When we first started writing this series earlier this year, I included this particular myth in the first myth post. But I dedicated more words to this particular myth than the rest of the post. This tells me that this myth is so important it deserves its own post. Let’s dive in and discuss Part 2 of our project management myths and focus on this one extremely important myth.
– Susan Fennema, Fractional COO & Owner of Beyond the Chaos
Project Management Myth: “Anyone in the office or team can manage the project… I don’t need to hire a Project Manager”
Busted! We personally know this is a myth because Beyond the Chaos would not exist if this were true! But… why is this a myth?
People often disregard project management as a specific skill. When they believe that myth we often hear them say something like:
- “So-and-so is already working on this project, so why don’t they manage it too?”
- “Adding another person to the project will slow it down.”
- “We don’t need to spend the money on a project manager.”
It’s true, project managers don’t typically bring to the table a “hard skill” or technical skillset, like knowing how to code. The skills they bring are more intangible. But their end result is always tangible.
Let’s break down those intangible skills that a project manager brings, and why you absolutely need a dedicated project manager for your project to succeed.
Project Management Isn’t Just One Skill. It’s Many.
Managing a project isn’t just one thing. It’s so many things. As their titles suggest, project managers are responsible for managing and leading an entire project through initiation, planning, execution, control, and completion. That requires many different skills.
According to the Project Management Institute, a project’s success rate improves by approximately 40% when project managers possess and nurture the ideal skillset – a powerful mix of technical, leadership, and business management expertise. This also means knowing how to communicate, be client-facing, and be able to mitigate risks.
Project management is NOT a tactical job like paperwork or running status meetings that another employee can float in and out of when things get busy. Project managers must have a totally different skill set than your developers, creative teams, and even stakeholders.
Say you’re short-staffed at the office. Would you want your developer filling in to run payroll? Would you want your billing person to take on some extra software development work? Heck no. But for some reason, it’s easy to think just anyone can fill in for managing a project.
Are you seeing how this role can’t be done off the side of someone’s desk? It takes more than just a meeting to keep projects on track. With any of these skills missing from someone who’s managing a project, the project could end up in flames.
Project Managers Represent Everyone
Who is advocating for every team member and the project’s goals? The project manager is. Project Managers are the diplomats that help reach compromises and define tradeoffs for finishing projects. They also free up the rest of your team to focus on what they’re hired to do instead of getting distracted by following up with their co-workers’ late tasks or getting bogged down in things that aren’t their responsibility.
If you had a developer managing their own work, there’s a risk they could be too in the weeds. They might not be thinking about the big picture or often aren’t realistic about their own hours. Instead, they’re focused on their own tasks and not the overall strategy. People who are individual contributors to a project cannot act as a neutral party, or advocate for the project or the team. A project manager helps your team focus on what they do best and what matters the most. And, helps everyone deliver their best work.