What is Project Management?
Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” In business, an example of a project might be something like implementing new software that streamlines processes for employees, expanding distribution to a new market, designing and building a new website that more efficiently sells products, and so on.
Project management always has been around in some form, but in the mid-20th century it emerged as a distinct profession. Because projects tend to have several moving parts and require input from various departments in an organization, the project manager role was created to keep all elements running smoothly, from conception of the idea through completion of the project. A successful project is measured by the goals and requirements that are met in the timeline developed.
The project manager will be held accountable for the success or failure of a project. Their responsibilities include defining, planning, executing and closing the project, managing and motivating team members, as well as managing expectations, keeping projects aligned to the goals, maintaining communication amongst all team members, and dealing with any unexpected snags or difficulties along the way.
Key Characteristics of an Effective Project Manager
The most successful project managers keep their eyes on the goal of the project, staying focused on outcomes over processes alone. Every project is unique, and those project managers who attempt to create a “one size fits all” process they can apply to future projects may be wasting their time. Instead, they need to focus on each project individually, understanding that the outcome needed is the most important component at hand.
Project managers are goal-driven individuals who enjoy the challenge of driving results. They make the goals of the project their own, using their skills and expertise to inspire and encourage their team. Any effective project manager will focus on:
- Achieving objectives. How successful the project manager is in meeting the objectives of the project are determined by the time, scope and overall cost. All three of these elements must be aligned to reach the goal.
- Motivating their team. Project managers must be able to provide vision and direction while being a leader. It’s important to keep each team member motivated throughout the project to ensure they’re doing their best work.
- Identifying impending issues. It’s not uncommon for obstacles to hinder the success of a project. However, a skilled project manager will be able to identify the key issues and problems that could arise, and will select the best choice among them to keep the project moving along as it should.
- Ensuring quality. Because project managers are held accountable for the outcome of the project, they have the ability to make the important decisions that keep the project moving towards successful completion.
- Mitigating risk. By predicting and designing solutions to obstacles before they arise, effective project managers are able to better manage risk and deliver results.
Internal vs. External Project Management
Both internal, or in-house, and external project managers help organizations reach their goals within the scope, time and budget set for a project. The decision to go with an internal project manager or to outsource the role often depends on factors like the costs involved and whether qualified candidates are available.
Project managers enjoy challenges, and they are often thoughtful and pragmatic leaders. They need to possess excellent communication and negotiation skills on top of their specific expertise in the industry. A successful project manager is able to ensure that projects are delivered on time, within budget and that everything goes according to plan. Let’s take a look at the differences between hiring project managers internally and externally.
Internal Project Managers
Internal project managers are already employees of the company, which means they have intimate knowledge of the company culture, operations, and they have proven experience in the industry. Because they are on-site, they’re available for questions throughout every step of the project. They lessen the risk of security issues, and take care not to create processes that could ultimately damage the organization’s bottom line.
However, there are some drawbacks to internal project management, too. They may be more reactive in handling projects due to their knowledge about the company, and they may shy away from taking a more active role in the project. They may not want to push other team members too hard due to internal politics, and they also may worry too much about their futures with the company due to the accountability they have in the project’s outcomes.
External Project Managers
There are some definite perks when it comes to outsourcing project managers. And, filling this role externally has become common practice in recent years. One benefit is that external project managers have the specific skills and expertise needed to ensure the project’s success, and they offer a fresh perspective on strategies. Additionally, they can minimize overhead costs and keep the strategic team focused on other tasks within the organization.
However, some companies might be skeptical about outsourcing the project manager role in fear of sharing proprietary information. They’ll need access to resources only an internal employee might have to ensure they can meet the defined goals, and as an outsider, they may have some difficulty establishing themselves as a leader on the team.
4 Steps to Hiring the Right Project Manager for Your Organization
Keep in mind that no project can succeed without the right person in charge of it. Whether you’re hiring a project manager from within your current team of employees or you’re outsourcing the role, you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the most capable person for the job. This means finding an adaptable individual with real-world project management skills.
Additionally, you’ll need to identify a candidate with the skills that match your organization’s goals. Remember, you’ll be hiring someone who will be controlling budgets, staffing, and relationships and ultimately delivering the results your business needs to succeed.
Keep these four steps in mind when you’re hiring a project manager:
- Determine whether the role will be fulfilled in-house or through outsourcing. The first step in hiring a project manager is to decide if you’ll pull an employee from your current team or if you’ll hire an external project manager. Based on the information we mentioned previously, there are some pros and cons to each, so identify which type of project manager will best meet your organization’s needs.
- Understand the skills needed for the project. Will your ideal project manager need an advanced college degree? How technical are the tools they’ll be required to use? Are you seeking any specific certifications or training backgrounds? Can you provide some level of training, or should they come in ready to take the lead right away? It’s vital that you determine how much experience is needed to ensure the ideal outcome of the project.
- Identify the ideal candidates by asking the right questions. The right individual can only be found through a thorough interview process. Make sure you’re asking specific questions about their background and experience, and find out what their typical project management methodology is. Ask what their biggest challenges have been and how they’ve overcome them, what tools and resources they regularly utilize, and watch how well they’re able to communicate with you. Hone in on the qualities, skills and experience most important to your industry before making any major hiring decisions.
- Use a skills-based approach. This step goes along with the previous one. It could be extremely helpful for the interview process to include a short test that truly evaluates key job-related skills. For example, if the project involves proficiency in written communication, ask for writing samples or for previous success stories. The project management role requires expertise in several different skillsets, from organization skills to leadership skills, so you’ll want to understand what the most vital skills are to ensure the success of the project – as well as the success of your business.
The bottom line is you first need to determine what skills are most meaningful to your organization before you begin sifting through resumes. While experience is important, keep in mind many project managers end up wearing many hats and find themselves working on multiple projects of varying sizes at the same time. Their ability to make timely decisions and to take action reflective of your business objectives is key to their overall success.
Find Effective Project Managers from Manufacturing Resource Network
Manufacturing Resource Network offers a team of associates with a broad array of both technical and professional services. Founded by Gerry Nejman and Jordan Owens in 2014, MRN’s mission is to provide immediate technical and leadership expertise to manufacturers, ready to fill any role in your company with hands-on professionals who have the right skills and experience. Our manufacturing consulting services provide project managers and executives to fill key roles in every department at your organization, from executive management and operations leadership to manufacturing engineers or technical mentorship.
Get ready to streamline processes and increase revenue by outsourcing your next project management responsibilities with assistance from the team at Manufacturing Resource Network. In addition to project management, we have over 25 years of experience in the complete design of manufacturing processes, as well as supply chain management services, procurement, sourcing and other supplier strategies.
Contact us today to find out more about operational improvement with manufacturing consulting services from MRN.