The Legal and Management Consulting industry is unique in how it delivers value to its clients. Unlike other more conventional industries, our clients bring to us a problem that they need our expertise to help them resolve. If they had a clear picture or understanding of the outcome and the steps needed to get there, then they would not be bringing it to us, they would simply handle it internally as they do with other aspects of their business.
By definition then, we deal with and manage client uncertainty. We apply our knowledge and expertise in resolving our client’s problem, be it a contract claim or a change in management processes. While doing so we often apply our firm’s wider knowledge and capability to address all the aspects impacting our clients issue. Sometimes the issues and solutions we bring have not even occurred to our clients let alone formed part of the original scope of work.
As an industry, however, we have to be honest relied on the end value we deliver and have not really focussed on being efficient in how we get there. Our clients are since the GFC driving for high value at lower costs which has driven many of you into a commodity pricing war but without the internal means of maintaining profits. Or worst still you are missing out on the opportunity to deliver the value you know you can because the client is basing decisions on tendered man-hours alone.
In such an environment, it is logical to look outside your industry for solutions to readdress the balance and move back to a profit growth environment. Many of you are looking at project management as the means of delivering this change.
Being a professional services firm with considerable experience in project management approaches we can affirm this approach. However, the path is not golden as the vast majority of project management solutions and approaches have not been developed to deal with the level of uncertainty that is the foundation of our industry.
Many project management solutions are derived from heavy industry or manufacturing and are simply not geared towards delivering what you need to move you into a more efficient operating mode and into a value rather than commodity model.
One of the greatest risk you face if you do not approach this correctly, is that you drive the unique capability of your high achieving professional team into being a commodity. We see this across the engineering industry, in that project process has driven expertise into a faceless cheap conveyor belt of production.
The key however, very much lies in your expert team. Project management needs to be viewed as the means to enable them to generate even more individual value not less. Project management should enable you to expand to greater levels of client value, not just a means of reducing operating costs and making current methods more efficient.
So the primary questions you must ask in addressing any project management solution is: