Hiring project managers (PMs) solely for their project management expertise is becoming increasingly popular. One of the biggest objections trade PMs have heard in the past was “you don’t know the industry.” However, a project manager with experience will be more advantageous than industry knowledge.
The “Accidental Project Manager”
Historically, the person on the internal project team with the most experience, or who seemed to be the most organized is appointed project manager. The PM industry refers to this person as the “accidental project manager.”
The problem with this approach is the rate of failure and percentage of projects going over budget. According to the Harvard Business Review, on average, projects go over budget by 27 percent of their intended cost. Additionally, Gartner reports that projects over $1 Million have a 50 percent higher failure rate than those budgeted at $350,000 or less.
The margin of error is costly. Still, organizations have handed the project responsibility to people with limited experience. Simply put, a poorly managed project can cost you millions of dollars.
Growth in Project Management Specialization
Due to the rate of failure or rate of overrun, there’s been an increasing appreciation of project management as a standalone profession without specific technical industry knowledge.
A bachelor’s degree in project management is attainable from multiple universities. Additionally, there are several certifications and credentials available from The Project Management Institute (PMI), the globally recognized trade organization for project managers.
Benefits of a Dedicated Project Manager
Project Managers may not have an in-depth technical knowledge of the organization, but the inverse is also true. Certified project managers understand stakeholder and expectation management, communication planning, critical path, and resource allocation limits. PMs are trained to ask the right questions that lead to a complete comprehensive project execution plan.