Why every freelancer should be a project manager

Yes, you heard that right – every freelancer should have project management skills. I am not suggesting every project manager should go freelance – although it’s worth considering due to the financial benefits! But freelancers should develop a project management mindset for every job or client. In reality, freelancers project manage subconsciously already; though a more intentional approach is beneficial for the following reasons:

1.Easier to calculate cost and risk up front. There are several financial risks and costs that could be incurred over the course of a project. To be prepared, it is important to anticipate everything associated with completing a job. For example, overheads can be easily forgotten and may cause complications if they aren’t initially accounted for.

2.Helps to identify a project’s milestones and timelines. Milestones and timelines are great goal posts, and act as motivators throughout a project. By breaking down a job into milestones, you can keep perspective and track progress in stages. This allows you to evaluate all the required steps to complete a job from start to finish. Milestones also help you quickly identify if you are falling behind and allow you to adjust and improve in order to stay on top of the project.

3.Helps to manage multiple projects and responsibilities simultaneously. Managing your time is essential, especially if you have more than one contract at the same time. Apart from that, you need to have this attitude towards your entire business as there are several aspects of it which require effective management. It is crucial to understand both the importance and consequences of every task or project, and prioritise your time appropriately to help you stay organised and work to a structure.

4.Ensures both you and the client have a clear definition of the end result. By defining and clearly communicating the scope of each job like a project, it helps manage both you and your client’s expectations. By agreeing and documenting in this manner, you have a reference point throughout the process which will protect you against any ‘freebies’ or extra requirements outside the original scope of work.  

There are several tools that can help you manage your projects effectively. The most common and simple is a Gantt chart – a type of bar graph that illustrates a project schedule. You can create a Gantt chart either manually on Excel or Microsoft Project – a piece of software designed specifically for project planning and management.

Media Training Ltd delivers a great course that provides a comprehensive introduction to the essential functions and features of Microsoft Project. The course is discounted for IPSE members; as are many others via IPSE Academy. These include professional project management courses like Prince2 and Scrum. Alternatively, download our new project planning template designed specifically for freelancers.

Meet the author

Olaitan Ajimobi

Education and Training Officer