Life without Project Managers: Why chance it?

September 19, 2023

By Akilah Baddoo

For many years, project managers have been a crucial component needed to accomplish multifaceted projects that require keen planning and organizing. In recent years, the emergence of self-organizing teams and independent collaboration have shifted the playing field. This change bringing the necessity for project managers into question. The ruminating debate of whether an era without project managers is possible or even feasible is now in question.

A Super Role for Any Project

I’ve been a Project Manager as far back as I can remember. As a young girl growing up in a busy family, it was clear that we needed someone to organize and plan family events. My Project Management skills, like Clark Kent’s “S” on his chest protruding from his shirt, stood out. Fast forward to today, I am a Senior Project Manager in the HCM world. Now with over two decades of experience successfully managing projects.

Whether it’s a dream wedding, a kitchen remodel, or a 50th birthday party, a solid project manager should define the tasks and work toward a successful outcome. Similarly, a complex multi-million-dollar system implementation with thousands of employees and many moving pieces must have a project manager to ensure its success.

Identifying a Project and the Need for Project Managers

A simple definition of a project is a series of tasks with a defined beginning and end with a specified outcome. All of these events can clearly be defined as projects, where a project manager can add tremendous value. Imagine being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company with 4,500 employees across 20 locations. Your organization has high turnover, with managers complaining about payroll processing taking a week to complete. With antiquated systems that force your workforce to rely on manual processing, strategic planning is often behind the curve. Let’s add to the chaos and imagine you have an audit to complete in a couple of months. Due to antiquated systems and the accuracy of your reports being questionable, you’ve also recently received rumblings about a new wave of disgruntled employees. 

Given these complexities and issues a CEO would be facing in this scenario, addressing these issues would be of utmost importance. So how would you remedy this situation?

This unfortunately was a real world situation, where the CEO attempted to remedy the situation by hiring an onsite support group that consisted of only Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

Unfortunately, in this real-world situation, it was not evident to the group that this was a project and therefore needed a dedicated project manager. Within one month, the wheels began to fall off, and this group quickly descended into chaos. The group was without focus, defined tasks, or communication plans. It became obvious that the group needed someone to manage the overall project from implementation to execution. Someone also responsible for communicating clearly to the CEO. The CEO reviewed the lack of progress. That was when he recognized that this was a project and needed a Project Manager. HRchitect was brought in to assist with Project Management, getting the team and the project back on track for an on-time and on-budget go-live with their new system.

Critical Advantages Through Project Management

Even a highly qualified team of experts will benefit from the skills a Project Manager brings. When assigned to the project described, I immediately utilized six critical ingredients for a successful recipe taken directly from the Project Management Institute (PMI). These are:

  1. Smart Planning
    1. Developing work breakdown structures and timelines for the project
  2. Define the Project Scope
    1. Determine the deliverables and their deadlines while also identifying the risk factors
  3. Communication Plans
    1. Sharing information with the project leads, team members, and project sponsors
  4. Timely Reporting on Project Progress
    1. Ensuring seamless project reporting process against budget, schedule, and agreed upon scope
  5. Ongoing Task Management
    1. Allocating tasks to relevant team members and monitoring the process for change orders and timely task completion
  6. Project Closure
    1. Ensuring successful delivery and completion of the final project deliverables

Project Management as a Strategic Competency

Project managers thoroughly understand project management approaches as a strategic competency. They provide tools and techniques, enabling them to develop detailed project plans, specify goals, set reasonable deadlines, and effectively allocate resources.

PMI reports from the current state of Project Management, “Only 58% of organizations fully understand the value of project management. The importance of fully valuing project management cannot be emphasized enough; organizations that undervalue project management as a strategic competency for driving change report an average of 50% more of their projects failing outright.”

In my role as Project Manager, I have had decades of achievements. I have levereged my project management expertise in my personal life as well as my professional life. For example, I have planned and managed extravagant family events and a dream wedding in addition to having launched successful business ventures and countless HCM implementations for my clients. Using project management tools and techniques was a strategic decision to ensure the success of these projects. Project Managers and project management can be invaluable in many aspects of life.

My Professional advice to you is, “Don’t do it alone!” You might be able to have a life without project managers, but why chance it?

About the Author

Photo of Blog Author, Akilah Baddoo

Akilah Baddoo brings over 20 years of project management, implementation consulting, and time and attendance experience to the HRchitect team. Akilah is a decisive, action-oriented, and results-focused professional with excellent project management skills. She excels in sharing resources, team building, and cultivating relationships. She even manages projects as a hobby in her personal life! Akilah excels in maintaining client relationships, developing project scope while exceeding timelines and delivery dates, process improvements, and conducting project updates to optimize client satisfaction. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Phoenix, Arizona.

To learn more about Akilah, check out her profile on LinkedIn

Further Reading

Read more about Project Management Tools in Kathryn Lopez’s blog “Embrace the Power of the RACI Matrix.”

Contact HRchitect for Project Management Assistance

If your organization is about to embark on an HCM implementation, be sure to have a Client-side Project Manager available to assist in this critical role. HRchitect has skilled project managers available to help you. Contact us here to request more information. 

Join us at HRchitect.

If you have great experience in the role of Project Manager or HCM Consultant, check out our careers section and the current opportunities for more information on how to join our team.