and financial management instead of just the technical approach and technical qualifications. How should I play this?
You are not alone. It used to be that you could just explain your approach, that you were qualified and provide a list of references. Not any more. It seems in every recession, companies want to be sure you can manage your own affairs as well as theirs. They often want you to explain your staffing, quality, cost and schedule controls. They want to see something to assure them that you have business continuity and risk mitigation strategies in place, especially for larger and higher profile projects.
This is something you should be ready to provide to prospective clients. At a minimum, think about each of these practice and project management functions and how you do, could, or should manage them. Where will you go to acquire and train additional staff? How do you control costs? How are your project communication systems integrated into your project management systems? What mechanisms do you have to assure that your work activities are monitored for quality control and work products are quality assured? These do not have to be elaborate (for small projects or practices they won't be) but you need to have thought these through, if not implemented them.Tip:
Start with the basics: cost, quality, staffing, schedule and risk. What can you say about how you manage each of these in a typical project? What is the most likely, or most disruptive, thing that could happen to negatively affect your client? What systems do you have in place or procedures could you quickly implement to maintain the project to the standards to which you committed? Write these up and refine them over time.© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA