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Blog post 21 Feb 2022

What is a Project Manager and What is their Role?  

What is a Project Manager and What is their Role?  

People are interested in project management as a career option because it provides them with a variety of opportunities, control, and a sense of purpose. The Institute of Project Management's Certified Project Management Diploma course may be of interest to you if you wish to become a project manager or if you just wish to better your managerial skills. By attending this course, not only do you acquire necessary skills and behaviours to be a successful project manager but you will also become a worldwide certified IPMA Level D manager, upon completion of the course.

project manager roles and responsibilities

What is a Project Manager? 

Project managers are organised, passionate and goal-oriented people who have an uderstanding of what projects have in common and who have a strategic role in how organisations succeed, learn and change. A project manager works well under pressure and is comfortable with change and complexity in dynamic environments. For them, it's easy to switch back and forth between bigger picture of a project and smaller, important details of the project - knowing when to concentrate on each.

Project manager can be anyone in the company- employees, managers, contractors and independent consultants. They are found in every industry. With experience, a project manager may become program manager (responsible for multiple related projects) or portfolio manager (responsible for selection, prioritisation and alignment of projects and programs with the strategy of the company).

Project manager job title is in increasing demand worldwide, especially now with the quickened pace of economic and technological changes. Organisations started directing more attention towards projects rather than routine operations. Today, project management is recognised as a strategic competence that is required for business' success and project managers are considered organisation's most valuable resources.

What is the Role of Project Manager? 

The Project Management Institute (PMI) describes the role of the project manager as that of a change agent - they make project goals their own and use their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team.

Project manager's duties are controlling and managing project scope. A project manager not only ensures projects are delivered on time and within budget but they must also engage and encourage their teams and inspire their clients. The success of any project lies in project manager's ability to inspire their project team to collaborate. This means the need to assign resources such as talents, expertise, money and time to tasks in order to be able to accomplish a common goal. Cost savings, timely delivery, and quality are the most important deliverables in every project management activity. As a result, the role of a project manager entails combining available resources to achieve these deliverables on time, on budget, and with high quality. The responsibilities they have are tied to the project phases and the focus of their responsibilities differs in each one.

5 Key Responsibilities of a Project Manager

The critical areas controlled by a project manager are scope, schedule, resources, finance, quality and risks. All the processes a project manager has to manage are within those areas. Here are the five phases of the project and key roles and responsibilities project managers have in each one:

1. Initiation

Initiation is the first stage in any project management activity. The goal of this phase is to define the project. During it, everyone involved in the project, including all stakeholders, shareholders, employees, customers, government, and the community are employed to give their ideas and expectations. There is a discussion about critical project deliverables and critical questions get answered. But project manager's responsibilities go past just answering questions like what is being delivered, what is the criteria for success, and determining the details like deadline, budget, clients... - their role also includes having to visualise every step and how to achieve it.

2. Planning

Planning is a key step in every project process. The aim of this phase is to design a guideline to follow in achieving project deliverables. Goal setting is a critical component of project planning. The goals you set must be SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time-bound) and CLEAR.

Alongside goal setting, you must design a project plan which details everything about the project, including scope statement, work breakdown structure, Gaant chart, communication plan and risk management plan. These plan elements contain infromation that describes every part of the project. They are used to make sure everything is going in the right direction.

3. Execution

Execution is the foundation of every project. In this phase, the plan is translated into actual tasks that can be measured. The deliverables must be completed during this stage, all the while keeping to the project plan and staying within the scope. Project manager is responsible to assign duties to team members and keep monitoring and controlling their execution with various status meetings and reports.

The project execution stage is critical to the success of any project and for that teamwork, collaboration, and good communication are essential. This highlights the importance of roles and responsibilities of a project manager. They need to motivate, lead and support the team so the goal can be achieved.

4. Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluating the project is used to identify if any areas are not on schedule and what needs to be changed to meet the original objectives. For this, you must locate the key performance indicators (KPI) - some of which are budget, quality, objectives and time. Because managers need to be able to foresee things in advance, this phase is very useful for strengthening that ability and learning ways to improve for future projects.

5. Closure

This is the last phase and it marks the completion of a project. Other than delivering the completed project to the customers, in this phase project manager has a responsibility to communicate with the team members regarding the successes and failures during the project life. Among their responsibilities is also to communicate with stakeholders regarding incomplete tasks that require extra time and budget and start planning to work on them. As a manager, you should strive to deliver a quality project within the required time and budget. For that reason, efficiency is a critical skill in any project management.

What Makes a Good Project Manager? 

Being a project manager is a specific kind of leadership position, which requires certain character traits and qualities. A good project manager has a thorough understanding of project goals and strong commitment to the project. They are capable of understanding the staff needs, politically savvy and posses good negotiation skills. Managers have a good eye for details and they can cope with setbacks and disappointments. This leadership role requires you to be practical, result-oriented, cost-conscious and to possess basic business skills.

Most important things to continue successful progress in project management career is to be constantly developing and improving your project management skills and having a certificate that testifies them.

Project management skills 

Project manager need to have critical thinking capabilities to be able to solve problems as they arise. They can break down large, interrelated processes into more manageable ones. They document, monitor and control them and use that review to learn and to progress. Project managers tailor their approach to the context and restrictions of each project, understanding that there is no "one size fits all" solution.

Project managers also need to develop the people skills necessary to foster trust and communication among all of a project's stakeholders, including sponsors, those who will benefit from the project's outcomes, those in charge of the necessary resources, and project team members. That way they can ensure everyone, on the team and outside of it, is informed and motivated.

Project manager certifications 

In a world where the projects are increasingly getting recognition of their importance, having a professional certification is your proof of competence. It shows that you are ready to meet the demands of employers across the globe.  Becoming a certified project manager can open up many doors for career advancement. Not only is it more sought after by the potential employers, increasing your chance of getting a job; it also gives you better networking opportunities and chance to get a bigger salary - a PMI survey shows that PMP certified managers are paid 22% higher than non-PMP-certified project managers.

But other than providing you with leverages to advance your career in the business world, the most important certification outcomes are, however, related to the knowledge you gather from taking courses. Simply put - it improves the way you manage projects. By investing your time for acquiring a certification, it shows that they have put in effort and are committed to project management as a profession.