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Project Coordinator vs. Project Manager: Which is Better?

Updated: Jul 27, 2022


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How do you distinguish between a project coordinator and a project manager? Is the work they perform basically the same, and if not, what makes them different?


Suppose you decide you're interested in project management, but you're unsure where to begin. There are two commonly held positions in the field that differ in responsibilities and skills: project manager vs. project coordinator.


You should know what project coordinators and project managers do if you wish to work as a project executive. Discovering how these roles differ can help you choose the right career fit based on your skills, interests, and career goals. Here, we will look at these two career options to help you determine which is best suited to your professional goals.


Difference Between a Project Manager and Project Coordinator


It is very difficult to tell the difference between a project coordinator and a project manager. This is partly because companies decide what kind of work they want to assign to a project manager or coordinator. In fact, many organizations don't even have project coordinator positions, while others only have those who do 'project manager work' and are not the actual project coordinators.


Keeping that in mind, let's first discuss the parallels between the two roles. Project coordinators and project managers both work in a project management environment to ensure a company's projects are completed successfully. They ensure tasks are completed on time and to the expected quality. The ability to stay within budget is also an essential responsibility.


Project Coordinator vs. Project Manager: Key Differences


So far, the two roles sound very similar. Several key distinctions help you differentiate the project manager vs. the project coordinator debate - we've listed them below:


  • As a senior ranking staff member, a project manager is responsible for the project's goals, deadlines, and budgets, while a project coordinator oversees day-to-day operations.

  • An experienced project manager typically has a bachelor's or master's degree in business, management, or a similar discipline. In contrast, a project coordinator typically has a high school diploma or a bachelor's degree and one to four years of work experience.

  • A project manager manages several projects and programs simultaneously, whereas a project coordinator oversees a single project or program.

  • Project coordinators help manage projects, but they cannot make decisions alone, whereas project managers have the authority to do so.

  • Project managers earn an average of $77,420 per year, while project coordinator salaries make up $65,214 per year.


What Does a Project Coordinator Do?


What is a coordinator? Coordinators can help with administrative tasks on a project under the supervision of the project manager. To help meet the deadlines and milestones set by the project manager, they provide the necessary materials and resources for all team members and departments.


So what does a coordinator do? The project coordinator has to know everything that pertains to the project, including the short- and long-term objectives, the project schedule, and the budget. Project coordinator jobs are available in most companies.


The main duties of a project coordinator are:


  • Planning milestones and coordinating the project schedule.

  • Coordinating all resources necessary to complete the project, including people, materials, and vendors.

  • Identifying potential risks and fixing them before they become an issue.

  • Maintaining an updated progress report for stakeholders while keeping team members on schedule with their deliverables.

  • Keeping everyone informed by organizing regular team meetings and sending out emails.

  • The project manager handles budgeting, procurement, and logistics arrangements for the project.

  • Keeping track of all project materials, such as meeting agendas, status reports, action items, and deadlines.

  • Serving as project manager when the project manager is absent.


What Skills Does a Project Coordinator Need?


  • Problem-solving skills: Project coordinators must promptly communicate with employees about any problems they may encounter or consult with management.

  • Leadership skills: They should be able to provide effective leadership and keep teams focused on their goals.

  • Commercial awareness: Providing clients with a suitable product or service requires a thorough knowledge of market trends. This requires them to stay updated on new developments and consumer behavior.

  • Communication skills: The coordinator should interact with team members and other staff members to keep everyone engaged and informed. Therefore, they need to communicate well, listen with appropriate responses, and negotiate effectively with others.

  • Computer literacy: Professionals within that industry need to be able to navigate websites and online services well and have excellent knowledge of the software they use - especially currently. Project management software has become increasingly popular recently.

  • Organization skills: This role requires excellent organizational abilities since PCs manage various aspects of the project. Their responsibility will be to schedule meetings, conference calls, and other related events. They may also be required to prepare presentations.

  • Budgeting: To meet deadlines efficiently, project coordinators must know how to allocate resources efficiently.


What Does a Project Manager Do?


A project manager is a person in charge of the entire project or even several projects at once. You will initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control, and close projects as part of the job.


An effective project manager ensures a project's success and meets its objectives and customer specifications. They have to get projects back on track if they are in trouble.


A project manager essentially does the same thing as a project coordinator. The difference is that they handle tasks that require more authority and responsibility.


Project managers typically perform these duties:

  • Planning and outlining the schedule for the project.

  • Planning and putting together a project budget.

  • Building a team for the project and ensuring that the team remains motivated.

  • Obtaining approval from supervisors and other stakeholders to proceed with the project.

  • Determining the risks involved in a project and taking appropriate measures to manage them.

  • Communication with senior management.

  • Examining work results and project deliverables.

  • Communicating status updates to executives (by way of directing board meetings).

  • Setting priorities and decision-making.

  • Overcoming sudden changes and issues that crop up throughout the project lifecycle.


Project Manager Skills


An effective project manager must have skills similar to a project coordinator. In spite of this, the project manager should have strong leadership skills due to the seniority of the role and the many responsibilities it entails. An example is hiring coaches to help team members achieve higher quality work or improve communication within the team and working with them to solve problems that impede the team from moving forward.


Communication is also an important skill for project managers because it is what they do all day long - via email, phone, instant messaging, notes, the list goes on - and they have to communicate with everyone from the software developer up to middle management and executive levels, and possibly even the CEO.


Project managers must also have good planning skills. They must turn a vision into a realistic and achievable project plan, detailing the steps required to achieve the project goal.


In addition - even though it is not a skill in itself - project managers must have the ability to endure extended periods of stress. Nowadays, projects have very short deadlines, and the workload can be very dense.


Project Coordinator vs. Project Manager: Do They Share Skills?


In spite of the fact that project management and project coordination are two distinct roles, there is a great deal of overlap when it comes to responsibilities, as well as skill sets. Consequently, many project coordinators become full-blown project managers after gaining sufficient experience and training, whether within their current companies or by seeking out more senior positions elsewhere.


Both disciplines require a high level of multitasking and communication skills. In particular, project managers need to wear multiple hats without allowing any of them to fall to the wayside, and coordinators will also have an array of responsibilities to take care of.


Moving From a Project Coordinator to a Project Manager


difference-between-project-manager-and-project-coordinator
Project coordinators advance to become project managers.

This is a good stepping stone for those who wish to become project managers after being project coordinators. It won't happen overnight, however. It is imperative that you expand your project coordination skills and be on the lookout for any job openings. The following tips can guide you through your transition:


Improve Your Skills

Leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills are better suited for project managers than for project coordinators. Soft skills are crucial, and you should have strong communication skills at all levels. In addition, you need to demonstrate that you can resolve conflicts effectively and remain calm under pressure.


Prior to managing any project, it is necessary to specialize in your field. Developing your soft and technical skills is the most important part of specializing. Using the tools and software needed to effectively manage projects is another essential skill and ability to communicate and lead.


Don't Be Afraid to Take on More Responsibility

Don't be afraid to ask your boss to assign you more duties if you think you can handle them. During the time that the project manager is on annual leave, ask your boss to cover the duties! A customer workshop or user training could be a good example of a coordinated group of activities.


Obtain a Certification

Certifications in project management can increase your chances of gaining a promotion. PMP, or "Project Management Professional," is a widely respected certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). The good news is that you can even pursue your certifications while working as a project coordinator. You do not even have to be a project manager to apply for the certification.


Apply for Project Management Jobs

It does not matter if you are a project coordinator in the same company or another. Prepare your resume and apply for your dream job when you feel you have the skills needed to be a project manager!


Frequently Asked Questions


Does a Project Coordinator Have a Higher Status Than a Manager?

In many companies and organizations, managers usually hold higher positions than coordinators, so a higher education or experience level may be required. Specific requirements can be industry-specific or more generalized, such as an MBA.


What is the Role of a Project Coordinator?

Keeping a project running smoothly requires the attention of a project coordinator. Scheduling meetings and appointments, managing deadlines, and ordering equipment and supplies are some examples of this.


What is the Next Level Up From a Project Manager?

The director of program management is often the highest-ranking employee in a company's project management department. The director of program management oversees all projects executed by the company.


Is it Stressful to Work as a Project Coordinator?

Managing projects can be incredibly stressful, as you might expect. Coordinators are responsible for delivering projects on time, on budget, and within scope. However, limited or inadequate resources, unrealistic client expectations, and a long to-do list are often hampered.


What are the Steps to Becoming a Project Manager as a Project Coordinator?

  • Improve your soft skills to become a project manager.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for more responsibilities.

  • Obtain project management certifications.

  • Find out what positions are available at your company for project managers. Job-hunt at other companies.


Summary


It should be clear by now what the differences are between the duties and skills of a project manager and a project coordinator. Ultimately, project coordinators perform most of the administrative tasks, while project managers ensure the success of the entire project and ensure that there are no obstacles and risks.


You should also sharpen your soft skills if you wish to advance from a project coordinator role to a project manager role. Do not be afraid to ask for more responsibilities from your boss, consider project management certifications, and prepare your resume for project manager job applications.


Both project management and business development are closely related. The two are vital to the success of any organization. Investing in your managerial future by committing to project management is wise. Learn how to take your project management to the next level with CEO-ME and explore our powerful management software.










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