After the firm has explained how this process works, ask for proof of its application and its flexibility to meet your specific
needs. Look at reports from past projects, especially any that closely resemble your own. Do the steps taken follow the purported
business process? What comments about results and overall performance did past or existing clients make?
Key Proficiency Measurements. Project management service providers should offer a standardized set of metrics. In a scientific environment, it can be
challenging to produce baseline measures of the most common project management variables — scope, budget, and schedule — but
it can be done. Several other factors are important to consider when assessing the cost of services and the value of achieving
specific goals, including:
- Return on investment (cost savings, cost avoidance, revenue generation)
- Value of early or on-time completion
- Quality and timely communication with stakeholders
- Resource utilization and optimization
- Team management
- Measuring and reporting internal customer satisfaction
- Cultural impact.
Self-audit Process. Ask how quality of the service is controlled. The best firms audit and improve their own business practices. Feedback helps
a company improve and create more value for the next project. Progressive firms capture "lessons learned" and apply them to
their process. It goes without saying that the firm you select should be dedicated to developing and maintaining best practices.
Business Strategy. Any firm providing project management services ought to have an outstanding business plan of its own. Ask each firm to share
the highlights of its strategic and annual plans. Ask how performance is measured. Make them prove that their own plan is
applied to deliver results. If they can't do that, move on.
Cost vs Value. Rates from different service providers can be deceiving. Ask exactly what the hourly rate includes. In some cases, firms
offer what may seem to be relatively low rates, but, in reality, you will be billed for additional charges for administration
services and other hard or soft costs. Be sure to get all of the details up front.
Compare the full package of what each firm is providing, including both the tangible and intangible measures of success and
the caliber of the firm's processes. You should hit the targeted budget and timeline and see the hard-dollar return on your
investment, but you should also consider the value of improvements in communication — the fact that all team members have
a detailed understanding of their responsibilities and progress is regularly documented. Beyond simply improving communication,
the firm's facilitation and other practices will have a long-term impact on your culture and how future projects are managed.
In other words, fees should be viewed in relation to the ultimate value that project management services will contribute to
your business. Professional project management helped a leading biopharm company avoid a seven-month delay on a highly critical
project, get their drug to market on time, and realize $77 million in additional earnings. In this case, the value of the
services was worth far more than their cost.
RETAINING THE RELATIONSHIP
After you have engaged a provider, lived with the service, and are satisfied with its value, you want to retain this advantage.
Frankly, few companies emphasize retention of their outsourced partners. Most believe it is sufficient to consider the partner
for additional engagements without any real commitment. Unfortunately, these same companies often expect to receive special
treatment when they have a pressing, high-priority project. They see the relationship as merely a buyer-supplier arrangement.
However, most high performers want more than a paycheck. They want the recognition and security that comes from customer commitment
to partnership building. The following factors are key to building that relationship.
Build and Maintain Trust. Relationships require individuals who trust each other and who are truly interested in mutual success. Relationships are
about challenging each other to improve and grow, to learn from mistakes, and to make work an enjoyable social and personal
endeavor. It is no secret that the greatest accomplishments occur when people who trust and respect each other come together
for a common cause; they work harder, they work smarter, and they have more fun.