In simple terms, this person is an expert in their field, ideally, with years of experience.
They also need to have great leadership and communications skills to get the team on board towards a common goal.
They identify a problem (unless the company has already done so), offer solutions and see the whole process through from start to end once they are on board.
They find the organisation new and better ways to do things.
Companies hire them because they have the ability to add value, such as saving money in the long term and improving business health.
They take responsibility and make sure the project is completed within the timeline given and is within budget.
Often it makes business sense to hire a consultant rather than a full time employee, for a short term project, as they come in with a fresh perspective and knowledge of best practises in the industry.
An external party is also free from the usual office politics that can hinder real work. This is especially so in cases where change is needed for the company to move forward.
It’s not an easy job, but it can be very rewarding.
We often get overwhelmed by the idea of all the things we need to get done. We are paralysed by the notion that there is not enough time.
It’s easy enough to make a to do list, but to plan your tasks well is a little bit more complicated.
You need to prioritise those tasks, estimate how long each one takes and the hardest part of all – decide which should have your attention first. And things are not static, often what you thought of as just one task may lead to other tasks. Or some tasks may be on hold as you are reliant on other parties to finish their part first. Often tasks are dependant on other tasks. For instance you need to get a permit before you can start construction on a building.
The tasks that should be given the highest priority is the one that will get you closest to your goal. For clarity then you first need to establish your goal for the particular project at hand.
But of course many tasks are time sensitive (if you don’t get your visa in time you won’t get to make that business trip), and so those must be kept in mind.
The list needs to be reviewed daily to see what has been accomplished. This will keep you on track. Often what is measured is what gets done. That’s just human nature. It’s also why you find that you can get your work stuff done as you’re accountable to someone else like your boss, but it’s harder to get personal stuff done as you’re accountable to yourself.
Often I wish I could have a project manager to manage my life. It’s why people get the help of personal trainers if they want to achieve the goal of loosing weight and getting fitter.
It’s much easier to focus on tasks rather than get overwhelmed by the idea that you won’t have enough time. When you prioritise, you can focus on a single task at a time and get that done. It is much less stressful this way – mono-tasking as opposed to multi-tasking.
I admire project leaders who can maintain their calm amidst all the stress of a huge project.