Posted on October 4, 2013 · Posted in Management, Project Management, Workflow

It’s no secret that project managers wear many hats. At times they need to coordinate and manage projects, recruit, train, calculate and maintain budgets, and even see project procurement through, in some cases. In fact, in relation to project procurement, project managers are often both the “buyer” and the “seller”. But what does this mean exactly in terms of project procurement?

Think of kids’ building blocks. Each block is a different color and pattern. Each project that comes through the pipeline is its own block. Each project is its own “block”; individual and unique in its own way from one to the next. As a result, each project manager needs to wear the different hats for each project. One project may require a project manager to be the “seller”, whereas another could require the same project manager to be the “buyer”, and in some cases he or she needs to be both at different points in the procurement lifecycle.

So what do we mean about a project manager being the “buyer” and the “seller” and what is the difference between the two?

The Seller. In these cases, the project manager often works like a consultant where he or she explains a particular project, the potential outcomes, and even makes suggestions along the way. Even though there really aren’t any direct “sales” involved here, talking and working with the customer on their project is where this role comes into play.

In addition, many project managers deal with account and contract management. This means the project manager may be required to acquire a legal contract, letter of intent, negotiation, or other type of project agreement before work can commence.

The Buyer. In the cases where a project managers acts as a “buyer” is for when projects are already under way. When a project manager assesses the project scope, he or she determines potential risk factors, identifies key customer requirements and specifications and takes note of them and where they need to be met, and even determines whether or not the organization has the time, capacity, resources, and capabilities to actually perform all areas of the work.

It is very common for project managers to outsource portions of projects to third parties such as independent contractors or vendors. When this decision is made, a project manager secures the work for the vendor or issues a contract or purchase order, which is basically an agreement that details a “promise to pay” to a vendor or contractor. Most project managers function in a “centralized” procurement environment, which allows project managers to issue this type of contract with a third party for work purposes.

All in all, project management is no easy role. Project managers often have to wear many hats and manage many responsibilities on a daily basis. No project or customer is the same and each project, scope, and work approach needs to be different and tailored specifically to that project or client. This often involves project managers to adjust their work styles accordingly or even instill a unique work break down structure in order to meet the needs of a particular client. In addition, project managers are often the “seller” and the “buyer”, and sometimes even both on a particular project.

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