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I work in IT and I'm planning a large-scale migration project, which the end user is onboard with and is happy with the functionality etc. I've done a lot of the leg work, which involves different teams, negating the need for a PM. At a high level, it's an ambitious project but most of the work is all automated now via scripts so I'm not manually involved.

However, I need a light-touch PM but there is no resource for this. Is it wise starting this sort of project without a PM? The migration will take years to complete due to the scale.

Thanks!

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    if you say it doesn't need a pm than it doesn't the only question what will cost more the pm or the lack of this roll. – Asaf Nov 27 '16 at 19:04
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The role of PM is always there, whether you assign a person to the role and give them the title. The way you are describing the work you're doing, you are not negating the PM but instead are the PM. Congratulations!

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Summary

Your milage may vary. A project can succeed without a project manager, but running a project without controls is a business risk that must be accepted by the leadership team.

Analysis

A project doesn't need a project manager unless the project needs to be managed! However, every process needs a process owner. In a formal project, the process owner for a project is usually the project sponsor, although responsibility for managing the project is usually delegated to a project manager.

Whether or not your organization needs an actual project manager for this specific initiative is entirely up to your leadership team. Starting a project without a project manager or any formal project controls is simply a business risk; it's up to your company executives to measure that risk, and then determine if the level of risk is acceptable or not.

A better question is: What happens if you later determine that the project does need a project manager? If your leadership team is unlikely to give the project the necessary time to stop the line, inspect the process, and adapt it where needed in the event that the initial laissez faire approach doesn't work, then you're better of starting out with a more formal framework than trying to retrofit one later.

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You don't need a PM as such but you need someone to take the ownership of the project. This person is crucial at least to:

  1. Monitor the pace of the project
  2. Remove any impediment occurring
  3. Be the point of contact to anything related to the topic

And it seems that you are the man of the situation.

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You need some level of control, whether that is via a project manager or another resource. Given that you expect the migration to take years to complete, it would be important to be able to monitor and track progress.

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Based on your description, everything is automated so there would be no formal need for Project Manager. However, besides above mentioned topics, I would add following: since this is the project that will last couple of years, there should be a person who is responsible if a negative event occurs which will affect the project in a matter of time, money and quality. If that is you, than you are the Manager.

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As others have stated, you are the de facto PM. But in addition to worrying about who the PM is, you need to make sure that there is some kind of project charter in place. If this project is going to take years to complete, someone at some point will forget or challenge the reason the work is being done. There needs to be a written record of what is being done, why it is being done, who authorized it, who the high-level stakeholders are, and specific success criteria. If you don't have that, it will be easy to dismiss your efforts (however valuable) as a pet project that can be cancelled or postponed indefinitely while higher priorities are addressed.

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I agree to that statement. A PM is not really needed if everyone involved with the project contributes their knowledge and strengths.

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