A consultant’s only asset with any long-term value is reputation.
Technologies fall out of favour. Business Processes evolve. Companies are bought and sold. Ultimately, the only asset that a consultant has is their reputation and ethics. Many consultants (and consulting organizations) forget this and focus on the short-term value of inflated billing, placing inexperienced consultants, under-bidding and then running over budget, working on poorly considered client projects, etc. While this short-term approach may be financially profitable, it results in unhappy clients, a bad “street cred” and can ultimately lead to the ruin of the consulting organization or even the client companies.
Communication is at the heart of every successful project
A team that doesn’t communicate well internally, with the customer and with the vendors will fail. The project may be completed, but the results will be less than optimal, the project will be more expensive than required and the ongoing support costs will ultimately be higher. Clients, Management, Vendors and the direct project team need to function as a unified whole to ensure success.
Technology has no inherent value
The only value that technology has is in how it can bring value to the business. Implementing technology for the sake of technology is not only a waste of time and money, but can ultimately be detrimental to the business. Some companies don’t need a web site. Many organizations don’t need to engage in eCommerce. Implementing a multi-million dollar ERP system for a company with $500K worth of revenues isn’t going to magically drop them into the Fortune-50. Regardless of what the “other guys” are doing, your projected ROI (return on investment) should be the main driver behind any new technology initiative.
ROI (Return on Investment) doesn’t always mean direct revenue or cost savings
Your “return” on a project is nothing more or less than “business value”. Laying the groundwork to be able to exploit future opportunities, increasing your organizational agility, improving employee or customer satisfaction are all incredibly valuable to sustaining and growing your business. Many companies destroy their agility and their own futures by not quantifying these “soft benefits” or considering them as important as the hard dollars.
Nobody ever knowingly makes a wrong decision
This statement replaces the traditional “The Customer is Always Right”. If there are two diametrically opposed approaches, chances are that somebody is working with incomplete assumptions or data. By acknowledging that nobody knowingly makes a wrong decision, open communication of the relevant information can uncover where the disconnect has occurred.
If it’s not measured, it’s not managed
Project Management is a science and not an art. Deliverables should be objective, quantified (or at least enumerated in some way) and tracked. If an objective is not measurable, it can’t be tracked or monitored. If it can’t be monitored, it certainly can’t be managed. In many cases, Project Managers encounter deliverables that they feel can’t be objectively measured. If that’s the case, then the deliverable needs to be broken down or redefined to provide a clear set of exit or acceptance criteria. Committments need to be either time-based or event driven. “Whenever” often becomes “Never” or results in a last minute rush with predictably poor results.
Costs should not exceed the expected benefits
A client should clearly understand the benefits of the project, the projected value of these benefits to the organization and the costs of implementation, training and long-term support. If the costs exceed the potential benefits (direct and indirect), the project needs to be restructured or abandoned. Implementing a solution simply for prestige, empire building or billing purposes is irresponsible and unethical and can lead to disastrous long-term results.
Excessive analysis/planning/requirements definition, etc. are as crippling as no analysis/planning/requirements definition.
Most people and organizations are familiar with “Analysis Paralysis”, the inability to make a decision without analyzing every tiny detail, facet, risk, etc. to the exclusion of any real work. The new trend is a form of “Methodology Fundamentalism”, the tendency of an organization to adopt a methodology word-for-word rather than applying it appropriately for the tasks/project at hand. It’s important for everyone to understand the steps and the processes required to manage a project, but it’s equally important to know when the effort required to carry out a task outweighs the benefits. When a team can communicate effectively, there is a natural tendency to want to work using a cascaded development approach. A linear approach is appropriate for some projects, but where a cascade approach is applicable, accepting and embracing it up-front will make for a much more efficient and predictable project.
People shouldn’t be “shoe-horned” into roles as a client “make work” effort or in an attempt to increase billing.
Everyone has their own expertise, knowledge-base, interests and abilities. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to understand where the strengths and interests of each team member lie. Furthermore, it is the PMs responsibility to ensure that everyone is engaged to the best of their abilities and with the best long-term outlook possible. Using resources inappropriately wastes everyone’s time and effort.
Ongoing Documentation is essential
Everyone should be working with the ultimate goal of becoming redundant. It takes very little effort to document throughout the project and revise the documentation as necessary. However, it can be an overwhelming or impossible task to document retroactively.