Project Manager Vs Project Coordinator (With Differences)
Those who have an interest in working in the project management field can consider becoming a project manager or a project coordinator. Both project managers and coordinators play a significant role in ensuring the success of any project. Knowing their key differences can help you decide which position to pursue. In this article, we discuss the differences and similarities between a project manager vs project coordinator, and learn 'How project coordinators can become project managers?'.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.
Project Manager Vs Project Coordinator Roles And Responsibilities
Comparing project manager vs project coordinator roles helps you choose a job that suits your career goals. Here is a description of each role to help you learn more about them:
What is a Project Manager?
A project manager is someone who leads a project from inception to completion. Their primary responsibility is planning and overseeing the execution of a project. Project managers are accountable for the project's scope, budget, resources and how the project performs. They work through every stage of the project's lifecycle and help separate projects into different phases. Some project managers even oversee every phase individually to ensure high-quality work from start to end. These managers can work in many industries, such as construction, software, healthcare, law and technology.
What is a Project Coordinator?
A project coordinator works in an administrative role that primarily supports the work of a project manager. They ensure a project progresses efficiently. Part of their job involves developing standard operating procedures, making appointments and compiling documents. They may perform administrative tasks, such as bookkeeping, billing and ordering office supplies. This helps ensure that everything runs smoothly, so project managers can achieve the company's goals.
Differences Between A Project Manager And Project Coordinator
Here are some differences between the two roles:
Within the same project, project managers are senior to project coordinators. While managers ensure the completion of the project, allocate tasks to team members and ensure client satisfaction, coordinators focus on administrative duties, and ensure the project team has what they require. Project managers have more experience than project coordinators.
The job duties of a project manager differ from a project coordinator because of their seniority. The following are some duties of a project manager:
Developing ideas and converting them into actionable project plans
Forming a team that handles different project tasks
Overseeing project teams and ensuring all team members understand, and fulfil their duties
Creating a project team for handling different project tasks
Submitting the completed project to managers or clients
Meeting with project team members to resolve potential conflicts and challenges
Ensuring the project is running on time and within budget
Ensuring the project delivers the expected outcomes and benefits
Handling any changes to the project when necessary
Giving updated reports to their client and supervisor
Training and coaching team members to ensure they perform to the best of their capabilities
Creating progress reports and a final report documenting the entire project
Developing strategies to foster innovation and leadership in project teams
The following are some duties of a project coordinator:
Maintaining and monitoring project schedules, project plans, budgets, and expenditures
Preparing necessary presentation materials for team meetings
Coordinating project resources, schedules, equipment and information
Tracking and analysing project liabilities, and opportunities
Gathering data and tracking the project's success
Organising contracts, invoices, reports and financial files
Overseeing the project's progress
Creating project timelines and team schedules
Providing administrative support to project managers
Determining and handling potential project changes
Assessing project risk and providing solutions wherever applicable
Managing relevant documents related to the project
Preparing spreadsheets and reports giving details about every aspect of the live project
Supervising various project processes, communicating with clients and directing team members to complete their assigned work
As project coordinators report to the project manager and they have a narrower set of responsibilities. The task of a project coordinator starts after the planning stage. They liaise with different parties and focus on completing analytical work. Conversely, project managers are accountable for the project's success and prioritise tasks for team members. They report directly to a programme coordinator, programme manager or client. Project managers often work on multiple projects, whereas a project coordinator typically focuses on only one project at a time.
In addition, project managers take major decisions and are accountable for their results. Project coordinators generally do not make decisions independently, although project managers may give them the authority to make some decisions. Both managers and coordinators work closely with each other to complete their projects on time.
Education and experience
The project manager and project coordinator roles require different educational paths. Because of their seniority level, many employers prefer project managers with a degree in management, business or related areas. Pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Management, Finance or Marketing increases your chances of advancing into a manager's position. Before pursuing your MBA, focus on completing your Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Management. Additionally, candidates may work as project coordinators for some years before advancing into a project manager's role.
While there is no specific educational requirement to become a project coordinator, employers expect them to have relevant communication and administrative skills. Most project coordinators complete their senior secondary from a recognised board before pursuing a BBA in Management or a Bachelor of Management Studies. You may pursue project management courses or postgraduate studies to impress employers and increase your competency. You may seek administrative and management positions to improve, and gain relevant skills. Individuals may work as project assistants before their promotion to a project coordinator job.
While project managers and coordinators possess similar skill sets, project managers usually require excellent leadership skills. Project managers supervise and direct everyone working on the project, requiring leadership skills to manage team members. They also need planning skills because they focus on project planning and may conduct a risk analysis. Employers expect project managers to be resourceful because it helps them buy and manage resources to execute a project. It also involves the optimum utilisation of resources.
Similarities Between A Project Manager And Project Coordinator
Here are some similarities between a project manager and a project coordinator:
Here are some essential skills for both project managers and project coordinators:
Project managers and coordinators use their communication skills to interact with different people. This skill set helps managers communicate important details to project coordinators, vendors and team leads. Strong communication skills help them deliver instructions and receive feedback from senior management. Project coordinators use this skill to share project expectations with team members so everyone knows their role.
Both roles require excellent organisational abilities to manage their time, projects and departments. Project coordinators use this skill set to manage documents and ensure all project files are in order. Project managers use their organisational skills when managing and handling multiple projects simultaneously.
Skilled project managers use their problem-solving skills to define what problem a project is facing and how they can avoid confusion, and misunderstanding in the team. They develop strategies to overcome such issues. Often, project coordinators may encounter challenges the project manager did not anticipate while creating the plan. Problem-solving skills help these coordinators handle project-related challenges and deliver quality work.
Both project coordinators and project managers work in offices during standard business hours, and spend close to 40 hours per week at their jobs. The industry in which they work may affect their work environment. For example, project coordinators and managers working on a construction site may often visit job sites, but those working in the software industry may strictly work in an office environment.
How To Become A Project Manager From A Project Coordinator?
If you are a project coordinator, you may advance to become a project coordinator by following these steps:
Develop relevant skills. Project managers require strategic thinking, planning and leadership skills to execute projects to completion. As a project coordinator, focus on developing these skills to increase your chances of securing a project manager's job.
Pursue your higher studies. Most employers expect project managers to have a degree in management because it imparts relevant skills such as business sense and management. Before planning to become a project manager, pursue an MBA or similar postgraduate degree.
Complete professional certifications. Often, project coordinators complete different certifications, such as Project Management Professional and Certified Associate in Project Management from the Project Management Institute. These certifications show employers you are a competent and well-trained project manager.
Create your resume and apply for project manager roles. Create a resume reflecting your new educational qualification and certification. After updating your resume, apply for a project manager's job at a company where you want to work.
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