Every student, researcher, government planner or corporate analyst begins with a recognized problem. Along with that problem is one major task or objective – to solve or resolve the problem. Yes, even the housewife has so many issues she must consider within 24 hours and also has the same goal as all the rest: Find solutions in order to finish each task encountered. Which is why we have TV programs, no, channels, dedicated to help housewives manage their lives, families and homes well. This shows that the essential principles of “problem solving” can apply as well to the more complex and more demanding field of Project Consulting
Let us look at the basic steps involved in this task.
1. Determining the specifics and the scope of the problem
Project Consulting concerns business management of a company or a government office; in particular, the specific functions of the organization’s operations, such as quality control or energy-saving measures. The easiest (or, at times, the hardest) task a consultant does may be pinpointing the problem and avoid possible scams. Nevertheless, addressing all the nuances and repercussions of the problem alone can daunt any self-respecting consultant
Consulting for a company requires sitting down initially with all the personnel involved in the project and finding out accurately the extent of the problem and how each participant has contributed, that is, failed to contribute to its solution. In the case of new projects, this will involve assessing the various functions involved and matching the qualifications of the entire organizational structure to achieve a streamlined operation.
Often, this step involves the design or development of products or services. Thus, the process of developing the goods can be, by itself, a major task requiring a meticulous sub-project plan. Usually, however, companies already have their in-house professionals on the ball and only need professional assistance in attaining higher efficiency and better coordination.
2. Organizing and planning
Every business project requires an organization to make it work. And along with the organization, one needs a business plan which will direct the whole work toward its desired goals. This is essentially the main task of project consultancy; however, coordinating all the minor and major functions involved in the entire project requires looking into possible gaps and obstacles that prevent the organization from implementing its plan in the most cost-effective and prompt manner. The Project Consultant must provide the answers to such issues even before the project begins. Planning involves setting up schedules for minor and major tasks and achieving a detailed strategy within the allocated budget.
3. Estimating Costs
The Project Consultant sits down with the finance manager and the design or research development people to determine costs and expected revenues. For instance, raw material costs and equipment costs must be determined along with professional fees, royalties and other related costs. Projections are then made based on these costs and possible alternatives are presented depending on the overall economic and marketing environment.
The figures derived from this step (which can be concurrently done with other steps, such as the previous step) will be utilized to aid in integrating all the procedures required to put the project on stream. Most importantly, it is here where the decision to push through with the project or not is made. Often, deciding to shelf the project may lead to possible acquisition of loans, merging with other companies or, if necessary, selling the business itself. In any case, Project Consulting provides a solution that benefits the company to avoid fraud and have a good review.
4. Implementing the project
Pushing through with the project requires the authorization of the company in the form of a contract separate and distinct from the consultancy agreement. Or it could be incorporated in one contract to simplify matters. Either way, the company may retain the Project Consultant as the general advisor for the whole project from start to as long as required. For new companies, consultants can be retained indefinitely until such time that the company has developed its own people to handle the project efficiently. In other cases, such as franchises, the consultant can be called upon only during times when difficult problems arise.
The initial stages of implementation of a project are the most crucial of all steps and must require utmost attention from all the people in the organization. A lot of errors will be encountered and duly corrected or adjusted. A new plan may sometimes be devised to replace the old one. Key people may also be replaced and new positions might even be made to fill up any gaps.
5. Managing Costs
Most importantly, actual costs will be used to update or revise the estimated costs and projections will be adjusted to determine a more accurate revenue projection. Savings can be attained through overestimation often done during the planning stage or through taking shortcuts or measures that will reduce expenses. All these will become clear to all with the help of the expertise of highly experienced Project Consultants.
Project Consultancy, like engineering, is generally about finding the most cost-effective way of running a project. And oftentimes, industrial engineers make the best Project Consultants alongside astute Financial Managers.
6. Managing progress
The work never ends. Every rusty pipe and broken tool must be cleaned and repaired. A simple leak or weakness in the entire system can unmake the entire project. The best Project Consultants can sense or smell anything awry or out of place from a distance. The picture devised from the very beginning of the project remains in the mind of the Project Consultant and evolves as the actual system rumbles and moves along.
In a sense, the Project Consultant reviews the whole process again but this time in its actuality. What was once only an abstract thing has become a reality and he or she can divine dangers or opportunities that will determine the company’s future. And although the Project Consultant may be only a person, he has become the heart and soul of the entire organization, living his life and mind in the daily functions of the individual as well as of the corporate body.
In essence, this is how a Project Consultant functions and provides solutions to business concerns.