Project management leverages a specific set of specialized knowledge, skills, and techniques to deliver valuable outcomes for the public, organizations, or groups. There was a time when project management was utilized in specific work environments. However, today, some version of project management can be found in virtually every workplace and industry — including accounting.
What is a Project?
A project is a planned undertaking that follows a designated process with a defined beginning and end. Projects are created to address and solve immediate problems, generate significant improvements, or change processes. Projects can vary in length based on complexity and scope; some are completed in just a few weeks, while others are created on a long-term timeline, such as new traffic configurations or new construction at a medical facility to allow the facility to offer cutting-edge treatments.
What is a Project Manager?
Project Managers begin, execute, and complete projects by using:
- Effective communication
- Organization and time management
- Team management
- Adaptability & problem-solving
A Project Manager is essentially involved in all phases of the process, from initiating and planning to execution and completion. A skilled PM will wear multiple hats to monitor project progression, manage project risks, prepare follow-up actions, and apply technical and quality standards. They will often follow up on the project status to measure success milestones and ensure the project transitions to a working process flow. Project managers will often conduct a project evaluation review to assess how the project was managed, what was done correctly, and what could have been done in a different way.
Why Hire a Project Manager?
Why do companies hire project managers? Project managers provide a point of contact and disseminate project information and updates to key stakeholders. They increase project efficiency, collaborating with team members to confirm action items in the project and accountability for them.
Project Managers manage time and deadlines, helping the project team calculate the time a task takes and remove any barriers to meet deadlines. By working directly with outside vendors, project managers oversee contracts and terms, track invoices, and ensure vendors live up to the terms of the agreement. A project manager increases the likelihood a project will be successful, stay within budget, and be completed on time.
Project Management in Accounting Firms Benefit the Firm and Clients
There are several benefits to using a project manager in an accounting firm — both for the firm itself and, most importantly, for clients. In the accounting industry, hiring a project manager can help firms stay focused on the following:
- Strategic planning
- Developing new ideas
- Managing complex operations
Project managers at accounting firms help financial advisors plan, organize documentation, manage tasks, and ensure that deadlines and deliverables are met — on time and on budget. By focusing on objectives and plans, project managers help to reduce chaos and increase efficiency, supporting the leadership team and allowing team members to stay focused on their roles.
Properly managing project costs helps accounting firms stay competitive, optimize resources, and increase the quality of client deliverables. Ultimately, project managers help leaders stay focused on the big picture and achieve the mission of providing excellent tax and accounting skills to clients. Accounting teams with a project manager spend less time figuring out and streamlining processes and more time focusing on tasks and engaging with clients. The accounting team has more bandwidth to answer questions, seek answers, and keep things moving forward on the client’s behalf.