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Kudos to you and your associates for taking the time for this thoughtful approach, as project management is key to so many aspects of a successful consulting firm. As for standardized tests, I am not a fan (too many dark secrets to keep hidden!) as I have seen too many incorrect / improper uses without improvements in the success rate for the objective on which they were employed.
As you further consider the matter, I humbly offer some additional thoughts for your consideration:
- What do your clients value most from your firm? Is it your firm focus on engineering expertise or completing projects in the most efficient way?
- Will the PM's be at a different level than the engineers? How will compensation differ between engineers and PM's? Is such stratification for your firm desirable?
- What is the job description for your PM? What are the traits and skills PM's must have to be successful in your firm?
- Will your talented engineers be compelled to "leave" engineering for project manager positions so they don't fall behind in compensation? Will there be paths for engineers to progress based on their technical prowess? Will that compensation be comparable to that for PM's?
- Do your clients prefer to meet with the engineer or the project manager? Will your projects flourish with communications channeled through the PM? What customer service have your clients come to expect and how is that best delivered by your organization?
- Have you considered an approach in which the engineers are familiarized with project manager principles so each can remain engineers but also become competent managers? While not all are natural PM's, learning will elevate most to achieve core competencies.
- Different PM styles are not necessarily a bad thing but minimum core competencies are critical. Have you considered lunch meeting type sessions for the engineering staff to help them develop PM skills over time, especially leadership and client relation skills, and also marketing and business acumen?
I'm retired now, after rewarding efforts in consulting (structural engineer, PM, officer) over the first half of my career, and Director of Construction for a real estate firm for the rest. I was attracted to PM work early on and made an effort to learn as much as I could – reading, seminars, mentoring. I found this continuous learning over time allowed me to develop my own style, essentially through trial and error, during my career. Mentoring others in this approach has reaped some fruits. Over time, also, I found that the contribution of our talented engineers was more a factor in firm / project success than that of the project manager, including yours truly.
As technology allows individuals to leverage more and greater portions of an engineering project, projects should require fewer staff to accomplish; should these future project leaders be engineers or project managers?
Respectfully,Chuck Howard, P.E. M. ASCERichmond, VA