Last Updated on February 19, 2021 by Mandy Schmitz
Ready to Take the Leap? As this article’s caption reads, you must be considering taking the leap and become a project management consultant if you’re reading this. This means you have already established that project management is a good fit for you personally.
As a project management and online marketing consultant myself, I know that companies across industries understand that project management is vital for their businesses. Your project management consultant services can help information technology, software, biotech, financial, pharmaceutical, and other businesses succeed by streamlining their projects to meet organizational profitability growth and objectives.
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How to become a Project Management Consultant?
Well, you must be aware that you have more to do when you are starting your consultant business than just registering it with the state. With this definitive guide, I will walk you through how to start your project management consultancy. In the end, you will know how to plan out your business, register it properly, make it legally compliant, plus get all my first-hand knowledge you need to succeed.
Here is how you become a project management consultant in 9 easy steps:
1. Plan Your PM Consultant Business
As an entrepreneur, you need a clear plan. And with your plan, you can discover some unknowns and map out your business’s specifics. You may want to consider:
- Your business name
- Which services exactly you are going to offer
- Rates for these different services
- Your target market
- Startup and ongoing cost of your business
2. Form a Legal Entity
Corporation, Limited Liability Company, LLC, partnership, and sole proprietorship are among the most common business structure types. Suppose someone or a business sues your project management consulting business. In that case, you will get protection from being held personally liable when you establish a legal business entity like a corporation or LLC.
3. Get Your Tax Registration
Before starting your business, you must register for some federal and state taxes. Since it is free and easy, you can apply for an EIN to register for taxes. Depending on your choice of business structure, your business will be taxed with different options. Understand that certain state taxes might apply to your business.
4. Get a Business Bank Account and Credit Card
Crucial for personal asset protection is using dedicated business banking and credit accounts. You can put your personal assets like car, home, and other valuables at risk if your business is sued when you mix your business and personal accounts. You will benefit from higher credit lines, better interest rates, and more when you know how building business credit can help you get credit cards and other financings in your business’s name.
5. Create Business Accounting
If you need to understand your business’s financial performance, you must record your various income and expenses sources. You can also simplify your annual tax filing when you keep detailed and accurate accounts.
6. Get Essential Licenses and Permits
You can cause your business to be shut down or be in hefty fines if you fail to obtain vital licenses and permits. As such, don’t skip this step. Your project management consultant business may need certain state licenses and permits to operate.
7. Obtain Business Insurance
Regarding permits and licenses, you need insurance for your consultant business to operate lawfully and safely. In the event of any covered loss, business insurance will protect your company’s financial wellbeing. There are many insurance policies developed for different types of businesses with different risks. Start with General Liability Insurance if you are not sure of the risks your business may face.
8. Define Your Brand
Your company stands for your brand and how the public perceives it. Thus, you can stand out from the pack when you have a strong brand. Use direct mail, email marketing, website advertising, local pay-per-click advertising, and networking to locally promote your consultant business. Then, work on referrals when you start getting your first few clients.
9. Establish Your Presence Online
Customers can know more about your business and the products and services you offer through your business website. Other ways you can use to establish your presence online are social media and press releases.
What is a Project Management Consultant?
A project management consultant is a business practice or professional individual who offers expert advice to other people or businesses. A consultant also offers professional project management recommendations to external organizations. When there is a need for an impartial, external party for project management advice or a project management professional’s need, a business can hire a project management consultant.
How to Define the Scope of a Consulting Project
Your consulting business needs to define how it executes a project through specific timelines, deliverables, activities, and tasks using a Statement of Work, SOW. An SOW also offers critical legal protection for you and your client. A Statement of Work is essential for small businesses even though many people believe that SOWs are for large-company projects. Since you will be completing projects for a specific price and in a specific time frame, you will find SOWs helpful.
The foundation of any client-contractor relationship starts with an SOW. With this document, you can outline payment terms, get guidelines for measuring performance against project goals, and set and determine boundaries. Your business can prevent misunderstandings and ambiguity down the road and develop a positive start to your working relationship with a client using an SOW.
What Does a Project Management Consultant Do?
As a project management consultant, you must ensure that risks have appropriate contingency and mitigation plans as the risk management leader in a project management team. You must also ensure alignment on project deliverables and goals while consulting and leading the client, team, individual and other resources connected to project activity.
A project management consultant must also:
- Serve as the organization project advocate while developing and maintaining a high-performing team.
- Establish project objectives and ensure they align with overall project strategy
- Control, schedule, and plan activities to fulfill identified objectives by applying managerial, theoretical, and technical skills to satisfy project requirements.
- Defined necessary assumptions, requirements, and objectives to structure projects.
- Create positive professional relationships with associates and clients by leading the project team effectively and integrating self into the client environment.
- Ensure that all project documentation is conveyed and updated to relevant stakeholders on time.
- Coordinate performing and functional perspectives from outside or within project teams.
- Ensure the project is on track by conducting post-project and periodic reviews.
- Provide guidance and allocate work among team members regularly.
- Ensure costs, schedule, and scope are achievable and reasonable.
- Manage projects and relevant specific activities within given constraints of quality, budget, and time.
A project management consultant brings specialized knowledge and skills to help organizations make the best possible business decisions. Managing relationships, resources, and budgets to achieve organizational objectives are some of their daily tasks. They also ensure projects’ timely completion by executing, developing, and planning schedules.
Why Use a Project Management Consultant?
Businesses hire a qualified project management consultant to oversee their entire project from start to finish as a trusted partner and stop stressing over their next project. Organizations can take a project’s complexity and stress off their shoulders by hiring a qualified project management consulting company to get better results. They can reap the benefit of a project with a reduced schedule, cost, and risk. Businesses can consider some of these benefits when they want better results for their next projects.
Acting as your business partner, a qualified project management consultant will keep, guide, and assist you through your project duration. While the PM focuses on the project, you can focus on your core business since the PM has freed up your time.
There is a potential of taking on additional responsibilities outside your expertise without a PM. Apart from working alongside you as a partner and acting as your organization’s extension, a project management consultant will also handle those additional responsibilities. With this, companies can leverage the PM’s knowledge, understanding, and experience for a successful project.
3. Cost- and Time-Savings
Well-performing PMs can handle a project’s difficulties and pressure while finding cost-and time-saving solutions so companies can focus on running their business.
A project management consultant will coordinate all consultants and ensure that they are working toward the project goals. From specialty vendors to general contractors, engineers, and architects, more than 20 different consultants can partake in projects and operate under the tightest of time constraints.
5. Minimize Risk
A project management consultant works with organizations to implement and define project strategies based on their experience. With that, they can clearly define project expectations while offering ownership with protection.
6. Avoid Mistakes
With a PM’s relevant and recent experience, an organization can change orders that frequently happen or minimize costly mistakes when they don’t attempt to manage a project independently.
With their years of professional experience, a project management consultant can learn from similar projects to apply them to your project. A PM will recommend cost-saving techniques, prevent typical project mistakes, and complete projects at competitive prices using experienced vendors.
How to Become a Project Manager?
You must have a bachelor’s degree in business administration or another relevant field and project management experience to become a project management consultant. To become eligible for career advancement, you will need to earn an advanced degree, and you may need a master’s degree to work with some employers. Problem-solving skills and strong interpersonal skills are some additional qualifications. You can obtain optional certification like the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation or the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification to demonstrate your expertise and skills.
Prerequisites for Becoming a Project Management Consultant
It is crucial to be highly trained and educated to be a project management consultant. A bachelor’s degree in a major relevant field like technical science or business administration is the minimum education for a management consultant. Problem-solving experience, demonstrated management, on-the-job training, and an advanced degree are essential for advancement.
There could be a need for graduate education for consultants like a Master of Business Administration, MBA, by some employers. Potential consultants can generate, organize, and strategize solutions in a complex global business environment through graduate programs. Coursework can explore management, marketing, negotiations, leadership, finance, and business ethics.
Career Information for Project Management Consultants
Businesses contract project management consultants to complete projects related to financial and strategic planning. These projects have operational objectives and goals in many fields like security, healthcare, information systems, human resources, marketing, finance, engineering, and technology. Businesses may also get expert technical recommendations from consultants. Foreign countries, universities, government agencies, non-profits, and private corporations hire consultants. Project management consultants can work as self-employed independent contractors or work for consulting firms. Consultants who have the highest training and education degree are more likely to get work because of the field’s competitive nature.
Project Management Salary and Earnings Potential
In the US, employed project management consultants earn about $115,000 annually, as PMI’s salary survey of 2017 indicates. About $140,000 falls on the upper quarterly earnings, while $90,000 is the lower quarterly earnings. Employment opportunity and salary potential are some of the numerous factors that will determine individual salary, including local market conditions, company and team size, educational qualifications, and work experience.
Pros and Cons of Working as a Project Management Consultant
There is a difference between being a project management consultant within an organization and coming in as an independent consultant. Your external or internal status in the organization will determine how much control you have over the project outcomes, how the top management treats you, how much superficial or real respect you get, and how others respond, reach, or view you.
There is an exclusive set of challenges when you are hired as a project management consultant. Your demonstration and possession of the ability to manage projects have earned you the position. As such, you will need to adjust to your client organization, which can take you time to achieve. Here are the pros and cons of working as a project management consultant.
As a consultant, you are assigned to work on diverse projects with different clients. Therefore, you may not need to put forth much effort to widen your network. When you nurture your network properly, it can lead to lasting friendships, better employment, and more opportunities.
The summary of your responsibility as a consultant is like a typical individual who helps businesses to improve their profits and efficiency. The focus of competition analyses, market segmentation, and research studies are on business growth, which translates to helping thousands of employees. Apart from giving you noble aspirations as a consultant, you can also enhance your knowledge since the job is highly intellectual.
You can sharpen your communication, organizational, and analytical skills through a project management consultant position’s responsibilities. Enhance your skills through extended experience by utilizing these capabilities. Even when you leave the company, you can still employ these enhanced skills in future positions.
The industry still keeps the incumbents and attracts recruits because of the five-digit salary. New graduates who get employment as a project management consultant collect a good salary, depending on the assigned responsibilities, the country, and the firm size. As a project management consultant, you can enjoy insurance, allowances, and other remunerations. Many job seekers see a package as this as an incentive in a time of economic crisis.
Other benefits include:
- Enjoying ‘expert’ status by others in the company because of the perceived expertise.
- Enjoying asking questions other permanent staff typically must avoid addressing as a project management consultant.
- Having an objective platform to consult on project methods, techniques, and processes without any career-limiting moves.
As a project management consultant, the heavy workload, analyses, and research can stress you. You will also deal with difficult teammates and chaotic management frequently. And due to differences in personalities and perspectives, it can be quite challenging to get along for consulting team members.
Lack of Family Time
Since you spend a lot of time traveling and working as a consultant, you may need to sacrifice time with your family. You will discover that your kids are already asleep, and they have finished dinner by the time you come home. A Typical occurrence is missing anniversaries, birthdays, and other family gatherings because of your job demands. Ultimately, you will need optimum discipline to manage your time.
As a potential project management consultant, you will think that traveling is a glamorous part of the management consulting profession. It will look exciting to you in the beginning. However, you will miss the comforts of home when you realize how much time you spend in hotels and on planes. Apart from the exhaustion that comes with traveling, you constantly need to adjust to diverse people, new culture, and new environment. Furthermore, since you are consumed with work, you have no time for sightseeing and leisure.
As a project management consultant, you have to work extensive hours because of your job nature, working for close to 80 hours a week. Client communication, focused group conferences, problem-solving, workshops, interviews, team and client meetings consume most of your time. Hence, you need to conduct evaluations and analysis by working long hours to comply with client’s demands expertly and timely. Anticipate about 60 working hours on average a week with top-tier management consulting firms even though working hours vary among firms.
Aspects to Consider for Your Project Management Consultant Services
It can take a huge step forward in professional and career life when starting as a project management consultant. Since it is not easy to take such a step, you need a lot of courage. As a potential consultant, you must be certain you are 100 percent ready for your new venture and have everything under control since it is such a critical leap.
Management consulting is about serving your clients and with your expertise.
As such, you need to be well-prepared before starting your project management consultant services:
Develop a Pricing Structure
Creating a pricing structure and trial and error may need some analysis to understand a given project duration. It would help if you considered some of these factors after establishing your prices:
- Your expertise and experience
- The costs an employer will cover, including retirement matching or health insurance
- Any external expenses or resources you will incur
- How much you must earn to make an income and support your business
- How much time you expect to invest in a set of tasks
- What is your industry standard
To estimate a new project duration, use a time-tracker or a pricing template if you are confused about overpricing or underpricing.
Define Template and Put Systems in Place
Develop systems for each project, so you won’t have to start over again. You may need the description of your services, a set of onboarding questions, a proposal template, or data-gathering forms you can send to potential clients. When you use these templates, you can:
- Maintain similar quality level from project to project
- Have a branded, coherent look for all forms and documents
- Work as efficiently as possible
Practice Your Talking Points
Your talking points need to be a concise, short description of how you do what you do. It is critical to gather these down to promote or pitch your consulting business. Though your talking points must address what you do, you must highlight why you are different from the competition. They must also emphasize the value you will bring to your clients.
Discover Your Niche
Never attempt to offer something to everyone. By applying your skill to a niche market that wants what you can offer, you will see that you are far more successful as a project management consultant. You can target a specific group of businesses or people for your services. You can achieve this by asking yourself:
- Who would benefit from your knowledge?
- What problems that only you can solve?
- What are your specialty areas?
- Which services is your geographic/industry area missing?
With networking, you can look for introductions that will advance your business, let potential clients know you, stay in touch with key personalities, and connect with others in your industry. Always find ways to connect with anyone you meet in a professional capacity.
Understand What Comes Next
Whether long and short, you need to plan for what comes next to be a more successful project management consultant. Before taking on your first client, plan on how you will handle the project. Get prepared and layout expectations and the timeline for the project when a client confirms it.
In order to become a successful project management consultant, you need a solid business plan, networking skills, and experience if you want to pursue a career in this field. Be confident in your decision and yourself. After all, everyone looks at you as an expert.
Though being a project management consultant can be the right business model for some people, others may not be suitable for it. It’s a very versatile profession for the right person that likes change and is constantly seeking new challenges.
Need assistance in setting up or running your projects? Then do not hesitate to contact us today.