It can be difficult to know when to stretch your existing team to fill out a project, start a new hiring process in anticipation of work, or simply hire a freelancer to help complete a project team. I’ve worked with companies as a project lead, temporary project manager, and full-time contract project manager, and it’s not always easy to get freelance hiring and fit right. However, a freelance project manager can help your team and projects in many ways: project on-boarding, dedicated budget and timeline oversight, clearer communication with teams and clients, providing valuable status reports, and overall coming into the project with a fresh set of eyes that gets applied to your vision for the project and team direction.
You’ll know a freelance PM is the right fit for your project if:
1. You’re an agency owner and you’re struggling to set up a system that works. You’ve always managed projects yourself or with your team or business partner. Your team is small and you know you need something more structured to rely on for projects—whether that’s regular, ongoing projects, a big project coming up or growth in client base or team. You might be feeling your focus shift from running your business to trying to organize project systems for the day-to-day yourself, and that’s not ideal for you. You might not have the budget/capacity/time to bring someone in full time as a project manager, and you just want a system that works for your particular situation.
Why a freelance project manager is a good fit: An expert freelance digital project manager has the ability to come in as a consultant and teach you and your team how to create systems for yourself based on your existing workflow. Your team might already work collaboratively, but working with a freelancer with deep project management knowledge can reinforce existing or new frameworks for the team and clean up ongoing project systems to run more efficiently. Just as you would hire an accountant or lawyer to get your business on track from the start, a PM will help you create a system for the work you’re doing and where you’re going in the future, as well as tools to analyze your project success rates. Setting up a project management framework means that you can scale your business and sales more confidently in the future.
2. You’re a small team providing web, marketing, or digital services without official project management capacity. You don’t have a project manager or need more project management capacity to help manage the flow of projects coming into your team. Ideally, other freelancers or remote workers are on the team already—this means your systems, on-boarding, and technologies have been tested and optimized for remote or contracted work. You don’t have enough capacity to currently handle the multitude of projects you take in from the organization, and it’s hard (or impossible) to say no to projects as they come up due to the position your team is in within the larger organization. Hiring contractors or vendors can be typical for specialized projects or scaling up capacity on your team.
Why a freelance project manager is a good fit: You have a process in place for on-boarding and there are support systems and structure for ongoing projects. Projects and tasks are documented, requirements are accessible, so a freelance project manager can act as an immediate true north on the project given the transparent information available. Your freelance project manager can come into the project and immediately make a difference in project velocity and efficiency.
3. You’re a product company with internal projects that have stalled. You know how to manage your products, but you don’t know how to prioritize and tackle your internal projects (such as marketing, company website projects, process or tool changes, or overall project audits). Your internal projects always seem to get pushed as bigger deadlines and more important client work comes up. Product management is taken care of on your team, but you haven’t been able to find the sweet spot for internal projects recently.
Why a freelance project manager is a good fit: You’ll have a dedicated freelance project manager pushing for the importance of your internal projects, with an objective (read: detached from other projects) view of the ramifications of not getting a project done on time or on budget for your own team. You can delegate and finally get those internal projects up and running with little effort on your own part once you’ve got your project manager on board.
4. You are an agency or freelancer with a well-defined, scoped project and need someone to lead it. Maybe you’re working within an agency and the project is larger or more important than typical projects and needs special attention. Or maybe you’re solo contractor or team of freelancers and you need help handling the budgets, tasks, and timelines, so that you can focus on design and development.
Why a freelance project manager is a good fit: Either way, a well-defined project needs a project manager to break large projects up into tasks, timelines, and goals, and assign, track, and provide feedback on project work. A freelance project manager can do all of that plus provide regular status updates to the client and team and manage the firehose of communication on the client side into manageable, actionable tasks.
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