Tuesday, March 13, 2018

8 Benefits of working with an external project recovery consultant

Often people ask me why they should hire an external consultant to help them with a troubled project. The most heard arguments are. "He/she does not know our organisation, our way of working, our project, etc. While this is mostly true there are a number of benefits that can tip the scale in favour of working with an external consultant on a project recovery. Here are eight of them:

1) The project recovery consultant brings in a set of skills missing from the organization. These skills could be in managing certain risk, managing change, working with remote and/or outsourced teams, handling demoralized teams, rectifying problems in the management chain, software development processes, or managing the customer.

2) The consultant brings in experience with troubled projects, project recovery and ideally with projects of a similar type. In my case for example, I only work on software development, financial modeling and system migration projects because that is what I deeply understand and have lot's of experience with.

3) The consultant is new to the group and brings a fresh set of ideas and views to the project.

4) It is common for consultants to get the ear of executives simply by virtue of the fact that they are from outside. Ideas they propose may be similar to those offered by the project team in the past, but management listens to them without significant questions. This is the result of the psychology of having a consultant make the statement, as well as the benefit derived from the honeymoon period that accompanies any new relationship. Regardless of the reason, management tends to adopt consultants’ suggestions more quickly.

5) Consultants have no history with the team—there is nothing preconceived about the project or the people. They can be objective and review the staff and the processes without the bias of familiarity with people’s personalities and previous actions.

6) Team members also tend to be more open with a consultant than with other team members. They open up to an outsider because they feel their comments are less likely to be judged or biased. Team members with a history of being quiet can become vocal, as they now feel their views will be heard. As a result, a consultant can uncover issues hidden to others in the organization.

7) Most recovery projects require that difficult decisions be made and executed. This might include reducing scope, cancelling contracts, or removing team members. Often these actions result in lingering animosity. By using a consultant with a relatively short tenure, many of these negative feelings leave with that person. This can help diffuse some contentious situations.

8) In the negotiation step, the project recovery manager mediates the solution for both sides. If this person is an outside party, neither the customer nor the supplier should perceive any bias. The recovery manager can propose a solution without the perception that he or she is trying to gain some tactical advantage or get the upper hand. The negotiation is fair and even.


Selecting the right consultant can bring an entirely new set of ideas and skills to the organization. These include prior project recovery experience, objectivity, new processes, new procedures, and attention to detail.

If the project has a technical component, the recovery manager should have a strong technical background so that he or she can talk with the technical team on its own level, gaining trust as someone who understands the challenges. This must be coupled with an independent critical eye questioning the direction. Many aspects of technology development can contribute or even cause trouble on a project.

A recovery manager grounded in accepted best practices as well as the latest in technological advances, tools, and methodologies is invaluable in determining where problems may manifest themselves.
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 by Henrico Dolfing