Project management is an expansive role. For different businesses and different professionals, project management can mean all manner of things. A project manager could drive change within a business, they could be a specialist who leads a team to realise its full potential or an individual tasked with improving stakeholder engagement. The variations are potentially endless.
As a result, a lot of hiring managers and business owners struggle to identify the need for a project manager or the difference their skills could make to their business.
Recently, we’ve seen a number of local businesses approaching us with a skills gap they are unsure how to fill. We’ve had organisations approach us unsure about what resources they need to manage and instigate a change, encourage business growth, launch a new product, make logistical changes or even introduce new technology and processes.
In many scenarios the answer has been to introduce a project manager.
When can a project manager help your business?
Although much depends on the skill set of your current team and the frequency and size of the projects you have coming in, it may be that a project manager can help you to:
- set clear objectives that are tied to your business strategy, helping you to achieve the very best results from your project;
- keep you on track to achieve your objectives without the scope of the project changing;
- improve team productivity,
- and keep you on budget and on time.
Despite these clear benefits of having a great project manager in post, many businesses still see the role as an additional expenditure when costs have to be cut elsewhere.
Yet when the need is there for a project manager, the opposite can be true – particularly with a professional in post. A project manager can, in fact, make your organisation more efficient, help you to reach objectives, realise potential and, eventually, save costs and achieve growth.
Free up skilled team members and make your resources go further
The benefits of hiring a project manager don’t stop there either. In many businesses, skilled employees – whether they are software developers, IT technicians, HR managers or marketing experts – are often tasked with managing projects on top of the ‘doing’ part of their job. Not only are they expected to lead teams, coordinate resources and oversee budgets, they will be trying to juggle all of that with completing tasks that their job requires of them.
As a result these skilled professionals are stretched thin, with the organisation not reaping the benefits of their expertise. On top of that, project management may not be their forte and that could result in anything from an unhappy team to a failed project that costs your organisation money.
With a project manager in place you could free up valuable time for your expert team members, helping to improve productivity and, potentially, employee satisfaction.
Achieve better stakeholder engagement
It is natural that a project encounters high-pressure periods, where deadlines are tight and teams can feel up against it. It’s during these periods that a good project manager can make a significant difference, making sure the team feel like their efforts are valued, the project is on track to achieve their goals and they are making a positive contribution.
A project manager will also help to alleviate these high pressure scenarios – with good planning in place, deadlines shouldn’t be pushed and teams shouldn’t be left to feel like things are left to the last minute.
Beyond employee engagement, project managers can help engage clients, key team members, senior management and further stakeholders. Many project managers are skilled in stakeholder influence, helping to encourage ‘buy in’ in the project and managing expectations throughout.
Find the right project manager for your business
With all that said, there isn’t just one type of a project manager and many will be skilled in certain types of projects, potentially even sectors and industries.
As a result you want to make sure you recruit your project manager wisely to ensure you get the best possible fit for your team, project and business.
To make sure you hire the right project manager for you:
Revisit your objectives for hiring a project manager. Ask yourself what you want to achieve from hiring a project manager and look for someone whose skill set and experience fit your requirements.
Remember that you are hiring a project manager and not a specialist. You will potentially want someone with a good understanding of the technicalities of a project but they don’t necessarily need to be able to implement the work themselves – they just need to coordinate and manage it. That said, many companies will be in need of a project manager but their team may not be large enough to accommodate one. In these scenarios you may want to look for someone who will still be hands on but make sure you balance these requirements appropriately.
Avoid being too general in your job descriptions. Project management is an expansive field and professionals will have their preferred projects, systems and specialities. Speak to your recruitment agency about the type of person you are looking for and they will be able to guide you in the right direction.
Think about the qualifications you require your project manager to have. There are many different recognised project management qualifications but that doesn’t mean they will all be right for your organisation. PRINCE2, for example, is very process-driven whereas PMP offers a more all-encompassing knowledge of the discipline. Again, speak with your recruitment agency and they will be able to help you decide what it is you’re looking for.
Consider when you expect a project manager to step in. Do you want them to be involved in the ‘big idea’ that initiates a change? Or do you want them to pick up a project that is already underway? Depending on the phase you want a project manager to step in at, they will require a different skill set, so keep this in mind.
Making future projects better
With the right project manager in place the benefits don’t simply stop with the completion of a project.
The smooth running of a project can leave a legacy for future projects and equip teams with the resources they require to implement change effectively – a great project manager can help an organisation go on to be adaptable in the future.