Outsourcing project management is one of the smartest moves you can make for your business. You may like being at the helm, but you are more needed elsewhere in your business. Your position as business owner means that you are more valuable as the one who charts the course. Project management outsourcing allows you to let someone else steer the boat. This way, you can keep making all those great plans that get you to the next and the next level.
What is Project Management?
Project management entails using certain knowledge and skills to ensure the delivery of a product. Coupled with tools and techniques, this product can become of even greater value to the people you intended to serve. No matter what that project is – department expansion, office software, physical infrastructure, social services – properly managing it matters.
The whole point of project management is creating value for others through various services, products, and processes. These can be short-term or long-term solutions, and accomplished quickly or needing more time to execute. Managing the process is all about setting up the proper structure. This helps you make sure that the people involved can do all the tasks that are part of realizing the project to a high standard.
Even with all the automation options that are available to us these days, you will almost always need someone to take the lead. This person will be responsible for initiating phases of the project and planning the smaller details. They will also check periodically that each phase is executed on time and without compromise. This is important to the success of the project, and in tandem, the success of your business.
Assigning Project Management
Now, you can do this yourself, but we think that’s not the best use of your time or talents. You can also get a partner or department manager to do it. But taking on this new role will usually leave a gap in the role they were previously taking care of. Neither of these is good for your business.
A third option is hiring a new person to manage your projects. Since the volume and difficulty of projects varies, we cannot recommend hiring someone in-house. You may not have enough work for them to do month over month to justify the expense. This is especially true when you have projects that require different skill sets.
Outsourcing in project management means that you look elsewhere for help. Instead of drawing from your internal resources, you hire someone from outside your company to take on the role of project manager. Still, you may not be able to give them full-time work. This is why outsourcing project management to freelancers is the option we suggest you explore. You hire them for as many hours as you need, and then you part ways clean and clear.
What Are the Tasks And Responsibilities of A Project Manager?
Project management outsourcing may not be the simplest thing, but we can help you do it well. Outsourcing in project management hinges on understanding the role that you are hiring to fill. You want to make sure that you have the right person for the job so you don’t waste a lot of time.
The first step is to become familiar with the task and responsibilities involved in project management. Then you can start looking for someone to fit the bill in a more targeted way. Here they are, along with the skills a person needs to fulfill them.
First and above all, project managers take the lead. They lead in terms of managing timelines and budgets. They also lead in terms of managing expectations and people on the project team. Managers may not be the ones who set these targets, but they are in charge of meeting them. Everything rises and falls with the leader. So, a project manager must know how to bring all the moving parts together to ensure success at every stage of the project.
That said, we see a few vital responsibilities under this umbrella.
A project manager needs to handle work schedules within the team. This isn’t just making sure people get to work on time and don’t miss too many days. Different people on a project will often have interrelated tasks to do. This means they do work that is dependent on the work that has already been done by others. If these others don’t finish their tasks on time, then the first group of people will not be able to work. That created a jam that your business will likely pay for. Project management means juggling timelines so that work flows and you aren’t paying for people to sit around waiting for other people to get going.
Timeline management does involve money in terms of the labor hours that you’re paying for. And, yes, people are a big part of the money spent. For example, a project manager will also have some degree of control over personnel. They are on the ground, so to speak, so they know who is needed to do what. If the current roster isn’t cutting it, they can recommend additions and replacements within the project team.
But budget management is a bigger picture than who’s on the payroll. The project budget covers all the tools that each team member uses, down to the last paperclip. It also includes the power that each piece of equipment sucks up, and the space they all occupy for the duration of the project. Computing all this and staying on top of it can be a full-time job in itself for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing!
All of the above plus setting proper expectations is part of this area of responsibility. Project managers care for the needs of the team. How well they engage and direct people often determines how well they perform. And this means better performance from the team as a whole, too. Proper motivation keeps everyone balanced to meet the set project goals without burning out.
Conflict management is in the mix as well. Whenever you put a bunch of people together, there’s no telling how they will all get along. Honestly, unless they’ve worked well together before, chances are there will be some friction. If the manager does not deal with it, you will soon begin to see the effects on productivity.
Outsourcing in project management might seem to present challenges in team motivation. We have found, however, that hiring people who don’t work in the same office can be even better. You can quickly spot the self-starters, who are always better to have on any team. You can also see how everyone makes that much more of an effort to connect precisely because an easy pat on the back isn’t possible. They actually have to find something concrete to compliment each other on, and this works much better as a motivating factor.
Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Project Management
Outsourcing project management means that you are letting go of a greater degree of control. This can be a benefit because it means you can’t easily grab control away from the manager. It can also be among the top outsourcing risks if you are not managing the manager. Yes, you still need to lead because you are still the top leader as the owner of your company.
One setback that you need to watch out for stems from the fact that an outsider won’t automatically understand your business. This means that you’ll need to take some extra time in the beginning stages to help them acclimate. A good freelancer will always do their best to use whatever information you supply them with to learn about your brand and goals. But, you need to fill in the gaps because they can’t learn in a few days what it took employees months and years to get the hang of.
One definite advantage of project management outsourcing is the cost. When you hire from outside the country, you usually pay much lower rates. This is because the cost of living is often cheaper elsewhere in the world. So, even if you’re a startup, you can afford proper help from professionals to ensure the success of your projects.
The level of savings you can enjoy only doubles and even triples when you factor in skills and experience. Just because the cost of living is lower in other countries, it doesn’t mean that intelligence, educational level, etc. are lower, too. In fact, many countries in the third world boast more college graduates than the west! This means you can hire top talent with loads of experience for half the cost.
Don’t forget the much larger talent pool you get with outsourcing. You can not only find excellent managers, but those with experience in the various niches you need for each project. And when you’re hiring freelancers, you can engage a different manager for each project. This way, if the technical level of your projects requires it, you can get perfect matches in terms of skill sets every single time.
Important Things To Know When Outsourcing Project Management
We have three non-negotiables when it comes to outsourcing project management: infrastructure, communication, and agreement.
By infrastructure, we mean the technology they have available to support their work. The minimum here is a stable internet connection and a reliable computer or other internet-enabled device. This connection and device must of course be capable of sustaining all the aspects of their work. Specifically, this can include the CMS apps you use, and the communications channels you prefer.
For communication, it can be minimal or more complex, depending on your systems. At the very least, as hinted at above, the manager must be able to use the communication channels your business has set in place. This is because they need to be able to keep you updated and promise seamless contact with every member of the team. Communication also touches on working times. They will most likely be in a different time zone, so they will need to have a level of overlap with everyone else to stay in touch.
In terms of an agreement, it again depends on what you’re comfortable with. We just want to make sure that you are doing your best to make sure you are on the same page with anyone you hire. As the business owner, you will set the expectations for the project manager. When you’re confident that you understand each other and know what’s expected, work should go smoothly.
How Do I Hire A Project Manager?
The best way to handle project management outsourcing is through online channels. You can engage a hiring agency, join virtual assistant websites, or reach out to individual freelancers.
If you go the agency route, you can find agencies that will do everything for you, and you talk to one contact point. You can also find agencies that will simply connect you with candidates. This is more like how a freelance marketplace would work. The difference is that you have more control with an agency. They are better equipped in most cases to provide more personalized service and security. With freelance websites, you have larger talent pools, but not necessarily the highest levels of security.
The owners of Outsource School have hired several project managers for their other businesses over the years. They have mostly gone with these two options. The third option, hiring one on one, is possible, but risky. You are contracting with an individual overseas. You have no third party running verification or backing you up. So, we don’t recommend this unless you got a referral from a trusted associate.
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Project management outsourcing is definitely not the same as outsourcing for other positions. This is a management role, and it comes along with greater expectations. This means that you need to be more careful when selecting a hiring partner as well as selecting the actual manager. Managers also have access to higher levels of your company, so security around them must become tighter.