Why do I need a Project Manager?
Written by Niki Stonelake, Project Manager for Solü Technology Partners.
proj·ect man·ag·er: (noun) the person in overall charge of the planning and execution of a particular project.
Why Do I need a Project Manager on my team?
We are often asked why we would want to utilize a Project Manager or are they necessary for the project? Before we dive into why you need a PM, let’s look at what a Project Manager does outside of the definition listed above using the Five W’s:
Who is a Project Manager?
Prior to going out into the real world, I had never heard of a “Project Manager”. For me, being a quick-learner, personable, empathetic, competent and enthusiastic are all components of what helps me to lead a successful team on a project. Those attributes aside, the high-level skills a PM must have are:
- Organization skills – if a project is not organized from the beginning with a set process, may result in project failure. Creating a plan early on, executing the plan, and adjusting to changing demands will keep everyone involved on task and the project on schedule.
- Communication skills – being upfront and honest is always the best policy, but especially when managing a project. You want to make sure everyone involved – clients, team members, upper management – are all on the same page. Again, creating a plan and communicating throughout the process will be the key to a successful project.
- Social skills – picking up on the nonverbals that happen during team interactions and meetings help to understand how your team is working together.
- Strong leadership skills – as the project manager, you need to “own” the project from start to finish. Keep your team (and the project) on schedule by leading. There are many moving parts to managing a project but working together will allow for successful execution.
- Ability to be Flexible – adapting to changes in scope as well as how people work together will continue to move the project towards success.
What does a PM do?
A Project Manager is accountable for the success or failure of a project. So, what exactly does a PM do to ensure the success of a project?
- Plan: the PM is responsible for defining the project and creating a comprehensive plan. As mentioned previously, this is where organizational skills come into play, the project will run more smoothly if the PM structures an organized and clear plan.
- Manage the Team: the PM is not the only person needed to execute the plan; a team of individuals will contribute their skills for a successful project. However, it is the PM’s responsibility to keep the team on the same page through communication and to motivate them to stay on task with the plan.
- Manage the Expectations: the PM will align the process with the business goals, communicate with stakeholders, and work to keep the project on task.
- Manage the budget: the PM is responsible for estimating the cost based on the scope of the project, develop a budget and ensure the team sticks to the budget throughout the life of the project.
When do you want to bring a Project Manager into a project?
Ideally, you want to engage a Project Manager from the beginning of a project to have the most success. However, things happen, like maybe there wasn’t budget for a PM originally. Don’t worry, bringing in a PM later in the project isn’t a showstopper. However, when they are coming into an ongoing project having the right PM with the ability to adapt to change and pick up on the project quickly is critical.
Where is a Project Manager used?
Project Management isn’t associated with just the IT industry. It’s a practice done in ALL industries. One thing to keep in mind is the project will inevitably be more successful with a PM who possesses a background related to your business needs. For example, if you need a project manager for a technical project, you may want to engage with a PM who has a technical background.
Now back to the initial question…WHY do I need a Project Manager?
A Project Manager is responsible for the overall vision of the project, therefore utilizing a PM will increase the likelihood a project will be successful, profitable and enable the business to grow. The PM provides direction for the team through time management, scope management and continuously examining the milestones of the project. The PM also acts as the main point of contact for the stakeholders, so communication is streamlined, and effort is reduced, thus saving the business time and money. The Project Manager isn’t the only person on the team who is needed. Overall, a project cannot be successful without a team, but the Project Manager is the glue that holds the team together.
At Solü, we engage Project Managers for both internal and external projects, so we understand the importance of this role within a team.
Our question now is why wouldn’t you use a Project Manager? We want to hear about your next project and understand how a PM would best fit your business needs.