So many requirements that come into Arras People start off with “I’m looking for a Project Manager”. After learning more about the real reason for the call i.e., what do you need this person to actually do; it often transpires that a project manager is not needed at all – in fact it’s often a project co-ordinator.
The term “project co-ordinator” in the marketplace essentially means two different types of roles. The first definition is that of a supporting role in a project – supporting the project manager and project team in main task areas like reporting, updating the project records, support around the process, method and templates. Generally this role is about providing project management support or dare I say it, an administrative function around project delivery.
The second definition is a role which is much more hands on in the actual delivery of the project, think of it like an assistant project manager. The tasks carried out are not unlike that of the project manager however if the project is small and uncomplex the position can be carried out by a competent project co-ordinator. The project co-ordinator in this kind of role does have the experience and understanding of project management concepts – or the more technical parts of project management – like putting together a plan, assigning a team to activities and controlling the delivery. The likelihood is the project they are managing would be small in team size, even a project team size of one, where they are expected to deliver the project outcome themelves.
The trick of course is knowing when to use a project co-ordinator rather than a project manager and answering yes to most of these will helping the decision making process;
- Has the project been well scoped out already?
- Have the critical success factors been well defined already?
- Is the project team size less than 5?
- Is the project of relatively low value / low cost?
- Is the project timescale less than 6 months?
- Is the project low risk?
- Is the project non-business critical?
- Is there an immediate manager – project sponsor – with available time for support?
In the past Arras have seen numerous project requirements which suit a project co-ordinator much better than a project manager – often these roles are seen as “too easy” or “lacking in challenge” for a project manager anyway (plus the salary or rate is too low). Projects have included things like “project managing the introduction of a new policy document”; “project managing an office move”; “project managing the installation of kit on client sites” and so on. All are roles where a project co-ordinator is capable of planning the activity and more importantly, organising others to deliver something to an agreed timescales. Not all projects are complex so why do some organisations insist on “using a hammer to crack a nut”?
Image – austincameraguy