Nobody wants to have to bring on a new project manager (PM) mid-project, but it happens. Whether your current PM is leaving the firm, they’re underperforming, or you’ve simply identified a new need, there are many reasons why it can be necessary to bring on a new PM to an ongoing project.
If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know it can be stressful and chaotic, but it doesn’t have to be. Not only can everything go off without a hitch, but in some cases, a fresh set of eyes can actually improve the project overall. So if you’d like to learn our three-step process for seamlessly bringing on a project manager mid-project, read on.
Step #1—Do Your Due Diligence
The first step to making the change to a new PM a success is to identify the right person for your project. Look for a PM who’s curious and knows how to ask the right questions at each step. To help you reduce the stress of finding the right PM, here are some other things to consider before you start the interview process:
- Understand why you need a new PM for your project and your expectations
- Outline your working preferences and look for a PM who can adapt to those needs
- Research your top candidates on LinkedIn and other professional network connections to get independent information about the PM
Additionally, before you select a PM, ensure that you’ve clearly communicated the project’s scope to make sure this person is the right fit for the role. (As stressful as bringing on a new PM can be, going through this process multiple times is a nightmare.)
Step #2—Prepare the PM with Comprehensive Onboarding
At this point, you’ve selected the right candidate and it’s time to get started. Begin by setting up an introductory meeting between the new PM and all project stakeholders. This meeting is a great place to communicate details about the project, how it fits into the overall business strategy, and its end goals.
During onboarding, you’ll need to give your new PM access to previous documentation and materials relates to the project so that they can form a picture of what happened before they got involved. Allow the PM to interview internal and external stakeholders to identify what’s been working, any risks to be aware of, and how things can be improved.
Step #3—Set Up Recurring Meetings for Evaluation
Once you’ve onboarded your new PM, set up weekly accountability meetings with them to get their perspective on how the project is going and how they’re fitting in. It’s easy to get caught up in the urgency of getting the project back on track, but if your new PM doesn’t mesh well with your company culture, you could have to start this whole process over again (losing even more time, energy, and resources). In our experience, weekly meetings can also help the team discover project issues.
For example, a consultant of ours joined a project as a PM and the client quickly realized that the resources they’d allocated to the project were insufficient. Initially, the client thought that the PM’s role could shift to part-time once the project schedule delays had been identified and a new go-live date for the final cutover was created. But during one of these project evaluation meetings, the client realized that they needed to revise their plan, keeping on the consultant as PM for 50 percent of the project and system administrator for the other 50 percent.
By regularly checking in, the client was able to maintain the pace and expectations of the project. Additionally, the client gained trust in the PM once they saw that they could troubleshoot any new challenges that arose.
Bonus Step—Communication is Key
Technically, communication isn’t a separate step on its own, but we thought we’d throw it in at the end anyway because it’s that important. Whether you’re looking for a new PM, bringing them up to speed on the project, or you’re in the thick of things, it is critical that you keep the lines of communication open between your stakeholders and your new PM. Every project—ones led by their original PM and those managed by their 10th—runs into problems. There’s no avoiding them. But if your team is aligned, flexible, and willing to adapt to any changes, you can cross that finish line.
Far too often, bringing on a PM mid-project is anything but seamless, but it can be. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to parachute a PM into your current project, Surety Systems can deploy the right one for your unique situation.
Our team of experienced project managers and consultants can assist you with your implementation at any stage of the process. Contact us today to get started.