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 various tasks and mean different things to different people. So what is the typical job description for a project manager? A project manager is responsible for overseeing a project from start to finish. The responsibilities of a project manager include: 

  • Planning the project
  • Creating a schedule and timeline
  • Executing each phase
  • Managing the budget
  • Serving as the liaison among all stakeholders
  • Troubleshooting and maintenance 

Project managers must be highly organized, detail-oriented, and possess excellent people skills — after all, they are 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 Institute describes the role of the project manager as that of a change agent. They’re someone who “makes project goals their own and uses their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team.” Project managers are leaders — they not only ensure projects are delivered on time and within 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 and finely-tuned communication skills (like a knack for customer service) to ensure everyone remains informed, motivated, and on board. It’s no wonder that project managers are considered 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:

  • Planning: A project manager is responsible for formulating a plan to meet the project’s objectives while adhering to an approved budget and timeline. This blueprint will guide the project from ideation to fruition. It will include the project’s scope, the resources necessary, the anticipated time and financial requirements, the communication strategy, a plan for execution and documentation, and a 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.
  • 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.
  • Execution: The project manager participates in and supervises the successful execution of each stage of the project. Again, this requires frequent, open communication with the project team members and stakeholders.
  • Time management: Staying on schedule is crucial to completing any project, and time management is one of the key responsibilities of a project manager. Project managers are responsible for resolving derailments 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 to continue moving forward even when roadblocks occur.
  • Budget: Project managers devise a budget for a project and stick to it as closely as possible. If certain parts of the project end up costing more (or, in a perfect world, less) than anticipated, project managers moderate the spend and re-allocate funds when necessary.
  • Documentation: A project manager must develop effective ways to measure and analyze the project’s progress. Common strategies for documenting a project include data collection and verbal and written status reports. It’s also a project manager’s job to ensure that all relevant actions are approved and that these documents are archived for future reference.
  • Maintenance: The work doesn’t end once a project has been completed. There needs to be a plan for ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting. The project manager devises methods for properly supporting the final deliverable going forward, even if they are not directly overseeing its day-to-day operations.

What does a project manager do?

You might wonder, “What does a project manager do on a day-to-day basis?” Each project is unique and, as a result, no two days are alike. A project manager’s job is to keep the project moving forward and clear a path for their team members to succeed. Daily, this will involve: 

  • Answering emails related to the execution or maintenance of a project
  • Meeting with team members for status reports and tackling any new issues 
  • Checking in with the client or other stakeholders to update them on the project’s progress
  • Reviewing the appropriate documentation to assess budget, schedule, and scope 
  • Dealing with project changes by re-allocating resources, including team members 
  • 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 or clients. Tying projects back to business goals is becoming increasingly necessary for project managers. It’s essential to communicate with stakeholders at the beginning to ensure the project is strategically impacting the business’s needs. 

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, critical thinking skills, excellent communication skills, a can-do attitude, and the ability to inspire and motivate. The Project Management Institute also suggests that openness to self-assessment and re-evaluation can make a project manager successful.

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