A Project Manager is the person responsible for the overall success of the project.
What does a Project Manager do?
Having received the Project Mandate (detailing the reason for the project and the expected outcome) from Corporate/Programme Management, it is the Project Manager’s job to:
• Decide how the expected outcome can best be achieved
• Draw up a Business Case justifying the proposal
• Create a Project Plan, including expected budget, timescale and necessary resources
• Build a Project Team and ensure that each member of the team understands and can perform expected project tasks
• Monitor project progress, control deviation from Project Plan and provide the Project Board and Stakeholders with regular updates
• Anticipate risks and assess the impact of proposed changes
• Overcome day-to-day challenges
• Deliver the final product to the budget, timescale and quality agreed with the Customer at the beginning
What skills does a Project Manager require?
• Organisation: project managers are the people who make sure that everybody else is organised, so self-organisation is an essential skill.
If you are the kind of person who lists everything down to the number of potatoes you put on your shopping-list, then project management is definitely for you. If not, then you need to learn project management organisational skills – and fast.
• Communication: as the project manager, you will be responsible for ensuring that everybody knows what is going on and what they are supposed to do.
Are you a good communicator on every level? Can you explain the basics of the project need to the most junior team member, and the next moment chair a meeting with senior representatives from your customers and suppliers?
Learning to be a communicative Project Manager doesn’t mean that you have to be a natural talker or have the acting skills of Laurence Olivier – it is far more important that you are aware of your communication responsibilities (who needs to know what), that you have confidence in your project management decisions and that you explain these decisions and their implications clearly and concisely to all the relevant people.
• Leadership: not project management, but people management
It may seem contradictory, but the most important part of the Project Managers job is not managing the project, but managing people.
It is the Project Team who will get your project done. With a set of well-trained, motivated and carefully instructed individuals, you will be able to assume the role of conductor, rather than nanny.
An excellent Project Management leader is somebody who knows how to set objectives not tasks, how to inspire staff with vision not fear and how to deliver accurate and constructive feedback. A good leader shows interest in staff not only as project resources, but also as capable and important members of the project team.
About the Author
Simon Buehring is a project manager, consultant and trainer. He works for KnowledgeTrain which offers training in PRINCE2 project management and PRINCE2 trainingin the UK and overseas. Simon has extensive experience within the IT industry. Contact him via the KnowledgeTrain project management training UK website.