Project Management guide
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What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Project Manager?

The term “project manager” is so broad that it can encompass a variety of different tasks—and mean different things to different people. So what is the typical job description for a project manager?A project manager is the person responsible for successfully overseeing a project from start to finish. The job responsibilities of a project manager can range from planning the project, to creating a schedule and timeline, to executing each phase, to managing the budget, to serving as the liaison among all stakeholders, to troubleshooting and maintenance.As such, a project manager must be highly organized and detail-oriented, as well as possess excellent people skills—after all, he or she is responsible for leading the team and communicating clearly and regularly with all relevant parties.

What is the role of a project manager?

The Project Management Institutedescribes the role of project manager as that of a change agent: someone who “makes project goals their own and uses their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team.”In other words, project managers are leaders—they not only ensure projects are delivered on time and on budget, but must also engage and encourage their teams and inspire their clients. They need strong critical-thinking capabilities to solve problems as they arise while also possessing finely tuned communication skills (think: a knack for customer service) to ensure everyone remains informed, motivated and on board.It’s no wonder that the Houston Chronicle argued that project managersare critical to the success of any venture.

What are the responsibilities of a project manager?

The tasks that a project manager is responsible for typically include:

  1. Planning: First and foremost, a project manager is responsible for formulating a plan to meet the objectives of the project while adhering to an approved budget and timeline. This blueprint will guide the entire project from ideation to fruition and will include the scope of the project, resources necessary to complete it, anticipated time and financial requirements, strategy for communication among relevant stakeholders, plan for execution and documentation, and proposal for follow-up and maintenance. If the project has not yet gained approval, this plan will serve as a critical part of the pitch to key decision makers.
  2. Leading: An essential part of any project manager’s role is to assemble and lead the project team. This requires excellent communication, people, and leadership skills, as well as a keen eye for others’ strengths and weaknesses. Once the team has been created, the project manager assigns tasks, sets deadlines, provides necessary resources, and meets regularly with the members. An ability to speak openly and frequently with all stakeholders is critical.
  3. Execution: The project manager will participate in and supervise the successful execution of each stage of the project. Again, this requires frequent, open communication with the project team members and stakeholders.
  4. Time management: Staying on schedule is crucial to the successful completion of any project. Time management is therefore one of the key responsibilities of a project manager. When derailments arise, project managers are responsible for resolving them and communicating effectively with team members and other stakeholders to ensure the project gets back on track. Project managers should be experts at risk management and contingency planning so they can continue moving forward even when roadblocks occur.
  5. Budget: Project managers are tasked with devising a budget for a project, and then sticking to it as closely as possible. If certain pieces of the project end up costing more (or, in a perfect world, less) than anticipated, project managers will be responsible for moderating the spend and re-allocating funds when necessary.
  6. Documentation: A project manager must come up with effective ways to measure and analyze the progress of the project to ensure it is developing as planned. A couple common strategies for documenting a project include data collection and verbal and written status reports. Further, it is a project manager’s job to make sure that all relevant actions are approved and signed off on, and that these documents are archived for future reference.
  7. Maintenance: Just because a project has been completed doesn’t mean the work ends. There needs to be a plan for ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting. That’s where a project manager comes in: He or she will devise methods for properly supporting the final deliverable going forward, even if he or she is not directly overseeing the day-to-day operations of the initiative.

What does a project manager do?

You might wonder, “What does a project manager do on a day-to-day basis?”The short answer is that each project is unique and, as a result, no two days are alike. From a 3,000-foot level, their job is to keep the project moving forward and clear a path for their team members to succeed. The long answer is that a project manager will likely find himself answering emails related to the execution or maintenance of a project; meeting briefly with team members for a status report and to tackle any new issues; checking in with the client or other stakeholders to discuss the progress of the project and go over any updates; reviewing the appropriate documentation to assess budget, schedule, and scope; possibly re-allocating resources, including team members, to different areas to accommodate changes; and maybe—just maybe—drinking a cup of coffee or two!

What makes a good project manager?

A good project manager delivers a final product that is on time, on budget, and meets or exceeds the expectations of the stakeholders and/or clients (internal or external). Tying projects back to business goals is becoming increasingly necessary for project managers. Communicating with stakeholders at the beginning of the project to ensure the project is strategically impacting the needs of the business is a must.Just a few of the qualities that make a successful project manager are organizational prowess, acute attention to detail coupled with the ability to see the big picture, resourcefulness, risk-management capabilities, the ability to think critically (and, oftentimes, on one’s feet), excellent communication skills, a can-do attitude, and the ability to inspire and motivate.The Project Management Institute also suggests that an openness to self assessment and re-evaluation can make a project manager successful, as well.

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