As a project manager (PM), I and the rest of Avaus team aim to meet and exceed client expectations. There is no better professional satisfaction than delivering a project that pleases a client. That usually means completing the task in a timely and cost-effective way. Having worked as a PM for the most of my professional career, I’ve seen how project management can be disregarded at times. I dare to claim that a large part of delivering effective projects is actually hidden in our day-to-day project management activities. Here’s my list of 5 reasons why project management matters.
1. Communication, communication, communication
Communication – there is no way to avoid or overemphasise the necessity of it. Communication is at the core of what we do as project managers. This includes, of course, internal communication with the project team (which I’ll get to it later), but more importantly, the communication with the client. That means communicating the status of projects and budget in a clear, timely, and transparent way so that our clients don’t have to wonder what’s going on or when different items will be completed. Some clients prefer daily communication, while others prefer weekly. Some clients prefer only to be notified when something needs their attention. Some like to communicate via email, while others prefer to use a collaborative tool such as Trello or Basecamp, and still others prefer to talk on the phone. The idea is to adjust the communication style to each client’s preferences so that they receive the information they require when and how they need it.
2. Translating business needs into tangible results
A project’s failure is frequently caused by misunderstandings regarding what has to be done. PMs, in my opinion, act as interpreters between the client and the project team to ensure that these situations don’t happen. Imagine a developer working diligently on an item for three days just to find out after delivery that it was not at all what was expected. As PMs, our job is to determine and prioritise what the client truly requires, and then communicate this to the team in their own language. It’s also important that the team feels comfortable asking questions and getting further information if anything is unclear. The PM is the one to create this safe environment where there are no stupid questions.
Nowadays, it is very common that not all team members work in one place. In these types of scenarios, it goes without saying that communication with the project team becomes even more important. I once managed a project with a customer in the United States, a development team in Poland, a creative team in the Netherlands, and myself and a few other team members in Finland. In that project, it was extremely important to coordinate work and keep everyone informed about what needed to be done on a daily basis. Even if the team works in one location (which is rare nowadays because people may work from home or on client premises), one person, the PM, is responsible for coordinating and communicating duties among the team members. The key to project success is ensuring that everyone on the team understands what they are expected to do and when they are supposed to do it.
3. Protecting the team
Allowing the team to concentrate on their responsibilities is critical for keeping the project on track. Of course, it is also important in terms of the work’s quality. High-quality results are the consequence of a happy team with defined goals and a disturbance-free work environment. The PM’s job is to act as a buffer between the client and the project team in this situation. While the team is working on their current tasks, the PM can talk with the customer about what they need next – and then coordinate new tasks once the previous ones are completed. It’s also more convenient for the customer when they know they’ll be speaking with one person for all of their needs, rather than having to contact different persons for different tasks. When the PM is the sole contact, she/he always has the full view on what is going on.
Imagine each team member addressing their own tasks with the client; no one would truly understand what was going on. Great results come from allowing the team to focus on what they do best. A data scientist might be a superstar rocking numbers but might not be so comfortable in writing emails or negotiating budgets. This is why it’s critical that everyone concentrates on their primary competencies. There is no squandering of time, and we all know that time is money.
4. Assuring high quality
Having one person in control of the entire project not only increases efficiency, but it also improves quality. The PM can focus on viewing “the big picture” while data scientists, developers, and growth hackers focus on their specialised areas of competence. The PM can also assist in identifying areas for improvement as she/he has a more objective look on the work than the team who is actually working on the different items defined in the project scope. Because the PM worked with the client to establish the needs in the first place, she understands the business and may be able to provide more insight into how things could be done better if new ideas arise.
5. Someone needs to take care of the boring administrative work, too!
Last but not least, we as PMs also need to do a bit of the boring stuff too. Like booking resources to ensure they are available to work on a specific project. Or reminding everyone to mark their daily working hours so that we can update our clients on the status of the budget. These might seem like small things but are in the end an important part of the big picture of delivering successful projects. Imagine Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream without the little chocolate chips in the dough; the flavour would be completely different!
Use our resources to take your first step
If you’re one of the businesses that mistakenly think of project management as an unnecessary fee, don’t hesitate to read on our resources or contact us. Our experts at Avaus will help you to take your next steps!