Project management, at its core, requires at least two roles to work as a team to ensure that everything possible is done to keep the project team on track. The project manager (PM) plans and leads the project while the project coordinator (PCr) handles the details, such as setting up all the meetings, taking notes and recording action items. It is very difficult for one person to manage both ends of the spectrum.
The role of a PCr in project management is one akin to an archivist. They document, organize, and maintain control over any details that will provide valuable information to the project.
Proactive Project Coordination
The ideal PCr is always working ahead and prepared for a meeting. The team just needs to show up and do their work because the preliminaries have been taken care of: making sure the meeting room is clean and arranged for the meeting, agendas handed out, sign-in sheet ready, projector on, conference call or virtual meeting started.
PCrs take preparation one step further to anticipate what PMs or other team members need. For example, I partnered with a PCr that was proactive in setting up meeting dates with a very busy ten-person team. Because she was planning between two weeks and a month out, she was able to find time slots where we could have many team members available for each meeting. This made the difference between an on-time delivery and a delayed delivery. The client had been more than a little skeptical that we could hit our promised delivery timeline and was very impressed when we did.
As archivists, project coordinators keep track of all the various documentation to ensure that the correct versions of documents are sent to the appropriate reviewer and that only the correct document gets posted to a shared repository once it is completed and approved. Often we are managing projects that have several vendors involved, so the notes are the only record of what took place during the meeting, what decisions were made, and who agreed to do what. We can refer back to the notes if there were to be a question of what occurred during meetings.
The PCr lists all of the action items at the end of the meeting and pushes them out to team members immediately following the meeting. This is important because action items can make or break a project and if people can act on them when they are top-of-mind, they are more likely to do them and do them well.
I have worked on projects without a PCr and it is not a pleasant experience. It fell to me to create and distribute the agendas, conduct and facilitate meetings while taking notes and keeping track of action items all at the same time. For that particular project, I took notes live and on-screen, so it felt like a high-wire act. I could have done a much better job (with a lot less stress) if that client had hired a PCr. If they had, we could have covered two or three projects for them instead of just a single project.
Bringing It All Together
The details that a project coordinator works with help bring things into focus and contribute to the larger project. For example, a PCr often works on several different projects simultaneously and is usually aware of work being done on a separate project that could impact your project. When there is a crossover like this it is only possible to know about these impacts because the PCr pays attention.
Another great example is when we were working with a client who needed a survey done with the public to gather opinions and comments. Our PCr put together a whole strategy of rollout timing and publicizing reminders to get maximum public participation for the survey. Our PCr had a past experience where she had done a similar rollout. It made a big difference in the response rate and our client was extremely happy with the results.
That’s what we love to see as project managers. We hope to positively affect our client’s projects in a way that offers them the power to manage their business, rather than their business managing them. Learn more about netlogx’ project and program management services or request a consultation to see how we can help give you the power to manage your business rather than your business managing you.
Learn what it looks like to be a project coordinator and how the role impacts a project by downloading our project coordinator guide.