In my first role managing projects, my new boss looked at me and asked, “So, how will you pay for yourself?”  I had not even found a desk yet, and I was already on notice for negating my overhead burden!

While some might find this question rather harsh and unwelcoming, I found it oddly appropriate and key to my success.  After all, what business can just add a professional to the payroll without considering the return?  I was a bit stunned by the direct question of my value, or more simply, the value of a project manager, but answering it shaped the successful delivery of projects for years to come.

So, your business needs to make changes.  And projects are a perfect vehicle to deliver changes.  Can you afford a project manager, and will they be worth the extra cost?  A project manager that can maximize these three crucial elements will help keep the business focused on the results instead of her cost.

Calculated Project Selection

Only do the projects worth doing; the ones that directly advance the strategic goals of the business.  Scrutinize the business case and run the numbers.  Don’t rely on emotions and anecdotes; collect the data, do the research and use the business’s history to shape the most likely outcome.  While some businesses determine the projects and assign them to a project manager, it is still the project manager’s duty to thoroughly understand the business case in order to deliver the desired result.

Project Scope Management

Scope creep is a very real, and potentially very expensive (up to 10% in one study), challenge.  Clearly defining what project success will look like, followed by careful statement of the critical elements, ensures the right scope is planned.  Add to that a disciplined but not constraining change management process, and scope creep can be snuffed out.

Meaningful Stakeholder Relationships

Typically defined as stakeholder “communication,” it’s really more than that.  Projects can change lives; positive relationships are foundational to delivery.  Although the project manager is facilitating and directing the show, every person the project touches has the power to derail efforts, and cause the most well-planned project to drag behind schedule, spend over budget or fail to meet quality requirements.  Or, with the right relationships, stakeholders can be the boldest champions, helping a project exceed all expectations.

Don’t hold your business back from making needed changes.  The right project manager will deliver value beyond her cost to the business.