While the title project manager may carry many different meanings and responsibilities, the truth is a project manager occupies an unenviable and often demanding position that involves supervising diverse personnel categories, teams and facilitators tasked with successfully completing a project within a specified period. As such, a good project manager must be a competent planner, communicator, motivator, and negotiator to succeed in that position. To learn more, checkout this infographic created by Brandeis University’s Online Master of Science in Project and Program Management program.
Definition of a Project
To understand the role of a project manager, it is important to define the term “project.” Broadly speaking, a project is any undertaking deliberately instituted to create a new product or service. Therefore, every project has two distinct properties: uniqueness and temporariness. Uniqueness means a project must have a clear and singular goal from the onset. On the other hand, temporariness refers to a well-defined timeline and scope.
Given the definition above, project management is the act of applying industry-specific knowledge, tools, as well as skills and talent to oversee a project and realize its goals while utilizing available resources conservatively.
Project Management Processes
Although project management processes can vary depending on nature of task under consideration, they more or less follow the following outline:
A project usually starts with a core team of decision makers meeting to identify and review the viability of pursuing a specific idea.
Though still at an early stage, a project manager supervises the laying of a project foundation. This may include drawing up the project budget, setting the project timelines and allocating human capital as well as other relevant resources.
At this stage, the project manager gives the project team instructions detailing everyone’s specific duties, targets, boundaries, communication channels and responsibilities.
4. Monitoring and control
At this stage, the project manager has to perform a fine balancing act of keeping abreast of the project developments, monitoring progress or lack thereof, reviewing project status and making changes where necessary.
After successful completion of project, project manager evaluates product/service to determine its standing relative to original goal. This is in addition to pinpointing successes and failures if any as well as lessons learned.
Successful project metrics
The success of a project hinges on three key post-execution metrics: timely delivery, staying within budgetary allocation, and stakeholder satisfaction.
Unsuccessful project metrics
In the same vein, an unsuccessful project will revolve around three main metrics: strategy changes along the way, lack of resources and missed deadlines.
Major Project Drawbacks
In most cases, the main project drawbacks include cost, resource dearth and timeline constraints. On the cost front, project manager may lack financial depth to hire skilled personnel or purchase key hardware/software tools. Resource dearth more or less follows the same trail.
Key Traits of Successful Project Managers
Researchers at Brandeis University have been able to pinpoint the traits that differentiate performers from underperformers in project management. These traits include authority delegation, mobilization, enthusiasm and high self-esteem, great communication skills, workplace political sensitivity, and ability to cope with fluid and fast-moving situations.
Categories of Project Managers
Explorers tend to be imaginative, courageous and bold. Due to these qualities, they excel at networking and pitching company products/services to potential clientele when the opportunity arises, thanks to unbridled their confidence and charisma.
Project managers who fall under this category channel their energies to fulfilling project goals to the letter. In addition, they subscribe to the hardworking and action-oriented school of thought.
Unlike their peers, coordinators typically exude a laid-back aura, humility, sensitivity to the plight of others and are generally willing to compromise. Moreover, their leadership style is attuned to reaching an agreeable compromise.
Administrators focus on instilling a sense of stability into their teams. To thrive, they draw authority from organizational achievements and intellectually driven logic.
For aspiring project managers, the future is bright, thanks to 15.7 million job openings that will materialize through 2020. Out of these, the healthcare industry is expected to account for 30% of all future employment opportunities. In total, revenues in the global project management industry will grow to $6.61 trillion by 2020. In the US alone, demand for project managers is growing by 12%, which will translate to 6.2 million jobs by 2020. In terms of median annual salary, project managers in the US rank third globally behind Australia and Switzerland. This means American employers offer pay packages that rank in the top 90th percentile worldwide.