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Project Coordinators vs. Project Managers: What’s the Difference?

The project management field offers a variety of employment opportunities. There are entry-level positions in administration and labor. There are lower, middle, and upper management positions. Two of the most in-demand are project coordinators and project managers. And yes, there is a difference between the two.

Despite the two terms sometimes being used interchangeably, the industry recognizes a distinct difference between them. For starters, project managers tend to be senior managers. Coordinators work underneath them. Together, project coordinators and managers oversee the administrative aspects of a given project. They work with staff members, vendors, and clients to ensure projects are completed on time and on budget.

With all that said, you might be interested in learning more about the differences between the two positions. If so, you should find the following paragraphs quite informative.

What Project Coordinators Do

A project coordinator is a type of business professional who assists with administrative tasks relating to specific projects. This individual can work directly for the company in question or be employed by a project management service provider like Georgia-based Janiko Group. Nearly all of a project coordinator’s tasks are administrative in nature, though there are exceptions to the rule.

Project coordinators:

  • Manage project calendars
  • Communicate with staff members and vendors
  • Prepare assignments for teams and individuals
  • Track changes relating to budgets, goals, specs, etc.
  • Work with HR to develop and implement policies
  • Develop cost containment procedures
  • Maintain adequate resources, including supplies.

You could make the case that a project coordinator is the project management equivalent of a CEO’s administrative assistant. While there are some distinct differences between the two positions, they are actually quite similar. A project coordinator tends to be the project manager’s right-hand man or woman.

What Project Managers Do

A project manager is a type of business professional tasked with providing leadership during each and every phase of a company’s projects. Project managers supervise coordinators, team leaders, middle managers, etc. They tend to report directly to company ownership or C-suite executives.

Project managers:

  • assist executive management in developing goals
  • create detailed plans for each assigned project
  • estimate projects and prepare budgets
  • hire employees and contract with vendors
  • establish deadlines and work schedules
  • check work for quality, compliance, etc.
  • delegate tasks to teams and individuals
  • provide regular updates to executive management.

Note that the tasks listed here for both project coordinators and managers represent but a small sample of what these two types of professionals do day in and day out. The fact is that each project is unique in some respects. Therefore, different tasks are required by different circumstances. What project coordinators and managers in one industry do may look nothing like what their counterparts in another industry do.

Outsourcing Project Management

Working as a project coordinator or manager does not necessarily mean being employed by the company whose project you work on. The previously mentioned Janiko Group illustrates why this is so. Janiko Group offers project management-as-a-service (PMaaS). They employ the project managers and coordinators who end up doing the work for their clients.

It is interesting to note that the company’s services can be utilized in a number of ways. One client might want comprehensive project management under a long-term arrangement while another might want to contract only project coordination services. Yet another might choose on-demand project management as and when needs dictate.

Project coordination and project management are similar in some ways. However, the coordinator position is more administrative while the management position tends toward leadership. Both types of professionals are necessary to ensure projects are completed successfully.

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