How Many Hats Can a Project Manager Wear?

May 21, 2015

SPM-4-14Here's another snip-it from the 2nd Edition of Successful Project Management by Ernest Burden. Many project managers are more comfortable with the technical side of the business. The marketing hat that firms are now asking the project manager to wear is just another example of the “PMs are responsible for everything” concept. The project manager gets pressure from both ends. Administration asks them for the financials, then marketing asks for project write-ups, and meanwhile they have to manage the project. The Zweig Group Project Management Study of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms, identifies the multiple tasks that project managers have to perform in the marketing/business-development are firms that have project managers assisting in the preparation of proposals (81%), participating in business development/sales (55%), conducting presentations (60%), making teaming arrangements (47%), and assisting in the promotion of the completed projects (27%). Only 4% of those surveyed indicate that their project managers have no involvement in marketing. Since project managers touch every single part of the business, it’s safe to state that they are the backbone of a firm. According to Jerry Novacek, President, NovaConGroup, project managers are also expected to perform a long list of other responsibilities in a firm, and he points out the three different models of project managers, which are:
  • Model 1 The project manager does some technical work but has a few other people working under his or her direction.
  • Model 2 A project manager who has developed interpersonal skills and some marketing and planning expertise and spends less time producing deliverables than the Model 1 project manager. He or she is looking for 40-hour blocks that are billable but is partnering with the technical project managers on a continuous basis to learn their skills. Jerry says that you only need one project manager for every five technical people involved in projects.
  • Model 3 Project managers are usually the market sector leaders of a group and can manage all Model 1 + 2 project managers. They are highly developed in marketing activities and are able to handle multiple market sectors.
According to Novacek, there are four primary knowledge areas and 12 skill sets – three for each for each knowledge area – that Model 3 project managers are involved with. The Four Primary Knowledge Areas:
  1. Marketing and Business Development
  2. Project Planning
  3. Work Execution
  4. Project Administration
The 12 Skill Sets Knowledge Area #1: Marketing and Business Development On the client front, Novacek identifies the first three skill sets by dividing a firm’s clients into three distinct groups, as follows:
  1. Maintenance clients: Repeat clients based on good client service.
  2. Replacement clients: New clients from the same project types or same market sectors, but clients that may have run out of work, or sectors that the firm is trying to expand their services into.
  3. New growth clients: New clients in other market sectors.
Knowledge Area #2: Project Planning The skill sets required in this area are:
  1. Project workplan: Laying out the tasks for the project in a logical sequence.
  2. Project contract: Participating in or assisting with developing contracts.
  3. Project negotiation: Participating in negotiations for terms of the contract.
Knowledge Area #3: Work Execution
  1. Standards and guidelines: Governing the execution of the work effort.
  2. Products and deliverables: Items that the client receives.
  3. Project phases: Production management within the project team.
Knowledge Area #4: Project Administration
  1. Client management: Beginning with identifying expectations of the client.
  2. Financial management: Including project budgeting, billings, and collections.
  3. Communication management: Control of the entire team throughout the project
Marketing and Business Development The project manager’s task in the marketing area is to identify all present and past clients that should be listed as targets for the next year’s marketing plan. Most project managers also take responsibility for keeping in touch with these clients. As they become involved in the sales process, they are more likely to discover other work that the client may need in the future that the firm could perform. The next step for the project manager is to take on potential new clients with whom they have something in common. Other marketing activities that the project manager is accountable for include knowledge of the firm’s marketing plan, marketing materials, and database functions; active lead development; and securing follow-on work from existing clients. The project manager must contribute significantly to the firm’s efforts in all areas of the firm’s practice, including a marketing role with both existing and previous clients as follows:
  • Bring in additional work from current and previous clients.
  • Participate in initial marketing meetings to discuss proposal requirements.
  • Assist in formulating and preparing proposals.
  • Manage the project team in presentations for new work.
  • Expand the scope of existing work contracts.
  • Get the client to hire the firm for an upcoming phase or new project.
  • Actively seek opportunities for referrals to other prospects.
  • Maintain contact with previous clients to identify new projects.
  • Cross-sell and up-sell all the services the firm has to offer.
Clients should be asked about the next phase in the present project at that facility, related work at that facility, or other operational and maintenance expenditures at that facility. They should also be asked about any of the above at other facilities within the organization. The project manager’s ability to sell both actively and passively can be one of the most significant factors in the selection process for add-on or future assignments. Other marketing skills will be highlighted in the following three chapters, and the remaining three knowledge areas and nine skill sets will be dealt with in subsequent chapters. Project Manager versus Marketer There is traditionally a push-pull that goes on between project managers and the marketing staff. Marketing directors say they need specific for a proposal, such as project information for resumes, project solutions and the project schedules. Project managers say they are spread too thin. Is there an answer to this pervasive dilemma? The following viewpoints have been expressed by veteran marketers relating to project managers and seasoned project managers relating to marketers on a variety of subjects where their responsibilities may overlap in an integrated AEP and Environmental firm. About Marketing The marketer points out that his or her job does not end until there’s a comfort level with the client. They must get the project managers involved up front. Project managers need to be at the meetings with the prospective client to get a sense of any urgency that may be discussed. If the project manager falls down at the beginning of the job, he or she has let the marketing arm of the firm down. The project manager indicates that when a project is signed up, a marketing form is filled out, naming the client, location, size, and services expected. After a project is completed, the same form asks: Can you take pictures, and was it successful? The photographer takes the pictures, the project manager does a write-up that produces a project sheet on details of the success of the project that goes into the firm’s marketing database. About Social Connections The marketer is tasked with making sure that proposals go out on time, as well as making new connections through existing client relationships. There are also social events and personal connections, such as golf outings, dinners, and attending conventions, that keep the marketer connected to current and future clients. In one week’s time the marketer can touch 10-20 clients all in one place, and it’s all budgeted right into the firm’s revenue stream. The project manager recognizes that one of the most important roles is communication; socializing, developing relationship with the project sponsors, understanding how the project is going to be handled, and preventing surprises. That’s part of the ongoing marketing for the next job from the same client. About Proposals The marketer knows that proposals are the best vehicle to show a firm’s expertise, and you really need good marketing materials. Quality is everything. It sends a message to your client that you care about the project. The project manager explains that part of the deliverables in proposals is scheduled meetings, and looks for reasons for the client to periodically review the work in face-to-face meetings. In this environment, something usually comes up – and it often leads to new work. About Trust The marketer advises that, if you have invested a lot of time on a potential client, there has to be a level of trust that the project manager assigned to that client is going to do a great job and that he or she will successfully market that client for future work as well as manage the project. The project manager looks for someone who can step in and take the ball and run with it. The hand-off is really based on the trust that the client has in you. About Opening Doors The marketer can often hold a client’s interest in conversation, then as soon as it gets technical, the project manager can step right in. That technique opens up door after door after door. The project manager sits down with clients and their representatives all the time and has the opportunity to have a foot in someone’s door every day. That has to be capitalized on to keep your company afloat and growing. About the Firms Direction The marketer feels that principals may not want project managers to influence the destiny or the direction of the firm. The project manager knows that principals have always turned to the project manager to see where the coming market would be and where the future of the firm would be. Project managers definitely have the ability to shape that vision These scenarios show just how the project-delivery and marketing functions intermesh, and why integrated management practices are needed throughout the firm in order to effectively control the process. The Zweig Group Project Management Study of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms, showed that a large majority of firms (62%) track revenue from new clients versus repeat business, and that the firm’s repeat clients (72%) account for a large percentage of the their gross revenue. There is good reason to thank project managers for those numbers. How Firms Assist Project Managers in Marketing Efforts. Some firms have developed “Sales Survival Kits,” or manuals, which teach project managers how to market. They explain what materials are available from the company resources and give pointers on proposals, techniques for cold calling, Go/No-Go forms, and other information from published articles. These manuals offer help to get started in the sales process, since it’s not something that comes naturally to most project managers. Other firms use a client relationship management (CRM) database program that keeps detailed information on all items relating to a client and their project. Salesforce ( is a widely utilized CRM. Notes on meetings as well as research are all stored and easily accessible in a CRM. Project managers have access to it, not just the principals or marketing directors. Critics of CRMs say that some systems are complicated and not very popular with the project managers, since they not only have to do their jobs, but also put their information into the system. On the other hand, people in the design and engineering profession are numbers-oriented, so it can help to keep track of this information in a database. Technical people may not always keep track of how many proposals they worked on or how many times they were rejected. If it’s kept in a database, it’s far better than not knowing. For example, those results help firms stop chasing projects they are losing and start concentrating on those they are winning. Another helpful source for information is the Project Management Institute (, an international organization of over 100,000 members worldwide. Initiated in 1969, it has been recognized as the international standard for best practices in project management. PMI publishes a body of knowledge which has become an ISO standard for best practices as to the way a project should be addressed for different processes and nomenclatures. PMI has a certification program, with a written examination where you have to requalify every three years through continuing education. It is the protocol of choice, and some governmental agencies require a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) to run their projects. You can capitalize on PMI and certified project managers in your marketing efforts by promoting that this is considered as industry’s best practice. However, according to the Zweig Group’s Project Management Study of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms, a negligible few firms (1%) require their project managers to hold management-specific certifications. Of those that do, the most common is the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.