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Apr 18, 2013 by Easy Projects Team in Project Management 101 & Tools

Guest Post: The Role of a Project Manager in a Nutshell

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Project Management in a nutshell

Businesses use project managers (PM) to drive projects from concept to reality. Project managers have a variety of skills that allow them to take the pieces of a project and connect them to create a successful result. This role is responsible for budget, people and schedules. There are few people on a project who have the same perspective as the project manager.

Like a conductor in an orchestra full of musicians playing different instruments, the project manager coordinates the efforts of every person on a project team. How successful a project will be depends on how well the team “plays together”.

The major areas in which a project manager participates include:

1. Analysis and Discovery

Some organizations get the project manager involved at this stage. This is where a “good idea” is analyzed to determine if it is feasible. The PM will collaborate with the appropriate people in the company to determine:

  • Is it in the best interest of the company to do the project?
  • Can the company afford this project financially?
  • What resources are available within the company to do the project?

During this time, the idea may be refined to better fit the goals and resources of the company.

2. Budgeting 

The project manager may be asked to create an initial budget. This exercise helps to validate assumptions made during Discovery. The role of the PM at this stage is to help determine if the company can financially support the project.

3. Planning and Scheduling

This is a key role for the project manager. They have the skills to look at all of the resources needed and all of the tasks that need to be done, and put the two together with a timeframe. The result is a project plan, which is the roadmap to how a project gets completed.

The PM constantly tracks and adjusts the project plan to reflect how the project is proceeding. This is the most important document used for reporting project status and includes:

  • Amount of time and funding used to date and remaining
  • Goals and milestones achieved
  • Current tasks being addressed
  • Upcoming tasks to be started
  • Any differences from the last approved project plan

4. Risk Analysis

The project manager must anticipate potential risks to the project and the impact should they actually happen. They must have the skills to mitigate any issues that arise to minimize the impact to the project. Risks can range from small (material won’t be available for another 24 hours) to large (a potential company acquisition).

5. Quality Control

The quality of the project is also the responsibility of the project manager. They must have the right people producing the right results throughout the project. Quality can be viewed in terms of:

  • material or product quality
  • process quality and efficiency
  • collaboration and integration

If the process is flawed and the work low quality, there is a high risk that everything won’t come together for a successful project.

6. Project Launch and Follow Up

The project manager has a final responsibility to deliver the end result of the project. Good projects can fail due to a poor roll out. Making sure that people are prepared to receive and use the end result is key. Resources ready to support the project result must be in place and ready to go.

Project Management is a Central Role

Successful project managers are skilled in many different areas. They must be in contact with nearly every piece of a project. Like the conductor in an orchestra, when they can get all of the musicians in key and playing the same song, the result will be pure harmony.

Sally writes for Milestone UK, the Primavera training course specialists. Based in the project management solutions sector, they serve a range of clients throughout Europe.

Image credit, Thebus48, Flickr

White Paper: Planning for Success

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Easy Projects Team

Easy Projects is a product developed by Logic Software Inc., a Toronto-based custom software development company.Back in 2003, when Logic Software Inc. needed a project management system for our own use, we were disappointed by the available options. With no suitable options, we decided to take the matter into our own hands. This marked the beginning of the our project management software, Easy Projects.Over the past few years, Easy Projects has built an impressive customer base and has received wide industry recognition. In 2008, Easy Projects was named a finalist in the Jolt Product Excellence Awards, the Oscars of the software industry.

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