I run a small I.T. consultancy. We need to create a formal management structure for our projects, which are always small (one day up to a few weeks in duration). We don't need a full-time project manager, nor do we need a full-blown PMBOK methodology as might befit larger projects. What we need is a solid structure that someone can follow a couple hours a day to keep things on track and stay in communication with our clients throughout. I'm considering hiring a project management consultant to help design our workflow. Since project management is not my personal strength, I'm not sure where to start. What do you suggest?
I've been managing projects for 15+ years for big organizations, small companies and my own personal projects. Based on the scope of your projects, it sounds like a single project manager could simultaneously manage multiple projects for you.
An important consideration is to find someone who's style of project management fits well with your goals, team, your company culture and your clients. For example, if your projects are smaller in scope, you don't need to put the same type of project management system in place that a multi-million dollar global system upgrade would require. You want to make sure that the project management layer helps get things done more effectively and efficiently, rather than just add another layer of administration and overhead.
One way to choose the right person for you, whether that person is intended to be an employee or consultant, would be to find 2-3 candidates, then ask each to develop a sample plan (or part of a sample plan if it's a big project), for the same project (or part of a project), then ask the project manager to walk you through the plan and how they would manage it. Doing this gives you an idea of each project manager's style and how it fits or doesn't fit with your goals, team, company culture and clients. I'd think expecting no more than an hour of work along these lines from potential candidate would be a reasonable request.
Hope that's helpful and happy to discuss further on a call!