Do you REALLY need a Project Manager?

So many requirements that we see at Arras People start off with “I’m looking for a Project Manager”; however after learning more about the context of the role 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, the role is better suited to an experienced project co-ordinator.

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In the marketplace, the term “project co-ordinator” has the same challenges as many other project management roles in that it often means different things to different people/organisations. In our experience the term project co-ordinator typically covers two different types of roles:

  • The administrator – where the practitioners are tasked to provide supporting activities within a project environment. The duties and tasks are all around supporting the project manager and project team, undertaking activities such as reporting, updating project records, support around the process, method and templates. Whilst “support” is sometimes an unfashionable title, in this instance, it clearly describes the important role that the project co-ordinator is there to do.
  • The organiser – in this definition the role which is much more hands-on in terms of the actual delivery of the project, it may even overlap with the job title “assistant/junior project manager” as used in some organisations. The tasks carried out are not unlike that of a project manager, however, the projects tend to be smaller, lower risk and uncomplex. The project co-ordinator in this kind of role will typically 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 themselves.

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 to provide 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 (and in many instances the salary or rate on offer is too low!). Projects have included things like “project managing the introduction of a new policy document”;  “project managing a small 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 timescale. Not all projects are complex so why do some organisations insist on “using a hammer to crack a nut”?

Do you have a project role that needs filling? Contact us and hire the perfect candidate for your business.

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