Project Managers: Internal vs. External

Both have pros and cons, but which one is right for your project?

Efficiently and effectively implementing a software upgrade requires an efficient and effective project manager. But should that project manager be internal to your organization or external? It’s an important question, but many organizations don’t ask it. Instead, they choose an internal project manager by default.

An internal project manager could be the right choice for you … but make an informed decision. Here, we’ll outline the pros and cons of both internal and external project managers. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each type can help you choose a manager who gives your project the best chance for success.

Internal Project Manager


  • Understands your organization
  • Has established relationships with department heads
  • Knows how to navigate your organization to accomplish tasks
  • Understands your organization’s challenges, so may be able to develop solutions faster


  • Likely is managing other projects, so may have limited time to manage your project
  • May have a predetermined mindset of how the software implementation should go, based on past experiences with other implementations
  • May not be open to new ideas that may positively impact people, processes, and technologies

External Project Manager


  • Fully committed to your project—and only your project—to help quickly drive deliverables and meet your deadlines
  • No distractions from keeping your project on track
  • Brings a fresh perspective to your project, as they have no knowledge of past software implementations
  • Takes a strategic approach to risks and challenges
  • Has expertise in change management


  • Lacks knowledge of your organization’s specific processes (But this could be a pro, as they have an open mind and can help drive change)
  • Needs support in navigating your organization
  • Hasn’t yet built relationships and trust with team members
  • Longer learning curve to fully understand the project

Whether you decide on an internal or an external project manager, be sure the person you choose can commit enough time to every step of the project—and that they have full access to all your organization’s key team members. Doing so will help ensure the successful software implementation you need!

Yvonne Gilbert is the Vice President of Newbury Partners’ PMO.  Yvonne and her team work with clients to bring a holistic approach to project management and to create visibility for internal and external stakeholders to ensure collaboration and successful outcomes.

Email Yvonne ( to learn more about how her team can help your organization with overseeing your project management needs.

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