Technical Pathways
Tip Sheets

Enterprise Project
Management Videos

A Bridge to Enterprise Project Management, Part 1


Contract Project Management Services

Contracting a project management professional to manage a project offers advantages in leadership, experience and cost savings.  Yet some projects are better candidates for contract project management than others.  These four questions can determine whether contracted consulting management is right for a project.

  1. Is the project similar to other projects in the organization?
    One-time projects such as compliance projects, special projects and fast-track projects are candidates for contracted project management.  Contract consulting can also support new project similar to others during temporary increases in demand.
  2. What is the length of the contract?  
    Projects with 314 month durations are the norm.  Shorter projects, when contracted, generally require a specialist who can provide the technical skills if not always the project management skills.  Longer projects risk reclassification by the tax authorities as employment unless the consultant works on other projects for other organizations during that time.
  3. Will project require significant maintenance? 
    The lower the maintenance requirements, the higher a project's potential for contracting leadership.  High maintenance projects require in-house or specialist support which needs to b established during the project's development independent of whether its leadership is contracted or in-house.
  4. Is the project manager expected to lead the project, have specialized skills, or both?
    The line between a project manager, who leads the project, and a lead developer, who leads the development is not always clear.  The former requires leadership, organizing, teambuilding and communications skills where the latter depends on technical ability.  It is rare to find individuals with both skills and technical projects in particular benefit from addressing project leadership and technical leadership separately.

Organizations, meanwhile, can expect for the following benefits from contract consulting:

    • Experience
      Contract project managers bring with them experience from a variety of projects and organizations. 
    • Objectivity
      A low personal agenda and lessons learned from outside the box provide contract project managers with perspectives unencumbered by office politics.
    • Schedule Management
      Building, maintaining, and managing schedules, are standard project management practices for contract project managers. 
    • Cost Management
      Project managers use cost management to predict time to complete, cost to complete and how productivity tracks with schedules and expenditures.  Estimating, budgeting, allocating, analyzing and reporting are all in the day's work.
    • Leadership and Communications
      Professional project managers are experienced at leadership without line authority, well-versed in written and verbal communications.

Generally, a one-time, 3-14 month, low-maintenance project is a prime candidate for contract project management, as are short-term increases in demand.  Project leadership and technical leadership gain from separate leads.  The contract project management decision typically rests on combining the qualities listed above with projects suited for contract consulting.

Technical Pathways for information about contract project management. 
Optionally, include a project description and list of qualifications.

Privacy policy: Use of e-mail addresses is limited to correspondence about the topic of inquiry.

© Technical Pathways 1995-2009, All rights reserved.