in Organizations

A Firm’s Mix of Consultants and Projects

As mentioned last week, I’m reading David H. Maister’s Managing the Professional Service Firm, and it’s very very very good. I’ll post some summaries here, though it’s almost a sin to summarize it as his writing is already clear and concise.

Staff falls in 3 basic levels: Partner, Manager, and Consultant.

He identifies 3 main types of projects:

  • Brains (require extensive expertise, little can be reused)
  • Grey Hair (requires experience, some can be reused), and
  • Procedure (familiar problem, much is reused).

The right staffing mix is needed for the project mix, e.g. more Partners for Brains projects, more Consultants for Procedure projects. Over time, you need to factor in how consultants are to be promoted, what kind of projects you attract, and how that affects the mix.