You’ve probably heard of both of these job roles before, but do you know what the difference between a project manager and a project coordinator is? Read on to find out what these two job roles are, what their similarities and differences are, and how the roles look in a real company.
What is a project manager?
The role of a project manager is a strategy-oriented role in an organization. The project manager is responsible for the planning, direction, and execution of one or more projects. Project managers create strategic goals and communicate with upper management, clients, and project coordinators. They deal with budget and time constraints, making sure that the project is completed. Often, they also take on the role of a mentor and leader for project coordinators with the ambition and potential to develop their careers and get into the project manager role.
What does a project manager do?
A project manager is responsible for the project scope definition and the general direction of where the project is going. Their scope of authority includes planning and approving costs and budgets related to the project, as well as allocating and re-allocating human and other resources during the production phase – all of this while having the schedule and due date in mind.
Project managers are dedicated to risk assessment, quality assurance, troubleshooting potential issues and documenting the process as the project goes along. This is then used for communication with stakeholders.
Read on: Simplifying The 5 Ps Of Project Management.
What is a project coordinator?
A project coordinator is the person responsible for organizing and managing the project, multiple projects and/or parts of the project. Ideally, a project coordinator will have strong communication, time-management, and planning skills. This role in the organization is a mediator connecting team members with the project manager.
You could see the project coordinator role as an administrative role within first-line operations, based on the type of tasks this role is assigned in most companies.
What does a project coordinator do?
The main responsibilities of a project coordinator include project logistics, ensuring the project is going according to the project manager’s plan, scheduling daily tasks for team members, organizing meetings, monitoring daily progress of the project, creating reports, financial documentation, invoices and other documents for project managers, upper management and/or clients, ensuring necessary supplies for the team, and some bookkeeping tasks.
Read on: This Makes Project Coordinators The Key Players.
At first glance, the project coordinator and project manager roles seem to overlap and require many similar skills and abilities, but when shadowing these two positions within the same company, you can begin to see the differences. Often, the individual in the role of project coordinator ends up being promoted into the project manager role.
A project coordinator takes care of all the daily tasks needed to keep a project running smoothly. They coordinate the actions of other team members to make sure that everyone is working toward the same goals on the same schedule. Project coordinators direct other employees, but the project manager is the one who is ultimately responsible for the success of the project.
Project managers need to recommend actions to their supervisors. For example, a project manager for a clothing store might let their superiors know that they should increase production of the most popular items.
Keeping in mind that there is some skill overlap between these two positions, it is important to note that the skills differ in terms of frequency of use and manner in which they are used for reaching a goal.
- Leadership – The highest level of leadership is required for this position.
- Persuasiveness – The ability to persuade superiors, subordinates, clients, vendors, and distributors.
- Seeing the bigger picture – Being able to see the entire project from beginning to the end, correctly separate it into tasks and milestones which will then be delegated to the most appropriate project coordinator/team.
- Critical thinking/decision making – Evaluating and analyzing situations based on evidence and experience, and making quick and effective decisions.
- Problem solving – Despite precise planning, for various reasons, projects tend to get off track. Project coordinators are expected to prepare in advance, anticipate types of problems and their timing, and have contingency plans already in place to solve any arising problems. They are expected to be able to solve problems or find a way to overcome them.
- Communication – The ability to communicate clearly and concisely, both vertically (superiors, subordinates) and horizontally (clients, vendors, distributors).
- Organization – Prioritizing tasks, prompt delegation and multitasking are the essential parts of this skill.
- Time management – Multiple tasks within a project are often co-dependent; one cannot start prior to the other finishing, so managing tight deadlines is a crucial skill for a project coordinator.
The position of Project Manager is a senior position that requires ongoing training and upskilling to meet the role’s demands. It is recommended to gain professional certifications that demonstrate your abilities and give you the skills you need. Some examples of these include:
In Rare Crew, we have both project managers and coordinators working closely together in order to see through all our projects. These roles are responsible for production as well as quality control and maintaining certain standards that we offer to our clients. Both functions are responsible for multiple projects at the time. Both functions are in contact with the client – frequency and topics are what differs.
The two obvious skills that both roles share are soft skills and the ability to multi-task. Although they share these skills, they utilize them differently.
The similarity between these two occupations allows for internal or external promotion from the role of coordinator to the role of manager, which comes along with experience working in a particular industry or company.
How does that look in practical terms?
The roles of project coordinator and project manager exist in our company, so we can use it as an example of how the roles function in a real work environment.
Project coordinator at Rare Crew
- Collects and analyzes requirements from clients and records them with a dedicated tool.
- Assigns tickets to developers and helps with clarification.
- Maintains and monitors progress of the development process.
- Keeps track of the current state of development and arranges testing of tickets.
- Maintains quick checks and helps test software.
- Maintains TestRail tests.
- Performs UAT.
- Plans releases with clients and fills the checklist for each release.
- Organizes daily scrums with team members.
- Checks for new tickets in the Helpdesk regularly and takes care of them.
- Fixes all issues reported by the integrity check in Vault-ERP.
- Sends a project status update weekly.
- Reports security issues.
- Evaluates team members on a monthly basis.
- Reports possible issues to project managers.
Project manager at Rare Crew
- Prepares a project plan based on the project’s scope.
- Organizes meetings with clients.
- Prepares quotes for additional services.
- Plans and manages projects and/or sub-projects in higher-value projects according to project standards set by Rare Crew and the customer.
- Project or program initialization (project acquisition, scoping, prioritization resources) using Time Tracking and Time Off Modules in Vault-ERP.
- Performs project audits.
- Implements best practice approaches for improving project management performance through the Checklists Module in Vault-ERP.
- Evaluates offers and solution concepts.
- Designs and further develops project management standards, methods and processes.
- Selects and substantiates the optimum solution for systematic and early identification of project risks, as well as for avoiding/eliminating risks at a contractual, commercial and technical level, taking into account future developments and the impact on the overall project environment.
Although the differences between the two roles are subtle, they are important, especially if you’re looking to get involved in project management and coordination in the future.
Does project management or coordination sound like it could be for you? We are always interested in speaking to people with passion for project management. Email your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch with Zuzana Matuskova if you have any questions.