The Role of a Project Manager

You might already have a good idea about what a Project Manager does, but very often the Project Managers find themselves doing a lot of tasks as they try to keep the project on track. This might seem like a good idea at first, but they will end up not managing the project in the long run. 

Let us start at the very beginning. There is a project to do and, therefore, a Project Plan must be created. This is usually one of the first tasks for the Project Manager when the project starts up. They create the plan with help from specialists and it includes tasks such as leading a planning workshop, defining products, activities and dependencies, estimating resources required, scheduling these activities, and defining roles and responsibilities.

The main objective for the Project Manager is to see that the project goes according to the plan. They review the completed tasks, get signoffs, confirm that the following tasks can start, and so on. In other words, the Project Manager monitors how well the work is going according to the Project Plan. I will repeat this line in case you are in an Elevator someday and somebody asks what you do. You can say “I monitor how well the work is going according to the project plan.”

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1) Monitor the 6 variables / performance targets

The Project Manager will also constantly monitor the 6 variables we just discussed, and they are part of any project. These are Timescales, Costs, Quality, Scope, Benefits and Risk.

 

2) Dealing with Issues

The Project Manager also has to deal with issues as they arise. In the case of small issues, they might choose to handle these themselves (e.g., getting a supplier to work an extra day to solve the issue and get the project back on track). If an issue arises such that could force the stage to go beyond the set tolerances, the Project Manager can escalate it to the Project Board.

 

3) Speed up the project

Another task of the Project Manager that is sometimes forgotten is to look for opportunities to speed the project up and reduce the costs.

Lastly, I recommend that Project Managers spend the necessary amount of time defining and agreeing on Roles and Responsibilities at start of the project. Depending on your company, you might need good soft skills to do this. This will benefit the project and could also prevent some stakeholders from passing their work and responsibility back to the Project Manager.  

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