EARMA Conference Oslo


Caddies of science: Project Managers

Having centrally employed project managers makes everyone's life better.


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Pecha Kucha

Topic: Project Management

Session: FOR3 - Post-Award, Policy & Strategy: 4 separate Pecha Kuchas

Thursday 5 May 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. (UTC)


Caddies of science: Project Managers
We all know a Principal Investigator (PI) who swore off being a coordinator because of the administrative load. They all complain about being inundated with the bureaucratic procedures , chasing partnes, keeping track of rules, deadlines etc., and not being able to do their science which is why they join the project in the first place. Just like a caddy carrying the burden of the golf clubs for the golfer and assisting with guidance on the way to success, a Project Manager (PM) working with the PI can take the administrative burden of being the coordinator of a collaborative project.
Many PIs, especially when they first try coordinatorship, try to do the project management themselves, later they push the mundane(!) tasks to a Postdoc or a PhD student. This of course decrease the time that Postdoc or PhD student can dedicate to their science and worse when they leave the knowledge/experience accrued during the project leaves the organisation with them. Employing a PM for the project duration is another option, which is of course a temporary arrangement and the PM in that position tends to start looking for their next assignment towards the end of the project losing focus or moves on at a crucial point of time. Some entities have a central project management office that take over the PM role but this of course incurs quite an economic load to the central funds.
At KTH we have our PMs employed centrally at Research Support Office and assigned to the projects according to their availability and fit, both in personality and skill. PMs keep records of their hours per project and then the projects are invoiced internally based on the timesheets. Every PM is only assigned to projects for parts of their time in order to have the possibility of supporting new proposals, develop guides and temples for the greater benefit of all our PIs such as risk management, change management, quality management, management structure, etc., which can all be customize by the PM to fit the project’s needs. We try to match our PMs with PIs at the proposal stage to coach the PI to increase the likelihood of approval as well as building personal relationships and trying out the personal chemistry before the projects are even approved. We are currently working on lessons to be included in our regular proposal workshop for PIs provided centrally and planning to create our own project management methodology for collaborative scientific projects, based on PM2, which will take KTH’s internal rules and regulations into account.
With this model of centrally employed, project funded PMs the university gets to keep the knowledge/experience accrued in house, the PM gets to have stability on both employment face and area they work on, namely EU-funded collaborative scientific projects, the EC gets to interact with PMs that are already experienced in EU projects and the PIs have their project run smoother and they and their teams can focus on their science.