By definition, a project is temporary and is created for a specific purpose – usually to deliver something new which is not a part of usual business operations.
This could be a new product, service, technology for your business, or a big event for your business like exhibiting at an industry trade show for the first time.
Project management involves the planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of the project, plus keeping those involved motivated and accountable for delivering the expected outputs and outcomes.
A project that is properly managed will help your business to grow by increasing profits; likewise a poorly managed project will eat into your valuable profit margins and could even put you out of business.
Yes, hiring a project manager could mean that your project costs will increase – but running a project without a good project manager is definitely a false economy.
You may well have someone in your existing staff that is very capable when it comes to delivering work within their team.
But if that person already has a full time job, then do they really have enough time to give such an important project the proper attention it needs to be successful?
Managing projects involves daily – sometimes hourly – problem solving to keep things on track for time, cost and quality.
An internal resource may also find it difficult to operate independently from day to day company politics and culture.
Do they have the necessary gravitas to lead across multiple departments – often referred to as a matrix environment – and will they be able to negotiate achievable deadlines across those departments?
And when something doesn’t go according to plan, will they be able to exert enough authority over their colleagues to do something about it?
I can manage the project myself!
Good project management requires effective leadership and clear lines of accountability; without a designated project manager who has ultimate responsibility for delivery success (or failure), a lack of focus or motivation can result in confusion and chaos.
You may be tempted to take the role of project manager on yourself – after all the buck stops with you, right?
This is not ideal, as by doing that you’ll be ruling yourself out of playing what is arguably the most influential role in any successful project – that of the Sponsor.
As the main driving force behind a project, the sponsor is ultimately accountable for achieving the expected benefits that the project was originally established to deliver.
The sponsor ensures that the project has authority to complete its work but does not get involved in the detail – concentrating instead on being a valuable ally for the project manager when blockers need to be removed or when issues need to be escalated which cannot be resolved by or are beyond the remit of the project manager.
Why take the risk?
Proper risk management is crucial for the success of any project, and a good project manager will keep a watchful eye out for any potential problems or opportunities that could arise during delivery to make sure the project stays one step ahead.
A good project manager will also have a contingency plan agreed and ready to go if any of those problems emerge, and enough experience to spot opportunities to speed things up or reduce costs once project delivery is underway.
That experience will be invaluable during periods of uncertainty, when important questions need to be asked that will either keep the project on track or result in a recommendation that it stops.