Project Manager: What are the tasks, responsibilities, and requirements for one?

October 20th, 2016

Product Development // Grossum Possum

Quite often, striving to save some finances from the already shoe-string budgets, startups, and other small businesses decide against hiring a project manager, thinking that the company’s management is able to deal with the typical PM tasks. We’ll admit right away - sometimes it works out quite well (at least while the company is working on no more than 1-2 projects simultaneously.)

When the number of projects grows, the task of monitoring all of them gets complicated. So when / if this happens, the lack of dedicated project manager per each of the projects, who monitors the implementation and promptly addresses the issues that arise during the development, might end up being harmful to the company as a whole. In the worst case scenario, losses caused for the delayed product delivery to the customer, lower product quality, and going beyond the budget to fix the problems can exceed the cost of hiring a professional PM.

Still not sure whether you need a PM? Let’s try to figure out the tasks s/he does and whether your company is ready for a Project Manager vacancy.

To start, let’s define the tasks. PM is responsible for the proper planning, timely execution, and completion of the project. His global challenge in the company is to ensure the team works in such a way as to deliver the project in the contractual terms and according to all the requirements of the customer, of appropriate quality, and doesn’t exceed the budget allotted for the project.

If you think about it, Project manager is not only the leader of the project but also is the person responsible for everything that happens while the project is developing.

Like we have said, in small companies (with a limited number of projects), management can afford to devote their own time and resources to monitor the progress of the project and organize all the details. Nevertheless, it is the main interest of the company to successfully complete the project and meet its obligations.

When the task load increases and there’s less and less time to devote to the actual company’s issues besides the projects’, it becomes hard to be in two places at the same time. This is where you need other responsible employees to whom you can assign part of the management functions and provide an opportunity to solve problems on their own. These people are Project Managers.

Any project with a view to getting successfully launched should have an owner and just one. If the critical management roles are divided among several employees, unnecessary confusion might arise and it would be an obstacle to the development and implementation of the project.

Simply put, Project Manager is the one who directs and “spurs” each member of the team, making sure that all the tasks are carried out efficiently and on time. On the other hand, he is also the person with responsibility and able to make decisions necessary to solve the urgent needs of the team. If the team has a good idea, you would also need a person who would take upon himself the responsibility of managing its implementation, otherwise, it will not go beyond conversations in the smoking room.

It is believed that the Project Manager must be a highly qualified specialist and understand all the technical aspects of the project. This is not always the case because there are times when a lot of experience and specialized knowledge of the PM may actually be a hindrance. For example, such PM can slow the team down, if s/he only accepts her/his vision of the project as a right one.

PM cannot be just a “manager” - he must understand the technical basics in order to plan the project right from the start, distribute tasks intelligently, and accurately monitor its implementation.

A good project manager is often difficult to find and they are worth their weight in gold. But we’re going to share a few characteristics that must be present in a good PM, so you can use our post as a guide.

PM should listen attentively and actively

One of the most important project management skills is the ability to listen and ask about everything before sharing his / her own opinion. Having all the necessary information to respond to the proposal, make a decision, or solve an issue - this is the key to project’s success.

PM should be an example of organization

It is one thing to “get everything together” at the start of the project and quite another to be organized throughout the development until the completion. For project managers, it important to keep their stamina whatever the situation is, for example, under deadlines’ pressure or in an emergency situation. Discipline and confidence in one’s team reduce stress, allowing to remain motivated and focused on the ultimate goal as well as not forgetting important details of the project.

Since clear and harmonious teamwork, meeting the deadline, and achieving intermediate objectives depend on the project manager, s/he has to be the most organized and purposeful person.

PM should be able to establish realistic plans

Planning the work on the project from the start to finish is one of the main tasks of a project manager. For the project to be successful and less stressful, it is important that project manager is realistic in setting goals and deadlines, not only in terms of the teamwork, but also in terms of communication with clients, and interaction of all those who is involved in the project.

Understanding what needs to be done and when it should be done as well as the procedure (algorithm) of the project helps to create realistic plans and set achievable goals.

In addition, the clear and comprehensible plan gives everyone who works on the project an understanding of the goals, objectives, timing, and the scope of work, allowing them to allocate their time, for example when working on several projects.

PM should be able to communicate with clients effectively

In an effort to attract the client and get the project order, there is the temptation to promise “the universe.” However, competent PM can remain realistic and promise the customer exactly what his / her team can give him.

Consciously showing modesty, he can set realistic deadlines, focus on the project, and surprise the clients with the result better than expected.

We can agree that it is much better to have the project ready before the deadline than trying to keep coming up with excuses for rescheduling or looking for causes of failure.

PM should be able to define clear and measurable steps to success

A good plan also includes an outline of the steps that will lead to the project’s success and determines how to measure that success. For example, the metrics one can use is meeting the deadlines, meeting the budget, and meeting the quality (which you can base on the extent of client’s happiness after the briefing.)

When each team member involved in the project knows exactly what it means to be successful at any particular stage of the project, it allows to get everyone on the same page and focus on achieving these goals.

Therefore, the project manager is able to identify and set milestones and criteria and convey them to the rest of the team. It is likewise the project manager’s job to measure the success of each step.

PM should be able to find and eliminate risks

Any project is subject to risks. This can either be a risk to not have enough time to complete the project in time, to miss important details, or the situation could’ve changed during the project’s implementation. In any case, the project manager should consider all possible scenarios as well as risks associated with it. This would help in identifying the steps and resources to mitigate the consequences if these risks become reality.

In addition, the risks can change during the project’s development and it’s the responsibility of the PM to periodically analyze the possible emergence of new risks. This way, if plan A fails for some reason, you and your team would be ready for the plan B.

Let's develop a successful project together!

Author: Grossum Possum

Grossum Possum. He loves using Symfony2 for his projects and learning to implement Symfony3. He also likes developing web and mobile applications using other programming languages and frameworks, such as PHP and Java. In his free time, Grossum Possum likes to write about his experiences in the blog.

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