Project management—the planning, organizing and managing the effort to accomplish a successful project—calls for a special set of skills. These include leadership, great communication skills, and flexibility. But why use a project manager at all, when individual team members already may possess some or all or those tools?
At Boost Midwest, we find that the right project manager helps avoid any surprises along the project timeline and creates processes that can be re-used on subsequent projects, meaning there’s no need to reinvent the wheel —or, in project management terms, the framework— for each new project.
Businesses and nonprofits are increasingly embracing the positives a good project manager can bring to the table. According to a study commissioned by the Project Management Institute, conducted by Anderson Economics Groups “Through 2027, the project management-oriented labor force in seven project-oriented sectors is expected to grow by 33 percent, or nearly 22 million new jobs.”
The bottom line is that matching the right project manager to a project directly contributes to productivity, in general. Working with a range of clients, Boost Midwest has found that success during a project’s life cycle’s five phases—initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing—is best met by having a project manager in place.
Here are 14 great reasons you need a project manager:
1. Keeps the project vision in the forefront. Having a project manager define the concept, goals, approach and reasons for a given project is critical. Just as important is that the project team doesn’t lose sight of them when deep in their individual part.
2. Identifies and allocates resources. Team members, tools and outside resources all combine for a successful project. A project manager fits the right person to the task, finds the best tools for the project and locates any outside resources, including additional funding sources.
3. Maintains team communication. Clear, consistent communication is so vital to the efficiency and productivity of the project’s team. As team members often are focused on one particular piece of a larger project, keeping the entire team posted on overall progress, changes to the timeline, budget and processes keeps everyone on the same page, with no surprises.
4. Creates a work schedule. A project manager estimates how long each task should take, and makes sure tasks are prioritized to be completed in the right order.
5. Manages time. Time often presents the most common challenge to a project. The project manager controls the project schedule, and uses milestones, important dates and the path to completion throughout the project’s life. Makes sure project goals are delivered on time.
6. Manages quality. The project manager makes sure the work performed by the team meets standards set by the PM when the project began. Here, the project manager also defines how to measure quality targets and issues quality reports back to the team.
7. Communicates with stakeholders. Through regularly scheduled reports, the project manager keeps stakeholders abreast of the goals and progress of a project, and shares this information with the project team.
8. Improves customer satisfaction. A skilled project manager is also an effective marketer. How? Because quality project management leads to satisfied clients who may then refer your company to new, potential clients.
9. Controls the scope of the project. The project scope—what has to be delivered and what work has to be done to deliver them—needs to be monitored and managed throughout the life of the project. Using a project manager to continually address the scope of a project saves effort and cost.
10. Tracks the budget and manages costs. A defined project with accurate time and cost estimates in place, along with tracking of the actual costs as the project moves through its timeline, helps keep costs under control. A project manager controls not just financial resources but people and equipment resources as well.
11. Troubleshoots problems and sees future risks. Since the project manager owns the timeline and structure of the project and keeps the project goals and stakeholders always in mind, risks can be identified and solved before they happen. In fact, potential risks, their possible impact on the project, and having a plan to address them are the project manager’s responsibility from the start.
12. Negotiates with outside authorities and organizations. If your project requires any outside services, products or contractors, or needs government permits the project manager will manages contracts, controls the terms of these contracts, and make sure the necessary documents for securing any permits are in place.
13. Improves team morale. A well-managed team is a happy team! With a project manager in charge, the number of surprises and delays is lessened, while regular communication to team members stops them from feeling they are “working in the dark.”
14. Closes the project. All projects come to an end but a smooth, on-time and trouble-free completion is what you, the project manager, the team and outside stakeholders all want. The project manager not only ensures this happens but documents and reviews all the project phases with the stakeholders, and evaluates the project for any ways processes can be improved for the next one.
Interestingly enough, while organizations have used project managers for decades, the US Department of Labor first recognized it as an occupation category in 2018, stating: “This change reflects the increasing role project management plays across the economy and industries.” What are the ways you can use a project manager in your own business today?