Exploring the Menu-Driven Approach to Project Management in Professional Services

Exploring the Menu-Driven Approach to Project Management in Professional Services


One of the enduring challenges in project management is the diverse range of interpretations and implementations of its methodologies. Whether adhering to established frameworks like PRINCE2, Agile, or Scrum, project management can mean vastly different things depending on the context. For a small startup, it might resemble a simple to-do list, whereas for a government project, it could involve extensive documentation, governance, oversight, and multiple stakeholders.

This variability makes pricing and scaling projects complex. Clients often want to pay the minimum while expecting maximum output. Defining the boundaries of project management services, especially when they intersect with procurement, business analysis, and process improvement, becomes a tricky balancing act.

The Concept of Menu-Driven Project Management

To address these challenges, I contemplated a menu-driven approach to project management. Imagine having three tiers of project initiation documents—small, medium, and large—and applying this logic to the entire project management lifecycle. Customers could then pick and choose exactly what they need, receiving real-time pricing updates. This transparency could demystify what clients are paying for and potentially optimize resource allocation.

Pros and Cons of the Menu-Driven Approach

1. Transparency and Accountability: Clients can see exactly what they are paying for, enhancing trust and accountability.
2. Customization: Clients can tailor the project management services to their specific needs, avoiding unnecessary expenses.
3. Flexibility: The approach accommodates fluctuating project demands, providing more resources when needed and scaling back during lulls.

1. Oversimplification: There’s a risk of reducing complex project management tasks to mere checklist items, undermining the true value of expertise and experience.
2. Client Comprehension: Clients may struggle to understand what components they need and why, which is often why they hire consultants in the first place.
3. Potential Gaps: The approach might miss the holistic view required to manage complex projects effectively, focusing too much on discrete tasks rather than the overall strategy.

Implementation and Observations

I developed a basic HTML and JavaScript-driven pick list to test this concept. The pricing generated by this algorithm seemed accurate based on my 30 years of experience in project and change management. However, I realized that while the tool could be useful, it might not be suitable as a direct product for clients. Most clients lack the necessary understanding of project management components, making the selection process cumbersome and potentially overwhelming.

The Broader Implications

The rise of dashboards, checklists, and various project management metrics suggests a growing preference for granular accountability. This trend might indicate that a menu-driven approach could add value by providing clear measurements of progress. However, it’s crucial to balance this with the need for flexibility and a holistic perspective, which are often essential in managing complex changes involving people, processes, and technology.


The menu-driven approach to project management offers intriguing possibilities for increasing transparency and customization in professional services. Yet, it also poses risks of oversimplification and potential gaps in project management. The challenge lies in finding the right balance between detailed accountability and the comprehensive, adaptive management required for successful project execution.

I invite feedback on this approach. Does a menu-driven model provide the transparency and control clients seek, or does it reduce the art of project management to a series of automated templates? Your insights will help refine this concept and explore its potential in real-world applications.

My menu-driven system is not yet a fully-fledged product for public use. However, if you’re interested, feel free to direct message me. I’ll be happy to share a link so you can experiment with it. Your feedback would be invaluable in refining and improving the system.