On the surface, freelancing and project management are kind of polar opposites. On the one side, you have a lone wolf who operates as an independent consultant, and on the other you have a group of people who pool and coordinate their efforts.
But in reality, freelancing and project management can and frequently do mix. In fact, the relationship of between these two concepts can be very beneficial to both the freelancer and their client.
Ad Hoc Project Management
Whether its web development, events management, marketing, or anything else, freelancers will eventually need to work with other parties. While some clients do coordinate the freelancers efforts with that of their team, Ive met clients who prefer to have the freelancer manage everything on their behalfespecially if it involves something outside the clients area of expertise, like websites or IT equipment. The freelancer is now an ad hoc project manager.
The usual requirements still apply: as the project lead, the freelancer needs to be a good organizer and people manager. The latter is going to be especially challenging. Since freelancers exist outside the organization, they may have to manage contributors remotely, and their word may not carry the same weight as others on the clients team. But these challenges can be overcome if the freelancer has the clients full support and the freelancer excels at communicating. Automated tools can do a lot to simplify the process as well.
Another Level of Customer Service
If a freelancer can pull it off, doing project management is excellent customer service for a number of reasons (although Im not implying you do it for free).
By placing the project on your own shoulders, youre freeing up the clients time and reducing their stress level. Thats a major benefit, and the client is sure to appreciate that. If you do the job well, you may be able to increase your standing and visibility in their organization, which could improve your relationship with your client and maybe even get you referrals. Also, dealing with the project as a whole shows you how your own deliverables fit into the big picture.
As you can see, freelancers and their clients dont have to have huge budgets or large teams. As long as there is a need to communicate, organize, and coordinate, freelancers can benefit from project management principles and tools.
Image credit, Flickr, Kamaljith K V