Project management has got to be one of the hardest and most satisfying jobs in any industry, in my opinion. Project managers are often times seen as the projects leader and visionary. They are tasked with ensuring that a project idea becomes a reality. Project managers are the chameleons that are able to successfully adapt their management style and approach throughout the project to ensure the success of their team and the projects at hand. The most successful project managers know how to keep their cool under pressure and are great communicators. Improve your communication skills and unlock your career potential by enrolling in our Effective Communication: 7 Tools to Communicate Tactfully course today.
Project Managers can also lead a team efficiently, which is one of the many keys to a projects success. The particular duties that a project manager will have to undertake will undoubtedly vary from industry to industry making it difficult to formulate a template for success which project managers can use to guide them through the development or project life cycle. There are however, some key duties and responsibilities that if performed well will help a project manager and their team successfully complete their projects efficiently and effectively. Learn how to ensure team effectiveness and improve your team culture. Join others who are looking to advance their teams performance by enrolling in The Psychology of Team Development.
Familiarizing ourselves with the four functions of management, what they are, and how they work will help to give us a framework with which to work with when understanding a project manager’s roles and responsibilities. Our Project Management Professional course will teach you more about the project management framework and the project management process.
A plan is the concept on which the project will be based. Planning is an essential duty of project management. The better that a project manager can plan, the better the odds that controls are in place for every step of the project plan. Determining exactly what needs to be done, who is going to do it, and a timeline for each project phase are crucial to a projects success. Of course, issues are sure to arise throughout a project and being able to modify a plan without dooming a project are also critical pieces to success. In other words, project phases cannot be set in stone, they should be fluid in order to account for and adapt to changes that may occur along the way. Whether they be a change to the project timeline or the project budget they must be accommodated or they could pose a risk to the overall projects success. Some key duties that definitely should be planned include defining and clarifying the projects scope, development of the project plan, development of the project schedule, and putting a project plan in place that will ensure that all of the above project processes are completed in order to support the project and its objectives. Are you new to project planning? Our Microsoft Project 2010 course is a great hands-on tutorial that will help to teach you the necessities at your own pace.
Organizing seems like a pretty straightforward concept, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, when it comes to project planning, nothing is really straightforward. When it comes down to organizing a project, you need to first consider the company structure. Companies are usually structured in one of the following ways; functional, matrix, or projectized. When beginning to organize your project, you have to identify the company structure and base your projects organization around it. Some of the key things that need to be completed in order to begin to organize your project are:
- Determining the organizational structure
- Identifying roles and positions that will be needed to successfully complete the project.
- Identify any services that may need to be provided by 3rd party vendors, establish contact names and numbers for 3rd party vendors, and identify how their product will fit into, or potentially cause issues with your project plan.
- Identify which team members will fill which project roles.
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All teams need a leader, someone that they know that they can rely on and turn to for advice. A project manager should be seen as their team’s leader. I believe that a common misconception regarding the project management role is that they know all that there is to know about everything and anything that may be a part of a project. When, in reality, this is simply not the case. For example, feeling the need to hire a project manager that is strictly technical in order to implement a technical project may not be the best approach. Instead, it may be a better approach to look for and hire a project manager that has great communication skills. You see, communication is a skill that is developed and perfected over time. It’s not necessarily something that can be learned and applied overnight. Whereas, a knowledge of technology, its processes and procedures can be learned over time. A good project manager will be knowledgeable in the areas that they need to be, but, more importantly they will be effective communicators, have a great reputation with their team, and be someone that can put themselves aside and applaud and recognize the achievements of their team when the project outcome is positive. Leaders can also learn from their mistakes, and are always looking for ways to improve upon an outcome, making it more efficient, productive, and profitable. Some of the key responsibilities that a project leader must have in order to positively influence their team include the following:
- Define the team direction. Project managers should know what their team is working on at all times. They should be mindful to not micro-manage their team members but have an open line of communication with them. Weekly team meetings can be scheduled in order to keep track of team members progress on tasks and also to ensure that any questions that team members may have are being answered in a quick and efficient manner.
- Successful coordination of activities across different organizational platforms.
- Successfully leading and motivating team members.
- Being able to assign work and follow up with team members to ensure that work is being completed on time and to a level that is consistent with successful project completion.
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Being able to control the project, means being able to control your project time line. Project control can be broken down into three simple steps:
- Measuring: Being able to measure project progress and verifying that you are on pace to meet your project timeline.
- Evaluating: Successfully identifying any areas of the project that may cause a deviation to the original project plan. Determine the causes of deviations and evaluate how they can be corrected.
- Correcting: Once all problem areas and project deviations have been identified a plan must be put into place to correct the issues and the project plan must be adjusted to accommodate the corrections. Project controls can help to identify and correct such issues from occurring again.
Defining project baselines, tracking project progress, project status reporting, and determining which corrective actions should be taken at which steps are all examples of controls that can be put into place to help guarantee project success.
The project managers key responsibility however has to be to successfully deliver the objectives that the project sponsor is expecting from the project. The project manager and their team are ultimately responsible for ensuring that project timeline, requirements, and budget are met. All of the items that we have laid out and discussed above all feed into and support the key objective, which is to successfully deliverable the project. Of course, project management can’t be broken down into only four steps. There are several other responsibilities and duties that successful project managers complete in order to guarantee overall project success.
- Project Progress: Project deliverables should be completed according to the timeline which has been set.
- Cost: Project deliverables are being completed according to budget. If deliverables do not meet the timeline which has been set, the project cost could increase.
- Quality: Deliverables are completed according to expectations the first time. Multiple instances may increase the project timeline as well as cost. Are you beginning to see the ripple effect that each item has on another within a project.
- Performance: Project managers are responsible for their teams performance and ensuring that their team members are meeting their goals and project deadlines.
As much work as it seems that project managers have to do, being able to visualize a projects end result and seeing it through to fruition can be an extremely satisfying job. The most versatile and successful managers are those that can adapt their management styles to fit their teams needs and complete their projects on time, within budget and without missing a step throughout the process.