What type of project manager do you need?

The role of the project manager is becoming more and more critical in recent years and at the same time, many businesses continue to dramatically underestimate the need for a capable project manager. Part of this problem comes from the fact that project professionals come in several different flavors and understanding what type you need could be challenging. Here is how we mentally segment the various types of project managers at Flow Logic. This is a high-level classification used for the initial assessment of our clients’ needs. Internally we use a proprietary competence framework for more reliable job profile development e.g. specific certifications etc.

Internal vs. External – One of the most fundamental ways to differentiate the project management work is to assess if the project manager will be working on internal or external projects. The main difference here is the client-facing component. If the project involves a client, you will need a more experienced and “client-ready” project manager. Most project managers start working on small internal projects and gradually move up and work with clients. Some, however, prefer to remain in the internal domain working only within the company. Client-facing in project management does not come naturally for most managers – putting an internal project manager to work on a client-facing project is a big risk.

Industry/ Functional expertise – Another common way to differentiate a project manager is to assess the requirement for industry or functional know-how. From an industry perspective, a classic example would be the so-called “IT project manager” i.e. project professional with subject matter expertise in IT. These are normally required in a smaller scale single-function projects. Another example would be “Software Development Project Manager” i.e. a project professional who potentially has experience with the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) model, some sort of Agile project management methodology, etc. A typical functional project management example would be “Finance Project Manager” or “HR Project Manager”. These are normally subject matter experts within the function who also have project experience and would like to work on small projects within a single function. As a rule of thumb, a “pure-play” project manager is not supposed to have functional know-how because the projects are normally large (cross-functional) and such know-how could cause imbalance and introduce bias.

Special projects – There are some special types of projects that require a particular approach e.g. lifecycle, custom execution phase, tools, etc. One such category is “Transition and Transformation Project Manager”. The scope of the project is to transition and potentially transform (on the fly) a group of processes from one part of the company to another. These are very common in the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing World) and require a very specific project management skillset.

A mix – Some projects require a mix of the above. For example, if you are looking for a project manager in a BPO to transition finance processes from Germany to India then you are essentially looking for a client-facing, Finance, Transition project manager. If you want to transition the financial processes from 15 countries to India you will need a program manager who manages the individual project managers executing the transitions.

Managing Project Managers – If you have more than 3 big projects you most probably have more than 1 project manager. Once you have more than 3-4 project managers it is a good idea to have a program manager who acts as their people manager. Program managers are accountable for the success of all active projects of their project managers and act as their line managers. To be able to retain and manage a group of project managers, program managers must be able to motivate and develop them.

Owning a team of world-class project managers is expensive and requires specific know-how. You need to know what to look for when you hire them, how to keep them busy, how to onboard them, what tools to give them, how to keep them motivated, and how to manage them on a daily basis. In the past, ultra experienced project managers have been accessible only to fortune 500 companies who can afford them as full-time employees or on a need to have basis through consulting companies at a premium price per hour.

Flow Logic offers project management as a service through our PMO Practice globally at fair prices and 100% satisfaction guarantee. We will provide a world-class project managers that matches your organizational development needs on flexible contracts. Get in touch with us for a 30 min non-commitment meeting where we can discuss your project management needs.