Katie Bascuas is an associate editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC.
Lisa Stefanoff, chief information technology director at the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, describes how a project manager drives toward results. [Titled "Stay Focused" in the print edition.]
Associations Now: What is the value of a project manager?
Stefanoff: We're all busy. Whether in IT or other departments, people are struggling to get it all done, and time is one commodity we can't create more of. The skilled management of a project, its resources, and timeline will ultimately save money by keeping focus and avoiding scope creep.
At NASFT, we've found that when dealing with interdepartmental teams on a mostly IT project, the objectivity and neutrality of a project manager is needed to mediate and mitigate changing specs and moving targets. A skilled technical project manager will rein you in when needed in order to achieve the results you seek.
What qualities are important in someone managing a tech-related project?
They need to be well rounded with an understanding of many technologies in order to properly manage the whole project. A good project manager is someone who can interface with all of the resources involved—internal departmental folks and also any tech vendors involved.
What projects lend themselves well to a project manager?
It's difficult to bring in a project manager if the project doesn't have a very clear beginning, middle, and end. You need clear objectives. And know what the endgame looks like, because if there isn't clarity on that, there isn't going to be a clear way to define what has to happen and what the timeline is and what resources are required.
Katie Bascuas is associate editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org