Project manager or project coordinator: Understanding job roles and responsibilities

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General Electric CEO Jack Welch once said: “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” 

So, when it comes to project management, who’s responsible for this all-important mission? Today, there are two primary project management roles with the responsibility of overseeing projects and guiding project teams to the promised land: project managers and project coordinators. 

Many agency owners believe that the only difference between the two is semantics. However, the truth is that there are a lot of important distinctions between these project management professionals.

To help you understand the key differences between a project coordinator and a project manager, let’s take a deep dive into both of these positions and the roles they play.

Understanding the role of a project manager

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There are almost half a million project managers employed in the United States, so it goes without saying that there’s no one-size-fits-all definition of a project manager’s role. However, there are certain skill sets and responsibilities that tend to define the project manager position.

Project managers are fearless captains of the project ship, guiding their crew through the tumultuous waters of the project life cycle. They are responsible for both creating the project plan and, from a big-picture perspective, making sure that plan is executed correctly.

The project manager job involves a lot of communication, making great people skills a necessity for the position. Project managers are responsible for communicating with stakeholders, as well as project team members, to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Identifying and mitigating risks, monitoring the project budget, and resource allocation are just a few of the tasks that make up a project manager’s day-to-day job. To sum up, a project manager is responsible for managing the entire project from a bird’s-eye view, while also providing leadership and support to team members and stakeholders alike.

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Main responsibilities of a project manager

  • Project planning (defining the project goals, scope, deliverables, and timeline)

  • Allocating resources to meet project requirements

  • Risk management

  • Providing leadership and support to project team members

  • Communicating with stakeholders to provide updates and address concerns throughout the project life cycle

Skills and qualifications of a project manager

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Strong problem-solving skills

  • A project management certification

  • Effective time management 

  • Strong leadership skills

Understanding the role of a project coordinator

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Project coordinators are the unsung heroes of project management — wizards of organization and multitasking who act as the conductors of a project’s chaotic symphony.

These professionals act as the central hub that connects various project stakeholders, team members, and management. They play a key role in facilitating communication and collaboration between team members, keeping everyone informed and on the same page. They are also responsible for planning and scheduling tasks, tracking project progress, and ensuring that deadlines are met.

The project coordinator role is one that requires adept problem-solving skills, in addition to expert organization and time management. They are often asked to juggle a lot of different balls (and lots of times those balls are on fire, the stage is on fire, and everyone is running around screaming) to help keep projects on track.

Main responsibilities of a project coordinator

  • Coordinating tasks between team members to ensure they are completed on time

  • Administrative tasks, such as helping with project documentation, scheduling meetings, and managing project files

  • Facilitating communication between project stakeholders and team members

  • Monitoring project progress and updating project managers on task status

  • Preparing regular project progress reports and status updates for stakeholders

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Skills and qualifications of a project coordinator

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

  • Stellar organization and time management

  • The ability to adjust and adapt on the fly

  • A strong team player who can work collaboratively with cross-functional teams

  • Excellent attention to detail

Key differences between a project manager and project coordinator

Project managers and project coordinators have sort of a Batman-and-Robin relationship. The project manager is the fearless leader, guiding the project team to success and making informed decisions throughout the project life cycle. Project coordinators, on the other hand, are like their trusty sidekicks. They assist with all of the day-to-day responsibilities of project management, so that project managers are free to stay focused on the big picture.

Project managers and project coordinators work closely together through every phase of a project. However, the specific roles and responsibilities that they fill on a day-to-day basis are typically quite different. Project managers spearhead the project’s overall vision, while project coordinators provide the invaluable support that keeps the project’s gears turning.

Combined, these roles are incredibly complementary. Project managers and project coordinators work to keep projects on track and positioned for success in different yet equally important ways. Understanding the distinctions between these two roles and how they work together is key if you want to build the ultimate project management team

Deciding between a project manager and project coordinator: factors to consider

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Did you know that, on average, 11.4% of an organization’s investment in a project is wasted on poor project performance?

While there are a lot of different ingredients that go into making a specific project successful, ensuring you have the right leadership is an important place to start. So how do you decide whether hiring a project manager, hiring a project coordinator, or hiring both is the right choice for your agency? In a perfect world, the answer would always be both. Project managers and project coordinators play different yet complementary roles. So agencies will almost always benefit when they fill both of these positions with talented project management professionals. However, budgets aren’t bottomless wells, and you may be required to choose between hiring one of the two.

If you need a leader to guide your agency’s projects from the top level, hiring a project manager is going to be your best bet. On the other hand, if you are looking for someone to keep your project team organized and assist with administrative tasks, you might be better off hiring a project coordinator.

For smaller, less complex projects, a project manager is likely to be more beneficial than a project coordinator. In this case, a good project manager should be able to easily take on or delegate the responsibilities that a project coordinator would typically have. 

For larger teams and projects, however, having both a project manager and project coordinator to keep everything organized and on track will usually be the most effective solution.

Project management simplified with

Even if your agency’s project manager and project coordinator are both rockstars at their jobs, it is still essential to give them the right tools if you want to see great results. After all, a carpenter is only as good as their tools, and this is just as true for project management professionals.

At, we strive to simplify project management by providing agencies with an all-in-one project management platform that’s so user-friendly your grandmother could use it. streamlines communication between project team members, makes it easy to assign and track tasks, and provides the detailed reporting that project managers need to make data-driven decisions.

Don’t make your project manager and project coordinator suffer the hassle of using clunky, outdated platforms. Sign up for today for project management made simple.

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