Many organizations don’t fully understand the benefits of project management. Here’s how your skills and expertise help organizations deliver greater value for their efforts.
This article was originally published on September 30, 2016, and has been updated.
Can you easily explain the value you provide to an organization as a project manager?
You don’t make sales, write code, or provide customer service. Can you explain how you help your organization provide more value?
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, besides 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 and the benefits of project management.
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.
When given the chance to talk about my value to the company as a project manager, I couldn’t clearly explain it.
Luckily, it turned out well in the end…
Even though upper management didn’t understand the value of project management, my coworkers seemed to find value in my work. They shared they relied on me for scheduling, coordinating, and ensuring that everything came together successfully.
Overall, it all turned out well for me. I was seven months pregnant, so I prepared for the baby. Soon after, I managed a team of project managers in a Project Management Office.
But this experience taught me a great lesson: be able to explain the value you bring to the organization.
You must understand your value to the organization in order to deliver the most value and grow in your career.
With that in mind, I want to layout multiple benefits of project management, and how you bring value to the organization in that role. From project planning all the way through to solution delivery, project managers provide the expertise to ensure successful delivery and happy customers.
Benefits of Project Management: Improving Organizational Performance
Project management helps organizations get the most value from their efforts, no matter what industry they’re in.
Benefits of project management include delivering solutions on time and on budget, saving money, and increasing customer satisfaction.
Below you’ll find a long list of the ways project management helps businesses consistently deliver value.
The Benefits of Project Management
1. Clear Ownership for Project Success
Projects rely on many people working towards a common goal. But the project and team needs a leader to drive the project forward and take a broad view.
Team members look at their individual responsibilities from a narrow perspective. But the project manager takes ownership of the overall project. She works across teams to address issues, track milestones, and keep the project on track.
2. Organization and Planning
The project manager works with the team to create schedules, budgets, and other components of the Project Plan. This gives the team clear direction and sets expectations for management and customers regarding each project deliverable.
3. Team Accountability
The project manager holds team members accountable to honor their commitments. This helps the project stay on track and avoid schedule slippage and missed dependencies.
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 gathers information on the project cost and creates the project budget during project planning. Going forward, she also manages project spending through the course of the project and ensures the project stays on budget with no surprises.
6. Schedule Management / Meeting Customer Commitments and Deadlines
The project manager helps the team stay on track. She works with the team to build the project schedule and identify milestones and deliverables.
The PM also manages interdependencies across teams so all project pieces come together as needed.
She also keeps the team focused on meeting key dates and milestones.
This single point of contact for the team removes confusion regarding who’s coordinating and leading the effort. This ensures more successful project delivery.
7. Project Scope Management
Customers often ask for scope changes.
The PM can help show how this affects the project. If scope changes are indeed needed, the project manager can manage the impacts to the project schedule and budget.
8. Risk Management
Risk management includes identifying risks early in the process and addressing them before they cause problems. It also involves managing change throughout the project by tracking changes and communicating them effectively.
The project manager identifies potential risks at the beginning of the project. She works with the team to actively manage risk throughout 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 build quality into the project from the beginning.
The PM ensures the team follows appropriate processes, such as gathering requirements and testing where appropriate. The team may need to follow compliance guidelines or contract considerations. Throughout the life of the project, the PM coordinates multiple activities to address quality.
10. Record Keeping and Administrative Responsibilities
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. 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’s responsible for the success of the project, the PM brings all the information together and provides visibility to project health.
Project management software allows teams to provide information and provide real-time project health. Team members and stakeholders can get faster updates on status and metrics. The team can proceed or adjust as needed based on this information. This saves the organization time and money in the long term.
12. Organizations 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 depends on many different team members, you need to bring that project 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.
The project manager communicates with stakeholders and the team throughout the project. She uses effective communication methods like email, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings to get the message across.
For complex projects, communication plans layout who manages different types of communications throughout the project.
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. Project managers communicate with both internal and external stakeholders.
- 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. Some ways the project manager does this:
- Communications on timing and delivery.
- Training for new solutions or processes.
- Getting ongoing support in place.
This provides a better customer experience from beginning to end.
Project management provides benefits to organizations that need to deliver solutions.
This value carries through from the team level all the way to stakeholders and executives. Project managers use project management software, other project management tools, and project management skills to ensure successful project delivery.
And you, as the project manager, drive and lead and ensure the organization gets the benefits of all you do. This makes you immensely valuable to any organization you work with. From the team level to the boardroom, where they’re looking at results and the bottom line. Be proud of yourself. You’re a project manager.
If you want to keep this list handy (it will help when preparing for performance reviews and executive discussions) download it here: