What Should You Pay for a Product Manager Consultant?

by Sean Boyce

Let’s say you want some help building your product and business.  You’ve even gone as far to identify that you are looking for help related to product management.  What you need to know now is exactly how much should you budget for to get the help that you need.  Well there are several options when it comes to hiring a product manager consultant so we’ll cover those first and then talk a bit more about what you might expect to pay for the services of each.

Identify Your Project Scope

First you need to do some homework to identify just how much help you need.  Are you developing a digital product?  Are you technical and/or can you write code?  How mature is the business?  Depending on these answers you may want to work with a product manager consultant with specific expertise.  Since product manager consultants are expected to have a firm understanding of business or tech, they are typically experts in at least one of these areas.  Depending on your project, you may or may not benefit from a product manager consultant that is technical.  For some additional insight on this topic please see the post here.  After you have further identified the type of product manager consultant you are after you can start to begin the process of budgeting for one.  

Hourly Rate

If your project is majorly flushed out and you simply need expert level advice from a product manager consultant then you may want to consider budgeting for a product manager consultant on an hourly basis.  I would recommend working with a product manager consultant on a regular basis.  Your product manager consultant should, as a minimum, be helping you keep your product on track.  This will require regular updates on progress so you and your product manager consultant can make adjustments.

The hourly rate you can expect to pay your product manager consultant will vary based on a number of factors.  Again you will want to align the background and experience of the product manager consultant you are looking to hire to you and your project.  A good place to start when comparing product manager consultants is the freelancing marketplace upwork.  Here is a list of various product manager consultants currently available for hire, although we’re partial to this profile.  The hourly range in this list is currently between $14-$100 / hr.  I would suggest leaning more towards the higher end of that range (if not even higher) based on the quality of work I’ve seen done relative to what it cost.  Here’s a recent discussion on quora regarding this topic.  

Value Based Pricing

A different way to think about engaging a product manager consultant is one who completes work based on what is called value based pricing.  Wikipedia roughly defines value based pricing as the estimated or perceived value of a product or service.  Value based pricing is intended to tie cost more directly to specific results.  Ultimately what you want is for your product to be successful.  If your product is successful and the investment you made can show a positive return the “amount” you’ve paid shouldn’t matter all that much.  This is the essence of value based pricing and several professionals and firms prefer this approach to simply trading time for money.

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If you are going the route of value based pricing when working with a product manager consultant you will want to narrow down exactly what you are hoping to achieve.  For one product this may mean identifying the 2 or 3 initial features of the MVP (Minimum Viable Product).  For another product this may mean cutting a list of 5 to 10 features down to only 1.  Whatever your goals are, you are going to need to know these before you elect to work with a product manager consultant that offers their services in a value based pricing format.  

Before you set a specific budget for what to pay your product manager consultant first identify the specific kind of help you need to make your product successful.  Once you have this information you can begin to evaluate various options that fit into your budget.  

If you’d like to learn more about product management or talk more about the services I offer as a product management consultant please feel free to reach out to me at sean@nxtstep.io.  Keep disrupting.

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