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When to Hire a Project Manager (If You’re Drowning, it’s Already too Late)

When is the best time for a company to hire a project manager? If your company is already suffering, it’s probably long overdue. Chances are, you weren’t even thinking of a project manager when you first started your company.

When you first establish a business, it's just you, maybe another founder, and a few close associates. You do all the work because the projects aren't yet complicated enough to need a project manager.

But it won't be long before you'll have bigger projects and more people to hire. So, at what point do you need a project manager?

Companies begin looking for project managers when they are in desperate need of one, or when they begin to secure recurring clients or land larger clients. Unfortunately, by this time, many businesses are already late for the party. They are burdened by inefficiency and overwork for far longer than they should have been.

Hiring a project manager before you think you need one may seem costly, but in reality, it will help you save money in the long run and allows you to begin integrating a project manager early enough that everyone is ready for the next step when it arrives. Read on to determine which stage your company is in, and when it’s time to hire a project manager.

What Phase is your Company in?

Consider the stage you're in to see if your business is ready for a project manager. When your business starts to grow, the processes and the way you run it change dramatically. Before you can progress, you must first plan and predict what will happen next, as well as the challenges or glitches each new stage will present.

If you have a project manager on board before things get too crazy, you'll know how to scale your business, what new employment roles to open, what new types of clients to pitch, and how to manage resources. Here's a summary of each business phase to help you figure out where your company is now, and when you should start looking for a project manager.

Phase One

This is when a business is just getting started. A business is often set up as a single proprietorship or a partnership with one other person, and sometimes a small handful of employees. Hiring a project manager this early in the process is unusual and seen as “unprofitable”, given that a project manager will cost anywhere from $50-$150 per hour. At this phase, he or she does not create profit and there aren't that many customers or clients to handle (yet).

Phase Two

The second phase is when things really start to pick up. Your company may find itself with more work than it can handle, prompting you to hire additional employees to assist with the workload. Your workforce has now grown to between 5 and 10 people. Now is the time to start looking for a project manager so that you can go on to the next step. This is also an opportunity for you to learn how to collaborate with a project manager rather than doing everything yourself.

Phase Three

Your business is expanding even further! You have repeat clients, but you must expand your services and begin offering other products or services to secure larger projects. Perhaps you've grown into a full-service agency, opened a shop, or expanded your product line to a global market.

Growth necessitates more employees, a new layer of middle management, and a more robust or streamlined process. The number of employees in your company now ranges from 10 to 20. You're most likely wearing thin or suffering more than you should if you don't have a project manager by this time.

Phase Four

You probably have 20-50 employees, two project managers, an HR manager, and possibly a few more managers by now. You have more hierarchical layers, more products or services, and many repeat customers. If your company is an agency or consultancy, you probably have regular clients who keep you on a retainer. At this time, you're delegating tasks and handling more higher-level management responsibilities, pitching, working on partnerships, finances, and brand management.

Phase Five

Your company now has more than 50 employees. You have multiple offices and offer a wide range of products or services. Your company's priority at this point should be hiring and retaining employees. You are no longer dealing with the staff at this point; instead, you're focusing on your company's culture, strategy, market positioning, and fostering connections with your most important clients.

When is it Time to Hire a Project Manager?

The most ideal time to hire a project manager is in Phase 2 and/or when you have 5 employees. Depending on your business model, the market, or even your product offering, could determine when you may need a project manager. Sometimes, a company launches a magic bullet and literally blows up overnight. Having a project manager in the early stage of your company will ensure you are ready if your product or service takes off faster than you expected.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Project Manager?

  • You'll accomplish projects on time and on budget

  • Clients will have more faith in you

  • You'll be able to give more accurate estimations

  • You'll be more productive, organized, and focused

  • No politics to deal with! The project manager's role is to act as a buffer between the team and the clients. A PM will take care of the politics, so you don't have to.

  • A project manager works to keep your clients happy, which results in more projects


At Our Project Experience, we have a dedicated team to help get your project off the ground to reach your goals. Each client is paired with the perfect project manager, based on project requirements and how well we think you’ll work together. We’ll make sure your experience is a smooth and happy one, and you’ll have our full team at your fingertips. Learn more here.

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