Working with a consultant to get your business or project off the ground is a very appealing idea. You don’t have to deal with the hassle or stress of finding or training new employees; the consultant can take on complex tasks you just don’t have the time to tackle yourself. Above all else, a consultant can significantly help you improve core skills or add additional ones. But how long do consulting projects typically last?
Knowing how long it will take to complete a project is one of the essential factors in deciding whether you should hire a consultant. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of cash flow, working with someone for weeks at a time might be financially challenging.
In this article, we’ll cover some common factors affecting how long consultants take to complete a project, plus what you should expect when hiring one.
The Length of Consulting Projects
Consulting project timelines can vary greatly in length and complexity. The scope, budget, and timeline usually determine a project’s length. The more complex or expansive the project, the more time it will take to complete. For example, a simple website redesign might only take a few weeks, whereas a large-scale website redevelopment could take six months or more.
When considering hiring a consultant, you’ll want to know how long they expect the project to take. This will help you better plan your schedule and budget accordingly. If you can include this information in the initial contract, that would be ideal to avoid any surprises down the road. You can also ask the consultant to estimate how long they think it will take and explain why that timeframe makes sense.
Keep in mind that many consultants charge by the hour, so they may not be able to provide a firm estimate until they’ve evaluated all your project details. That’s why you should take the time to explain your vision and goals as clearly as possible. That way, the consultant can give you an estimate based on their experience working with other clients with similar projects and needs.
The Factors That Can Make a Consulting Project Last Longer
It can be difficult to know how long a project will take because so many variables are involved.
How much time does it take to research, plan, and execute? Do you have the right resources on hand? Is this something you’ve done before, or are you trying something new? All of these things can have an impact on a project’s length. A consultant can help establish a timeline for your project by looking at and extrapolating from previous projects they’ve worked on.
Experience matters here. An experienced consultant knows what they’re doing, meaning they’ll be able to give you more accurate estimates of how long it will take them to complete your task. They also know what resources they need to accomplish the work in a timely manner. If you’re working with someone who hasn’t done this kind of work before, then the time it takes for them to get up-to-speed might be longer than expected (and therefore affect your timeline).
Many factors can affect consulting timelines, such as:
- The number of people involved in the project
- The complexity of the task at hand
- The availability of relevant data, information, or materials
- The availability of people who can work on the project (including you)
- The number of stakeholders involved in the project
When you meet with potential consultants, ask how they would deal with each of these factors if they were working on your project. You may find that some consultants are better suited to certain types of projects than others.
Tips for Controlling Consulting Contract Lengths and Costs
The length of a consulting contract is just as important as its cost. If you have too short a contract, your company may not receive the full benefit of the consultant’s knowledge and expertise. Conversely, if you sign on for too long a period, you could end up paying more than necessary. So how do you keep these two factors in balance? Here are some tips.
Know Your Goals
Before signing on with a consultant, clearly define what you want them to do for your organization. If possible, quantify this in terms of hours or days spent working on the project. This will help ensure both parties have similar expectations about what will be accomplished during their partnership and how long it will take to get it done.
Limit the Scope of the Work
If possible, limit the scope of what your consultant will be working on so that they don’t spend more time than necessary on any task or project. You can also limit what work needs to be done by providing them with explicit instructions about what needs to happen and when. This will keep you from getting charged for unnecessary tasks.
Handle Some Things Yourself
If you can handle some of the work yourself, that’ll save your consultant from having to do it. For example, if you’re a developer and need help with a project requiring coding, then you can likely handle the coding yourself. The more you can do yourself, the less you’ll have to pay your consultant.
Plan Ahead When You Hire a Consultant
Rather than rush into hiring a consultant, take a step back and ensure you’ve given everything adequate thought. More than just the sheer amount of work, you have to consider other factors, such as how much you’ll need to pay the consultant. Knowing these factors is the difference between being able to hire a consultant for the right reasons and hiring one just because you want to get things done.
If you need help with a project, consider reaching out to NeONBRAND to find a consultant that’s right for your project. Our consultants are dedicated to helping businesses succeed in the digital world.