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 the 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 depend 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.
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 on 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 of 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 rollout. 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.