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Do we really need a Project Manager?


project management, supporting, change, small business, enabling,

Why a business should need a Project Manager

20th February 2019

Do we really need a Project Manager?

A question that is debated and for many different reasons.

‘We’re a micro or small company – surely we can manage things ourselves?’

‘Feels like a sledgehammer to crack a nut.’

‘We’ve got a limited budget – resourcing is tight and we can’t afford to have a role where the cost is considered high and there are no recognisable company outputs.’

‘We don’t run projects.’

‘We don’t make changes – nothing needs to change it all runs smoothly.’

‘If we need those skills, we’ll just find someone in the team – they can complete those tasks alongside their other tasks.’

‘Project managers are just for large companies.’

‘We don’t want to be constricted by Project Management structure and paperwork.’

Whilst all of the above feel valid at the time, many businesses – irrespective of size, sector or delivery focus – would benefit from the skills that a project manager would bring to the team. Perhaps its better to look at what a project manager would bring to a business - what skills and attributes such a role would bring to an organisation and therefore benefit it by doing so?

It may not be a long-term appointment, it may not even be a full-time appointment, but those key skills of organisation, definition and implementation can support and benefit a business in many different ways, as it becomes the sole focus of an individual to:

• Hold an overall strategic and detailed view of the activity:

o Be able to provide a clear and objective understanding of the effectiveness of the activity at any one point in time for senior managers;

o Co-ordination point for the activity – a one place of information and understanding ‘a go-to’ point of information.

o Be able to review across the body of work as well as being able to provide detailed knowledge of specific sub-activities and understand how / why these contribute to the whole. Often misunderstood by senior managers – but key to the successful delivery of an activity.

• Agree and implement a project management style and process that is suitable for the business size, activity and delivery style.

o Prince 2, Waterfall, Agile – a formal recognised structure

o Or something crafted specifically for your needs – using a formal structure as the basis.

• Define the activity to ensure that it’s aims, purpose, objectives and outputs are clearly defined and understood. Key for the successful delivery of any activity – agreed at the outset, it provides the reference point for all / any sub-activities.

• Track and obtain agreement for any proposed change to the original activity definition:

o This will also include impact assessing the change to understand what its effect will be on the end outcome.

o Ensures that the activity will deliver, if not the originally agreed outcome, then an amended outcome and the path between the two is fully understood and agreed.

• Agree who needs to be involved – from senior managers through to the office junior, if their role is affected by the activity they need to be involved in some way.

• Define and agree a plan (or two) – there may be a development plan, an implementation plan, a stakeholder engagement plan, a marketing plan, a training plan, depending on the activity.

• Monitor the plan(s) – make sure that everything is completed as to the plan(s) and take corrective action if required.

o Working with those delivering the activities to remind them of deadlines, actions that are required etc

o Identifying where things are going astray, supporting getting them back on track.

• Risk management:

o Considering potential risks and agree how these should be managed to prevent them happening and in the event of them actually occurring (changing to issues) how that should be managed.

o Reviewing these regularly to ensure that the corrective actions remain valid.

• Controlling the budget, ensuring that income and expenditure is retained within agreed tolerances; although this could be separated and held within the accounts function of a business if the role is held by a contractor.

• Provide a challenge to the business to ascertain if sub-activities are required / processes are effective or efficient.

• Provide a fast track between activity and senior management – delivering information in a style suitable to the project size and delivery pace, enabling swift management of issues as they arise.

• Accessing skills, abilities and experience that may not be held within the existing workforce – for example change management skills to support implementation of a new workplace structure.

• Access benefits of an experienced project manager – such as this being the sole focus of their role, experience of other projects, getting change right first time, embedding change within the business, learning from the experience through post project reviews.

• Providing an independent view:

o Able to question why things are done in a particular way – perhaps identifying alternative processes / practices and reducing overheads.

By accessing such a wealth of skills, surely the question would be ‘why wouldn’t we need a project manager?’