The Project Manager plays a crucial role when it comes to developing and deploying a project. A PM is liable for the success of the project by ensuring accurate planning, execution, and management of the project life cycle. Companies typically utilize two types of project managers – contract project managers or in-house project managers.
Contract project managers are hired as a temporary employee for a pre-determined period based on the agreed terms. These managers complete the project (usually without much supervision) and are bound by an agreed-upon completion time and deliverables. Contract PMs are paid for the completion of the whole contract.
On the other hand, in-house project managers are hired as full-time employees within the organization. In-house PMs are supervised under the senior management team and receive a fixed salary on a monthly basis.
In some instances, small companies cannot afford an in-house manager. When a company gets a project that needs to be completed in a short period, hiring a contract project manager is a preferred option.
In this article, I will discuss the key points that should be considered when hiring contract PMs, the nature of projects suited for contract and in-house PMs, the advantages and disadvantages of contract and in-house PMs, and more.
Now, let's understand a couple of factors that you must consider when deciding to hire a contract project manager.
Hiring a contract PM is much cheaper than an in-house PM if you need them for a specific task or a short duration of time. They are only paid for the time they work and are not provided any perks as compared to full-time employees. Full-time project managers, on the other hand, are provided company benefits such as insurance, educational assistance, extra certifications, and paid leaves. Unlike contract PMs, in-house PMs are treated as assets for the organization.
A key consideration when choosing between contract and in-house PMs is whether you will build another project using the same technology or not. If a new type of project is offered to you and the technology used in it is popular in the market (and you hope to receive more such projects), it can prove beneficial to hire a full-time project manager.
The hiring of contract project managers also depends upon the time required to complete a certain project. Usually, people are hired on a contract when work needs to be completed in a short duration and the company does not have resources available. If a project requires long-term engagement, then a full-time employee is usually preferred. Contract-based employees are not reliable over the long term as they can leave in the middle of a project.
Not all projects are suitable for contract Project Managers. Thus, it's important to understand the kinds of projects for which Contract Project Managers should be considered.
Some projects have a large budget and a long completion time. As mentioned earlier in this article, contract Project Managers are not suitable for a project that has a long completion time. Contract project managers are suitable for projects that are short-term, low on budget, and require work to be done on a new technology that the organization lacks expertise in.
Contract project managers can also crank a lot of potential out of people since they are used to it. If a team member is dealing with a problem in development, the project manager can help out by suggesting alternatives, solving the issue, or utilizing their network to come up with a solution.
Contract PMs can also provide quality work in a short amount of time. Let’s say a boutique development agency has got a new project based on blockchain. Blockchain is a relatively new technology, which makes it difficult for the company to acquire the desired skills. Thus, hiring a contract project manager who has experience in blockchain can be helpful for the company.
In the previous section we saw the kinds of projects suited for contract project managers. Now, let's understand the same with regard to in-house project managers.
In-House Project Managers usually work on a limited number of technologies and are experts in them. Projects that have a high budget without any strict deadline are more suitable for in-house project managers. The work required on such projects is consistent over a long duration.
In projects where quality is considered above time, in-house project managers are an ideal choice. Let’s say an SME gets projects every week in the field of React Native, Django, and React.js. In such situations, it is beneficial for the company to get an in-house project manager who can handle one or more such technologies. Moreover, since people with skills in these traditional technologies are available in the market at a much cheaper price compared to emerging technologies like machine learning, IoT, and blockchain, it’s a preferred way to go.
Hiring contract project managers has its own advantages and disadvantages. So let's review some of these criteria to get a better understanding.
· Cost-effective: Contract PMs are often seen as a cost-effective approach for an organization, as the work is completed within a defined budget.
· High productivity within a specified time limit: Contract PMs are skilled in specific domains, thus delivering high productivity on specific projects.
· Effective for short-term projects: Being time-bound, contract managers have to get the project done within the specified duration as per contractual agreements with the organization.
· Not suitable for long term projects: As compared to in-house project managers, contract managers work on short term projects. They are paid according to the time/deliverables as per their engagement in the project.
· High probability of contract PMs leaving the project as compared to in-house PMs: Contract PMs are not full-time employees and work for many different organizations at the same time. Thus, it might be difficult to retain them on a project for a long duration of time.
Now, let me tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of in-house project managers.
· Flexibility: In-house project managers provide better services as they are more flexible when it comes to handling multiple projects. This is because they are full-time employees of the organization.
· Experts of a few technologies: If the company is getting multiple projects built with the same technologies, then it is better to hire a full-time project manager.
· Works better when there is no strict timeline: In-house PMs might run into some issues on the project. They are supervised by the senior management team within the organization. This can lead to more time being spent on administrative and bureaucratic procedures, thereby delaying the project.
· Less cost-effective on low budget projects: Being a full-time employee, managers are paid every month as per company norms. Thus, if a company does not have a regular flow of projects, in-house PMs can turn out to be expensive.
· Inability to work well on new technologies: Full-time project managers are skilled in some technologies. If a company gets a new project which requires some new skills, then in-house PMs may not be trained on that particular technology and skills.
As we saw above, both types of project managers have their advantages and disadvantages, but it depends on your business model and project types when it comes to deciding. No one can be perfect in making such a choice, but when the time comes, all the factors should be considered. Every little factor contributes to whether the project would be a success or not.
The choice also comes down to the HR manager who hires the project managers, since they have to decide whether the person is right for the job or not. The more experienced your HR manager is, the better their judgment is likely to be. If they are a good judge of character and skills, then they would hire a person based on both their qualifications as a leader and their technical prowess. In the end, it finally boils down to the requirements of the project, time limit, budget, and a few other factors.
Crowdbotics pairs its contract project managers with developers to ensure that every project gets a corresponding subject matter expert who excels at managing projects within the concerned domain. Crowdbotics allows you to hire contract project managers for any duration, with flexible billing models where you can either pay on an hourly basis or on fixed milestones.
If you are interested in hiring one of Crowdbotics' contract project managers, please contact us here. Crowdbotics can provide contract PMs for any type of software development project.
As we saw, each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice varies from business to business. Thus, if you are looking to start a new project and are confused whether to select a contract project manager or an in-house one, this article should help you.
August 10, 2020