What is project consulting all about?
Project-based work is a viable career alternative for professionals at all levels. If you are seeking greater control over your career, better balance between personal and professional demands, and projects more suited to your talents and interests, then a consulting career may be right for you. You have the opportunity to manage a project individually or work as part of a team solution.
Becoming a project professional is rapidly increasing in popularity. Many top professionals have chosen to become a project professional for a variety of reasons including:
- the desire to work on projects and not focus on predictable cycles of typical accounting or finance roles
- the desire to continuously work in different environments (industries, systems etc.) and be exposed to different individuals providing the building to “skill build” at an accelerated rate
- provides flexibility and a more manageable work-life balance
What are the major differences between a project engagement and a permanent position?
In order to understand if a career as a project professional is right for you let’s review the following points:
- You typically must be available to start a project within 48 hours of being chosen for the role.
- You must be committed to the initial time commitment required, for example five months (It is not appropriate to give several weeks’ notice in the middle of project).
In today’s environment clients are demanding professionals with specific skills. Professionals with general skills or skills that are not in local demand may not be very marketable, and it may be more difficult to find the right job. On a project engagement you should have a positive impact on the situation within the first week. Strong project professionals are very IT savvy and typically can quickly adapt to almost any systems environment. Many projects involve difficult situations, environments and personalities. A successful project professional has the ability to navigate these challenges. A project professional’s income can vary significantly depending on their engagements and the marketability of their skills.
What kinds of project engagements are in demand?
Business process improvement – Consultants can assist companies with change management initiatives, from accounting process design to measuring performance against meaningful benchmarks.
Tax initiatives - Businesses frequently engage project professionals for tax compliance, strategic planning and research. Consultants also offer expertise in the areas of property, sales and use, and real estate tax as well as transfer pricing, planning and compliance.
Systems implementation and integration – Enterprise resource planning and financial systems experts can manage the overall process from evaluating and selecting the new software to final implementation, integration and staff training. They can also provide senior-level support while internal personnel are directly involved with implementation activities.
Mergers and acquisitions – In addition to directing financial analysts on due diligence, a senior project professional with merger and acquisition experience can serve as an on-site advisor and manage a transition team when closing, opening or integrating operations. This may involve direct consolidation or expansion of staff and disposition of assets.
International business expansion - International finance experts can offer specialized and extensive experience on global policies, procedures and regulations – reducing the learning curve for companies expanding to overseas markets.
Transitional management – During times of transition, consultants can help with infrastructure development and the centralization/decentralization of accounting departments or functions. They can also fill in during an executive absence, extended leave or illness, or while a search is being conducted for a full-time candidate.
Crisis management - Experts in this area can assist with cash management and forecasting, credit management and analysis, and strategic planning. Consultants can also provide expertise on highly sensitive issues such as divestitures, turnaround management, reorganization, fraud and bankruptcy.
Start-up and fast-growth companies – Senior-level financial professionals provide leadership and expertise to companies that lack the internal resources to manage growth or complete staff projects. Many companies have discovered that co-sourcing projects and functions is most efficient.
IPOs - During an initial public offering, experienced financial consultants can review plans with top management, organize a financial team to complete the process, and work closely with accounting and legal departments.