The primary task of a project manager (or PM) is to add value. How that happens and what “add value” looks like will vary from one project to another, but the bottom line is that project management, done well, is an essential value driver for your organization.
What is project management?
Project management is the specialty of managing the accomplishment of objectives within time and budget targets. PMs coordinate and oversee all aspects of a project from initial proposal through development, planning, and final deliverable. A project manager must be able to execute a multitude of tasks as if each were the primary task, cultivating cohesion among departments and individuals, balancing time and risk realities, managing client expectations, and providing continuous forward momentum. PMs may also be tasked with recruiting and managing freelance writers, instructional designers, and other project service providers.
The difference it makes
A project manager’s singular focus on meeting project expectations is as valuable for you as it is for your clients, and it can be the difference between success and failure. Every activity eats up time and other resources. A PM tracks resource utilization against projections, trimming and tweaking along the way, to help you produce final deliverables on time and within budget. A project manager works proactively to identify scheduling conflicts, potential delays, and functional limitations that might impact the project.
A PM is your ambassador of customer-centricity. Clients benefit from the consistency of a single point of contact. A good project manager has a “sixth sense” about how to put clients at ease and help them articulate their expectations and concerns. Assigning a dedicated PM signals your commitment to a client’s project and establishes formal control mechanisms to ensure proper resource allocation, communication streams, and timely delivery of a quality product.
There is a good chance you will have freelance writers or instructional designers on your project team. A responsive, organized project manager ensures that freelancers are in the loop with client expectations, internal deadlines, style guides, and project milestones.
Who can do it?
The easy answer is “a project manager,” and many organizations do have PMs on staff. As the business case for project management becomes clearer, there is a trend toward hiring full-time project managers. However, the obvious answer is not the only answer. In many cases the instructional designer takes on a dual role of ID and PM, and with good reason. Like the project manager, the instructional designer touches most (if not all) pieces of a project from proposal to final deliverable. Good instructional designers are extremely conscientious about production deadlines and meeting client expectations, and their intimate involvement with project details uniquely positions them to look ahead for potential challenges and delays. The most successful instructional designers possess the time management skills, communication fluency, and attention to detail that project management requires.
Is it better to hire a titled project manager or to commission your instructional designer into double-duty? Yes. Yes to either; yes to both. The bottom line is that every project should add value to your clients and your organization, and formalizing the role of project manager is essential for driving the value of your project work.
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Copyright © 2013 Sally Bacchetta. All rights reserved.References
Dutton, G. (2013). Juggling Act. Training Magazine, 50(2). Retrieved from http://www.trainingmag.com/content/juggling-act.
Greer, M. (2010). The Project Management Minimalist: Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project Management: Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling Projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.