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The Beauty and Benefits of a Project Coordinator

Oh, how we love a great project coordinator.

In some organizations the terms ‘project manager’ and ‘project coordinator’ are used interchangeably. They shouldn’t be.  They are separate and distinct roles.  In this article, we use the following definitions of a project manager and project coordinator:

Project Coordinator:  An operations expert and leader who is responsible for developing, scheduling and executing a variety of activities for a project. This may include assisting with the planning, organizing and communication of project activities and technical resources to help ensure a successful outcome.  The Project Coordinator (PC) reports to a Project Manager.

Project Manager:  The person who is ultimately responsible and accountable for project results.  The Project Manager (PM) also has the authority to make key project decisions.

Benefits of a Project Coordinator

Organizations that follow the structure of this definition know that great PCs are invaluable to the success of every project.  Here’s why:

  • Great PCs have extraordinary customer-facing skills– As the ‘face’ of many projects, this is a critical must have skill for PCs.
  • They understand their role – Knowing when to defer decisions to the PM and when to make the call themselves.
  • They learn and adjust to new environments and cultures quickly – Need we say more? This competency is especially important when PCs are assigned to multiple projects, concurrently.
  •  They have above average organizational skills – PCs are the backbone of your project and their organizational skills help keep the project moving at a steady pace to meet ‘on-time’ requirements.
  •  Great PCs are talented problem solvers – They tend to use a structured process to research and clearly identify a problem, test one solution at a time, and stick with the problem until it’s resolved.
  •  They have a sense of urgency and strong follow-through skillsFollow-through is a function of good organization, time-management and a deep sense of satisfaction from completing tasks.
  • PCs are extremely comfortable and capable with project management technological tools  – At a minimum, PCs should be familiar with communication, project management platforms and diagramming tools.

The beauty of great project coordinators is the symmetry and harmony they maintain with the PMs they support and teams they lead.  This can’t be taught in any classroom or text book; it’s part professional skill and part personality.  We honor and appreciate great project coordinators for the key role they play to help deliver projects on time, on budget and within scope.

True greatness consists in being great in little things.  -Charles Simmons

What benefits of a project coordinator (PC) have you experienced? Post a comment to share your experience.

Chrystal Richardson is Managing Partner of CE Wilson Consulting, a project management and business efficiency consulting firm that has managed projects for technology, mining, medical, utility and manufacturing clients since 2001. Her PM DNA blog brings together the head and heart of project of management.

PM DNA Blog - by Chrystal Richardson
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