Project Manager

The Productivity Problem

Regardless of which industry your organization operates in, one thing is certain: When tackling a new digital project or initiative, such as launching a new mobile app, conducting a UX overhaul of your website, or building a new job board, the level of productivity you receive from your teams is paramount to the success and ROI of the project.

While this is an obvious truth, it’s one that is too often overlooked. If fact, according to a United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study–published just last month–productivity in the American workforce declined by 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2016, year-over-year. While that number might seem insignificant, it helped contribute to a 4.5 percent spike in unit labor costs.

Part of the reason why workers have seen a decline in their productivity, is because they’re often working longer hours today, than they were a year ago. According to the same BLS report, the decrease we’ve seen in productivity, coincides with an increase of 1.5 percent in hours worked.

So, while employees are working harder, they’re not necessarily working smarter or more efficiently, leading to a lower ROI for the employer.

Technology Isn’t Always The Answer

Often times, when a company is struggling with a project it’s because their digital creative team is off their timeline, are pacing beyond the set budget, or have encountered one or more unforeseen obstacles. When this occurs, the natural reaction for the organization is to look for a quick and easy fix.

As such, many organizations will turn to project management software solutions to help keep employees on track, divvy up project duties, and help improve efficiency. However, there’s a serious problem with this approach that is almost always overlooked.

Mainly, the software alone will not lead to greater productivity or efficiency in your organization by itself. Rather, it relies on the employees who use the software to (1) consistently use and rely on the software as a component of their day-to-day tasks, (2) oversight by a manager or team leader to ensure all are using the software properly and for intended purposes and (3) that the use of the new software not create extra steps that inhibit employees from doing their jobs at least as efficiently as they did prior to the software implementation.

The True Value of a Project Manager

Which is where project managers come into play.

Project managers are professionals who own the strategic role of ensuring new projects, initiatives and programs within an organization, first and foremost, meet the goals and business objectives of the organization and, secondly, ensure these projects are completed in the most timely, and cost-efficient way possible.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI):

Project managers are change agents: they make project goals their own and use their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team. They enjoy the organized adrenaline of new challenges and the responsibility of driving business results.

They work well under pressure and are comfortable with change and complexity in dynamic environments. They can shift readily between the “big picture” and the small-but-crucial details, knowing when to concentrate on each.

Project managers cultivate the people skills needed to develop trust and communication among all of a project’s stakeholders: its sponsors, those who will make use of the project’s results, those who command the resources needed, and the project team members.

(You can read their entire project manager description here.)

But the true value of a project manager can be found in the numbers and not just in their professional descriptions.

According to research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), 80 percent of “high-performing” projects are led by a certified project manager. While that statistic alone might be impressive, it’s value is magnified when put in context.

If we are to look to the ROI of project managers, we must consider research by ESI International. According to their 2013 study, when taking into account average salaries and training costs, the ROI of hiring a project manager are as follows:

  • Entry Level: 501 percent ROI
  • Mid-Level: 238 percent ROI
  • Senior Level: 358 percent ROI

Interestingly enough, many organizations admit to not fully understanding the value of a project manager. In fact, according to recent research by PMI, that number sits at about half of all organizations surveyed.

By streamlining processes, focusing project teams on specific goals and milestones and through the implementation of project management best practices, a project manager can help organizations more easily and consistently meet a project’s budget, scope and quality standards all while staying on schedule.

To learn how you can get in touch with top project management talent, contact Onward Search today and we’ll put you in touch with an industry-specific recruiter who can satisfy your needs.

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