CXO

What is a project manager responsible for? Here's everything you need to know

In the next few years, you may find yourself either working with a project manager, or taking on a role in this growing field. This quick guide will help you better understand a project manager's job.

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Image: iStock/NicoElNino

A recent report by the Project Management Institute confirms a strong business need for project management skills. According to the report, by 2020, 15.7 million new project management roles are anticipated to be created. This is because project management professionals play a vital role in helping organizations meet their strategic goals. If you have been assigned to a project, you will be working closely with a project manager. Understanding their role enables you to better understand what they will be working on throughout the project and also what they might expect from you. Here's everything you need to know about the role of project managers and what they do.

SEE: Job description: IT project manager (Tech Pro Research)

What is the primary role of a project manager?

Project managers play a key role in helping companies plan, execute, monitor and control, and close projects. They also help companies prepare for future projects by documenting and sharing lessons learned from past projects.

Key responsibilities of a project manager

As defined in the Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of Knowledge a project manager's role includes the following responsibilities within the five-phase project life cycle:

Initiation:

  1. Taking responsibility for all activities relating to the development of a project charter.
  2. Identifying and vetting all project stakeholders to ensure the project has all the necessary involvement at various levels of the business.

Planning:

  1. Developing a comprehensive project management plan that stakeholders, teams, and sponsors can follow throughout each phase of the project.
  2. Defining and managing the scope of a project, creating a work breakdown structure (WBS), and gathering project requirements.
  3. Developing project schedules, identifying activities, estimating required resources, as well as activity timelines.
  4. Estimating all-in project costs, and determining the necessary budgets to complete the project.
  5. Identifying the level of quality required to meet deliverables.
  6. Determining the human resources needed to execute a project successfully.
  7. Handling all aspects of communication with internal and external stakeholders, teams, and vendors.
  8. Identifying potential risks, performing risk analyses, and preparing and communicating risk mitigation strategies.
  9. Determining which procurements and vendors will sufficiently meet the intended goals.
  10. Ensuring all the stakeholder identified and agreed upon needs and expectations are met at all times.

Executing:

  1. Guiding and managing the project in every aspect, including the intersection of technology, processes, and change management.
  2. Effectively managing the level of quality in deliverables.
  3. Identifying, developing, and managing all team members.
  4. Developing and managing team and stakeholder communications.
  5. Identifying, securing, and effectively managing all necessary procurements.
  6. Carefully managing all stakeholder expectations to ensure there are no miscommunications or misunderstandings.

Monitoring and controlling:

  1. Monitoring and controlling the project work and managing any necessary changes by working closely with change management experts.
  2. Analyzing, validating, and controlling the scope of the project to ensure projects are not side-tracked or intended goals are not missed.
  3. Controlling project costs to avoid cost overruns.
  4. Controlling the quality of deliverables to avoid missed stakeholder expectations.
  5. Controlling all team and stakeholder communications.
  6. Controlling procurements.
  7. Controlling stakeholder engagement to keep everyone on the same page at all times.

Closing:

  1. Closing all phases of the project once objectives have been met and customers have signed off on a successful project.
  2. Closing all project procurements.

SEE: How to succeed as a new IT manager (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

In addition to these formalized project management responsibilities, project managers play a pivotal role in resolving stakeholder and team conflict, providing support and guidance to team members, updating sponsors on project progress, and ensuring project goals align with strategy.

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About Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is the author of "LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership" and Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications, and a contr...

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