Whether a company is developing a mobile app, planning a conference, or constructing a new building, it needs somebody to coordinate everyone's efforts, to keep stakeholders updated about the project’s progress, and to lead the project to a successful completion. And this is where a project manager comes into play.
Today, we will discuss what role project managers play in businesses, what their day-to-day duties and main responsibilities are, and what makes a good project manager.
What Is The Role Of A Project Manager?
According to the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) by the Project Management Institute, the process of project management means ‘...the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements…’
Project managers are usually involved in the entire progress of a project. They work towards project goals and organize teams around the shared purpose. They are in charge of planning, managing resources, allocating tasks and ensuring that everything is done on time and within budget.
A project manager helps the company to maximize a team’s efficiency and to keep the project's costs as low as possible, while maintaining quality. Good project managers are highly organized, detail-oriented, able to work well under pressure and possess excellent people skills.
Let's take a closer look at what roles these professionals play in organizations.
Project Managers Are Unifiers
Project Managers oversee and coordinate dozens of things: tasks, resources, stakeholders, risks and quality control, for example. Their job is to keep track of everything, to tie all the available information together, and to ensure that everyone's activities, decisions made, and tools used align with the project goals. A project manager is a bridge between clients, executive managers, and team members.
Project Managers Are Problem Solvers
A project manager is the first person a member of a team or client will contact if something goes wrong. Whether it is an unforeseen delay, resource shortage, or unexpected changes in the requirements, this professional comes up with creative ways to fix the issue and ensures that the project is back on track.
Project Managers Are the First Point of Contact for Clients
A project can be considered successful if the final product meets its requirements and the client has had a positive experience working with the company. That is why it is essential that a project manager keeps clients happy and supports them throughout the project. From the very beginning, good project managers establish a clear line of communication, manage a client’s expectations, and keep them updated about the project’s progress.
Project Managers Are Motivators
Project managers create a working environment where team members feel comfortable to share their ideas and concerns regarding the project. They develop a clear and straightforward plan so everyone understands what to do, why it needs to be done, and when each task must be completed. Good project managers also know how to keep their team motivated and inspired.
So, what responsibilities does a project manager have? We will discuss them in the following section.
What Are The General Responsibilities Of A Project Manager?
The project life cycle consists of five phases: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing. Project managers are involved in each phase:
- Initiation: Together with other stakeholders, they identify a project’s goals, determine potential risks, and create a list of main deliverables.
- Planning: At this stage, project managers create a detailed project plan. They define tasks, milestones and resources, estimate costs, specify a budget, identify quality requirements and set up a communication plan.
- Execution: They manage all work on the project: assign tasks, organize workflows, address changes, conduct project status meetings, update stakeholders on project progress and maintain documentation.
- Monitoring: Project managers ensure that the project stays on schedule and within budget, that all requirements are met, and everyone's work aligns with the project’s objectives.
- Closing: Project managers release resources, evaluate team performance, analyze results, summarize key findings and finalize documentation.
The daily tasks of a project manager can vary depending on the industry, company, and nature of the project. Though, in general, they revolve around these areas:
- Planning: A project manager is responsible for defining project scope, analyzing the team's capabilities, developing a schedule, and creating a clear plan for executing and monitoring a project.
- Budgeting: A project manager needs to keep a project within budget. They review resource usage regularly and reallocate funds when necessary.
- Coordinating: Project managers assign tasks to different team members, monitor dependencies, oversee procurement processes, and ensure everyone's work aligns with the project’s objectives.
- Communication: Project managers communicate with stakeholders and make sure that everyone working on the project has all the necessary information they need to complete their tasks.
- Documentation: Project managers are in charge of documenting project progress. They collect necessary data, gather status reports, and archive all documents for future reference.
- Time management: A project manager must ensure that all tasks are completed on time and that a project stays on schedule.
- Change management: A project manager prepares plans for coping with changes in the project’s scope, client’s requirements and resource availability, for example.
- Risk management: Project managers identify, evaluate, and prevent or mitigate occurrences that could potentially lead to project failure.
- Team building: Project managers continuously implement team-building strategies and ensure that their teams stay productive and motivated.
Now that you have a general idea of a project manager’s responsibilities, let's discuss their main duties in more detail.
A Project Manager’s Key Responsibilities
There are a number of tasks a project manager is expected to perform daily:
Plan and Develop
Planning is an essential task that is performed by a project manager. They determine what needs to be done, who will do it, how long each task will take and how much it will cost. Based on this information, project managers develop a detailed project plan, schedule, and budget.
Create and Organize a Project’s Team
Project managers are also accountable for assembling a project’s team, identifying roles, and organizing team members' work. They assign tasks, monitor performance, provide guidance and encourage everyone to reach their full potential.
Monitor Project Progress
Monitoring the progress is another big part of a project manager's job. They keep track of all activities, control the quality of deliverables, and regularly update stakeholders on project status.
Project managers develop a detailed timeline of project completion. They set major milestones and deadlines, monitor that work is done on time, and they negotiate schedule changes with stakeholders, if necessary.
Organize Regular Meetings
Project managers also organize and lead regular meetings where team members can discuss how much work has been done, what tasks they have to focus on next, and how to improve their performance. Depending on the project management methodology used in a company, such meetings can be held daily, weekly, or monthly.
Manage The Money
Project managers keep track of resources, like the budget, to ensure that the project stays within the initial budget that was discussed at the beginning. They frequently review all costs, make necessary adjustments in the project plan to avoid budget overruns, and regularly report to upper management and clients.
Ensure Stakeholder Satisfaction
Project managers make sure that everyone involved in a project has all the necessary information. They explain a client’s requirements to team members, discuss with teams why some tasks are more important than others, report to managers about project progress and budget spending, and communicate with clients for updates and feedback. They are also constantly monitoring that all the clients’ requirements are taken into account.
Manage Reports and Necessary Documentation
And finally, a big part of a project manager's job is preparing reports and documentation. They maintain records of all tasks that have been done, who has worked on them, and what can be improved in the future. Project managers usually update their reports weekly and prepare any final documentation when the project is in its closing phase.
It seems like a lot of work, and it really is! Luckily, today there are a lot of project management tools that help project managers with many of these tasks. Tools like Trello, Asana, JIRA, Teamwork, Monday.com, and many others make planning, assigning tasks, setting deadlines, performance tracking, and reporting much easier, compared to if it was done manually.
Becoming a good project manager requires more than just choosing the right project management tool, though. It is necessary to work on certain soft skills and build particular habits. So, what skills do you need to help you succeed in this profession?
What Makes a Good Project Manager?
To build a successful career in project management, you need to focus not only on what you do, but also on how you do it. Here is a list of what good project managers do to increase a project’s success.
Successful Project Managers Are Great Communicators
Good project managers know that at the forefront of any successful project stands effective communication. They are outstanding active listeners, are not afraid to ask questions if needed, and they repeat information back to clients to ensure that everything is clear, so there is no room for ambiguity.
They know how to talk to different people, and can easily adjust their language depending on whether they are speaking to IT specialists, or to customers who have no in-depth technical knowledge.
Effective project managers also understand that in order for a project to run smoothly, it is crucial to create a working environment where all team members feel comfortable with sharing their ideas, asking for help, or voicing concerns.
They Know Their Team Members
Effective project managers know the strengths and weaknesses of each person in a project’s team. They understand that each team member may have a different work pace, prefer a different communication style, and be motivated by different things.
Knowing these things allows project managers to manage tasks more efficiently by assigning them to team members best suited for a particular job. It also helps in avoiding or managing conflicts in a team.
Good Project Managers Are Prepared For Change
Effective project managers accept the fact that changes can occur in any project. Clients might modify their requirements, a team member might leave the project in the middle or the market situation may prompt a change, for example.
Experienced professionals prepare change management plans in advance. And if any unforeseen events happens, they refer to these plans and deal with the changes in the most effective way possible.
They Leverage Data
Every day project managers must make dozens of decisions. And a project’s success often depends on whether these decisions are good enough. So, when allocating resources, planning budgets, scheduling work, and managing risk, experienced project managers rely on data from past and current projects to make the right choices.
Successful Project Managers Never Stop Learning
Good project managers know that no matter how many years of experience in project management they have, there is always room for improvement.
So, they always seek opportunities to learn. They take courses, attend conferences, read relevant books and blog articles, earn industry-recognized certificates, and network with other experts in the field.
As you can see a project manager's job is not easy and it can be stressful at times. These professionals are expected to handle many tasks and to perform many different roles in an organization.
But it is also a very rewarding role that pays well. It is an excellent career choice for those of you who like to organize and coordinate things, appreciate challenges and variety, are good at solving problems and like learning new information.