Key Differences Between Staffing and Consulting Firms In Serving Project Management Offices

PMO consultant in blue shirt with laptop

In the realm of project management, two types of firms often emerge as partners for organizations seeking to enhance their Project Management Office (PMO) capabilities: PMO staffing firms and PMO consulting firms. While both types of firms cater to project management needs, they offer distinct services and fulfill different roles in an organization's journey towards project management excellence. Understanding the differences between staffing and consulting firms is crucial in selecting the right partner for project management needs.

Staffing Firms

PMO staffing firms specialize in providing organizations with the right talent to fill specific project management roles within their PMOs. They act as a bridge between a client’s HR recruiting arm and organizations seeking individuals with the skills and experience to meet those needs. One of the differences between staffing and consulting firms is that staffing firms focus primarily on recruitment and placement.

Key Characteristics of PMO Staffing Firms:

1.) Recruitment and Placement: PMO staffing firms focus on sourcing, vetting, and placing candidates in project management positions.

2.) Talent Acquisition Expertise: These firms identify and recruit candidates, matching skills and experience with the requirements of client organizations.

3.) Flexible Staffing Solutions: Staffing firms offer temporary, contract, or permanent placement options.

Consulting Firms

PMO consulting firms offer a broader scope of services, extending beyond staffing to provide strategic guidance and consulting expertise for enhancing an organization's project management capabilities. They serve as advisors and partners in optimizing PMOs and aligning project management practices with organizational goals. Another difference between staffing and consulting firms is the consulting firm's focus on strategic guidance and organizational improvement through expert consulting and advisory services.

Key Characteristics of PMO Consulting Firms:

1.) Consulting and Advisory Services: PMO consulting firms provide expert advice and guidance to organizations seeking to establish, optimize, or enhance their PMOs and project management practices. They bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in project management methodologies, tools, and best practices.

2.) Expertise-Driven Process Improvement: These firms leverage the expertise of seasoned project management professionals to assess and improve project management processes, methodologies, and overall PMO performance. They identify areas for improvement and recommend tailored solutions to enhance project success rates.

3.) Project-Based Engagement: PMO consulting firms typically engage in project-based assignments with a defined scope and duration. They conduct comprehensive assessments of the client's current PMO, recommend strategic improvements, and may assist in implementing changes and new processes.

4.) Our Employees Work for You: PMO consultants work full-time on client projects as full-time employees of their consulting firm, enjoying benefits such as structured performance management, competitive compensation packages, sponsorships for continuing education, and career growth opportunities. These benefits are handled by the consulting firm, providing clients with high quality talent that is sufficiently supported without expending additional client resources.

5.) Strategic and Process-Oriented Approach: PMO consulting firms focus on providing strategic guidance, process improvement, and change management support to enhance an organization's project management capabilities. They help organizations align their project management practices with their strategic goals and objectives.

6.) Client-Centric with an Emphasis on Organizational Improvement: Their primary goal is to provide holistic solutions that not only address immediate project management challenges but also contribute to the overall project management maturity of the organization. They aim to create a sustainable impact on the organization's project management capabilities.

7.) Talent Development, Management, and Oversight: PMO consulting firms foster consultant development through ongoing training, mentorship programs, and opportunities to engage in diverse projects, ensuring their expertise remains current and aligned with industry standards. They implement robust performance management systems to monitor consultant progress, provide regular feedback, and address any performance gaps, upholding a high standard of quality and client satisfaction.

8.) Consistency for Project Delivery throughout Entire Project Lifecycle: Compared to contract staffing solutions which are generally short term, consulting firms provide consistent delivery even when projects span 3-5 years.

Making the Choice that's Right For You

The decision between engaging a PMO staffing firm or a PMO consulting firm depends on the specific needs of the organization. If the primary need is to fill project management positions with qualified individuals, a PMO staffing firm is the ideal partner. However, if the organization seeks strategic guidance, process improvement, or overall enhancement of its project management capabilities, a PMO consulting firm may be a more ideal option.

In many cases, organizations may benefit from the services of both types of firms. PMO staffing firms can provide the necessary talent to execute projects effectively, while PMO consulting firms can help optimize project management processes and align them with organizational goals. The combination of staffing and consulting services can create a synergistic effect, leading to improved project outcomes and enhanced project management maturity. As a part of The Planet Group, we can also provide our organizations with staffing support in addition to our consultative support across myriad industries.

PFES: Your Strategic Partner for Project Management Excellence

PFES is one of the world’s premier providers of strategic consulting services for clients with diverse projects in the Power Generation, Power Delivery, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, and Infrastructure sectors.

Our execution platform offers innovative EPCM (Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management), Program & Project Management, Project Controls, Business Intelligence (BI), Owner’s Engineering, Business Strategy & Transformation, and Policy & Regulatory solutions to utilities, energy companies, municipalities, and industrial clients around the world.

PFES is the definitive choice for organizations committed to program and project excellence. With decades of direct industry experience behind us, our project teams welcome our clients’ employees as members of the team whenever possible to provide legacy project knowledge and streamline site integration. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

by John Brown, Sr. Director, Business Development, PFES

June 5, 2024
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