“Project manager wanted for a challenging project” – the request sounds promising. Whoever accepts it may live to regret it, however.
A project can be coordinated, led, or managed. So before accepting a job as a project coordinator, a project leader or a project manager, you should be aware of the different aspects of these activities. Depending on the specification different skills are required, and there is some significant divergence of opinions about the vacant role by both the customer and the project manager.
The following table gives a brief overview. It can be used as a checklist for project candidates to quickly assess the essence of the advertised task.
|Project Coordinator||Project Leader||Project Manager|
|Budget responsibility||none||none to partial||complete|
|Say in team building and team management||none||partial||complete|
|Overview of the scheduling||dependent on various supervising managers||dependent on a few line managers (eg. head of department)||full control of all activities|
|Focus of the team target agreement||project neutral||partially project, partially hierarchic||project centered|
|Duration of appointment||without a solid target||usually with a time target||with a time target|
|Profit sharing of the project manager||never||rarely||subject to negotiation|
|Escalation paths||project staff -> organization hierarchy||various mixed forms||project staff -> project manager -> organization hierarchy|
|Most important skills||Excel, Word, punctuality||additionally: MS Project, adjusting and keeping schedules, joining the conversation with regard to contents||additionally: resource management, leadership, expertise, various aspects of project management|
However, there is no judging of the roles in this classification. It’s perfectly okay to take the job of a project coordinator rather than a project manager, and it’s as easy to find exciting projects in strong matrix organizations as it is to discover boring and frustrating projects in project-oriented organizations. It is just important that the candidate knows what he / she is getting involved in, so that surprises and frustrations can be avoided.