The Role of the Project Manager

Role of the Project Manager | By Duncan Haughey | Read time minutes

A young man working on a laptop in a penthouse overlooking the city

A project manager is a person who has the overall responsibility for the successful initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of a project. Construction, petrochemical, architecture, information technology and many different industries that produce products and services use this job role.

Watch What Does a Project Manager Do?

A project manager must have a combination of skills, including asking penetrating questions, detecting unstated assumptions, resolving conflicts, and possessing good general management skills.

The critical areas controlled by a project manager are scope, schedule, resources, finance, quality and risks.

Key among a project manager's duties is recognising that risk directly impacts the likelihood of project success and that this risk must be formally and informally measured throughout the lifetime of a project.

Risks arise from uncertainty, and the successful project manager is the one who focuses on this as their primary concern—most of the issues that impact a project result in one way or another from risk.

A good project manager can lessen risk significantly, often by adhering to a policy of open communication, ensuring every significant participant has an opportunity to express opinions and concerns.

A project manager is a person who is responsible for making decisions, both large and small. The project manager should make sure they control risk and minimise uncertainty. Every decision the project manager makes must directly benefit their project.

A project manager may use project management software, such as Basecamp, Wrike and Asana (many other solutions are available) to organise their tasks and team. These software solutions allow project managers to orchestrate their work and produce reports and charts in a few minutes, compared with the several hours it can take to create them by hand using office software.

 Is Project Management a Good Career Choice?

Roles and Responsibilities

The role of the project manager encompasses many activities including:

  • Planning and Defining Scope
  • Activity Planning and Sequencing
  • Resource Planning
  • Developing Schedules
  • Time Estimating
  • Cost Estimating
  • Developing a Budget
  • Documentation
  • Creating Charts and Schedules
  • Risk Analysis
  • Managing Risks and Issues
  • Monitoring and Reporting Progress
  • Team Leadership
  • Strategic Influencing
  • Business Partnering
  • Working with Vendors
  • Scalability, Interoperability and Portability Analysis
  • Controlling Quality
  • Benefits Realisation

Some of the techniques a project manager will find helpful in their daily work are:

  • Earned Value Management
  • MoSCoW Method
  • Pareto Analysis
  • PEST Analysis
  • RACI Model
  • SWOT Analysis

Finally, senior management must provide support and authority for a project manager if they will be successful. Without this support, a project manager will likely struggle, and projects become delayed and, in the worst cases, fail.

Recommended read: What Makes a Successful Project Manager? by Ty Kiisel.


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