If you were asked to explain the benefits of project management and the value that you bring to your organization, would you be able to do it? If you had to defend the overhead costs of someone who doesn’t make sales, doesn’t write code, and doesn’t provide customer service, could you easily provide that information?
Unexpectedly, I found myself in that very position.
When I was a newer project manager working at a startup company, the president asked me to come into his office and explain what I did. I was one of two project managers. I had little interaction with the company president. His focus was growth and profit. Therefore, he may have seen me as an unnecessary expense.
So there I am in his office, uncertain of why he’s called me there.
“What do you do?” he asked.
Yikes. That was such a broad question. Since it was a start-up, in addition to managing implementations for new customers, I worked on many types of activities. I loved identifying a need and jumping in to address it. For example, I created processes for security and onboarding new customers, as well as standardizing documentation. But the question at hand was so big and completely unexpected.
“What do you do?”
So here was my chance to describe the value I brought to the company as a project manager. I had an opportunity to explain the benefits of project management to the organization.
And I choked.
I showed him my documents and process flows.
He seemed unimpressed.
I believed the company hired me because they already understood the value that project management provided. Maybe not.
They laid me off shortly after.
However, my coworkers seemed to find value in my work. They shared that they’d come to rely on me for scheduling and coordinating and ensuring that everything came together successfully.
Nonetheless, it all turned out well for me. I was seven months pregnant, so took the opportunity to prepare for the baby and went on to manage a PMO not long afterward. But this experience taught me a great lesson: be able to explain the value you bring to the organization.
With that in mind, I want to lay out multiple benefits of project management, and how you bring value to the organization in that role.
Project Managers Help Organizations Improve Performance
Jordan Sims, director of organization relations and programs for the Project Management Institute, explains in his article “Realizing the Value of Project Management” that “Regardless of an organization’s industry or mission, project management is the value driver that helps organizations get the most out of their performance. ”
For those of you who find yourself in a position to explain the value that you bring as a project manager, I’ve compiled a list of ways that your work increases the chance of project success.
It’s important to realize that delivering solutions to customers on time and on-budget, saving money, and increasing customer satisfaction are huge benefits of project management. Below I provide a list of ways that you do this. Download it and keep it ready in case you need to extol these virtues of your profession.
The Benefits of Project Management
1. Clear Ownership for Project Success – While there are usually multiple team members working toward a common project goal, you need to have someone in an ownership role to drive the project forward and take a broad view. Team members look at their individual responsibilities. Conversely, the project manager takes ownership of the overall project and addresses issues, tracks milestones, and ensures outside influences don’t derail progress.
2. Organization and Planning – The project manager is responsible for creating schedules, budgets, and other components of the Project Plan. Working with the team to pull all this together gets team input and buy-in, but frees the team up to focus on their main roles. Plus, having a plan sets clear expectations for management and customers regarding the deliverables.
3. Team Accountability – The project manager holds team members accountable and ensures that they honor their commitments. If there were no one to hold the team accountable, there would likely be schedule slippage and missed dependencies. There are many requests on the team to do other things. The team could easily be distracted or asked to reprioritize work that could result in risk to the project.
4. Clearly Defined Scope – The project manager works with the customers and team to ensure that the scope is well-defined from the outset. This enables the team to write clear requirements, and everyone has the same understanding of what to deliver at the end of the project.
5. Budget and Cost Management – The project manager has her eye on project spending through the course of the project, ensuring that it stays on budget with no surprises.
6. Schedule Management / Meeting Customer Commitments and Deadlines – The PM manages interdependencies and sees across teams to keep the schedule on track.
7. Scope Management – While having a clearly defined scope is important at the beginning of the project, it is just as important to manage for scope creep as the project progresses. If or when the customer asks for scope changes, the PM can help show how this impacts the project, and address these by following your organization’s standard processes, if defined.
8. Risk Management – The project manager identifies potential risks at the beginning of the project and works with the team to actively manage for these through the life of the project. As a result, this keeps the project moving forward even if there are threats to the project plan.
9. Solution Quality – The project manager works with the team to ensure that quality is built in from the beginning of the project. The PM ensures that the team follows appropriate processes, such as integration testing and end user testing. Through the life of the project the PM coordinates multiple activities to address quality.
10. Record Keeping and Administrative Responsibilities – True – it doesn’t take a project manager to create documentation and plan meetings. But the project manager understands the project at a higher level and knows when to schedule a meeting and who to bring to the table. He anticipates the need for important project discussions and drives these activities to keep the project moving forward and on track. Additionally, he ensures necessary documents are created and stored for compliance and historical purposes.
11. Visibility to Project Health – The project manager gives visibility to project progress and status. Because she is responsible for the success of the project, the PM brings all the information together and give visibility to project health.
12. You can take on more complex projects – More complex projects have a higher need for overall guidance and management. Having a project manager allows for the successful execution of more complex projects with many interdependencies and more risk.
13. Team Building – Because project success is so dependent on many different team members, you need to bring that team together to focus on the common goal. If there are conflicts, personal agendas, or conflicting desires, the project could stall or churn. A good project manager knows how to bring the team together to work toward common success.
14. Communications – The project manager serves as the primary point of contact for project communications with various audiences:
- Team Member Communication – The PM coordinates discussions on team issues and needs, and facilitates communication across departments. There are many topics to address through the life of a project, such as compliance, risk, and interdependencies.
- Stakeholder Communication – keeping stakeholders updated in various ways, such as status updates, high-level views and information, or more project detail when needed.
- Customer Communication – rather than the development team talking directly with the customer, the PM manages these communications. The project manager answers questions and translates requirements and technical details into terms that non-technical users can understand. The PM also manages customer expectations throughout the course of the project, and coordinates change management activities.
15. Change Management – The project manager works with the organization to ensure that not only does the project work get done, but that the customers are ready to adopt. The project manager plans for changes needed for a smooth transition to the new solution. This provides a better customer experience.
As you can see, there are many benefits of project management to an organization. If you want to have this list handy to prove your great value to others, just download it here: