This statement is often the response from consultants as a deflection when asked about something that is actually within their area of responsibility, part of their supposed skill set, or already part of their task. Surprisingly, “It’s not in my contract/it will cost you extra,” has become a common occurrence from consultants while on a project.
Why does this happen? Possibly the consultant does not know the answer off hand—which is realistically going to happen. A person cannot know everything about a software application - even if they are an expert. But they should at least commit to finding the answer, and quickly.
It could also be that they have a narrow project scope and if additional tasks are taken on, they will run out of time for the items they are specifically accountable for. If this is the case, the best solution would be to convey those concerns and document the diversion of time, making sure the client and PM have a copy. It’s imperative to document even small client requested diversions, in order to make sure all parties are aware and understand potential impacts thereof. Otherwise, memories tend to get short near the end of an effort and things can become more compressed or rushed.
Another possibility is that they have been instructed by management to stay in their lane and not delineate from their specific tasks. If this is the case, the requestor needs to address the appropriate management personnel with regards to their changes or requests.
And lastly, it could be that the consultant is just arrogant, non-customer centric, or lazy. Of course, any of those reasons are 100 percent unacceptable.
I would venture to say that the main reason consultants deflect, has to do with the second part of this article’s title—the extra costs that might be involved in adding something new, an unexpected and time consuming change from the customer, etc.,
Most managers have instructed their consultants to stay in their lane, because their company does not want to be held financially responsible for delays caused by off track assistance. And this is quite understandable, but there is a better way.
And it’s called effective communication. Not only from the consulting company to the customer, but visa versa. That said, the consultant should take the lead with communicating that this is something new to them or the project and that management will need to be involved in the approval of it.
Management needs to be accessible and responsive to their team’s requests and active in their communications. If after reviewing a consultant’s customer request and it’s something time consuming, the managers can take the lead to support the consultant. If the task is relatively simple, it’s best to always err on the side of assisting the client.