From coordinating group projects and presentations to ensuring your children to finish their homework, Project Management is everywhere. Whether your background is in information technology, marketing, or science, one thing you’ve done is a plan, execute, and deliver on a project. In thinking through timelines, managing expectations of others, and tracking progress, we’ve all acted as a project manager. In this article, let us focus on how to become an effective project manager and also understand the role of a project manager.
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Who is a Project Manager?
A project manager is an individual in charge of the planning and execution of a project. This individual is the team member who defines project goals, aligns internal and external teams, builds project timelines and dependencies, and tracks key performance indicators for effective project management. A few effective project management skills that a project manager may acquire include:
- Budget forecasting
- Budget management
- Business strategy development
- Defining the scope of work
- Document sharing
- Gantt chart and timeline development
- Progress measurement
- Progress reporting
- Quality control
- Strategic oversight
- Vendor management
Read more: Project Manager Salary Trends for 2022
The Role of Project Manager
According to a PWC report in the United States, 97% of organizations believe that the project manager role is critical to business performance and organizational success. Two-thirds of companies communicate with clients using project management tools. However, barely half (56%) of project managers are certified in their trade.
Read more: Program Manager vs. Project Manager
To help fill this gap, Simplilearn is an easy-to-use, online platform that seeks to enhance professional capabilities and accelerate career innovation. Specifically for project management professionals, we offer a PMP® Certification Training Course to enable learners to stay abreast of the changes in the industry, better understand new and emerging trends and gain business development and strategic acumen.
To succeed as a project manager, here are five roles and responsibilities to master to deliver high-level results:
Role 1: Team and Timeline Management
The role of a project manager is uniquely positioned with visibility into the multiple functions or task-forces of a team. For example, in launching a mobile application, the project manager may work with:
- Web developers
- Content developers
- Graphic designers
- Marketing teams
- Social media community managers
- And many others!
However, each of these functions may not speak to one another or have full line-of-sight into the project deliverable. As a project manager, it’s your role to manage relationships with each of these teams, report progress to the project owner, and share information across functions.
Often the dynamics of a project may create a level of uncertainty in approval processes or next steps. It’s during these times that the project manager may have to “manage up” to level-set expectations with a project owner or guide functional teams through deliverables to ensure timelines are met.
Role 2: Team Organization
An essential role of a project manager is to organize teams to deliver on an outcome. This means understanding the various team functions, structuring them in a way that’s efficient, and communicating program progress and expectations in a timely manner. None of this can be done without being organized.
Look around your personal area. Are there piles of paper or clutter on your desk or counters? Do you have a “to-do” list that seems only to get longer? These are signs of poor organization. And, if you can’t organize your own life, why would someone hire you to organize theirs? By getting organized personally, organizing teams in a project manager role will improve dramatically.
As a project manager, it’s your role to work seamlessly across teams to structure timelines, outline deliverables, and hold vendor or client teams accountable. New software helps make this easier, but it’s imperative that the project manager bring organization to a diverse group to streamline project activities.
Role 3: Technology Integration
In recent years, the project management industry has shifted dramatically, with more than two-thirds of organizations outsourcing project managers in the last year alone. More and more organizations are leaning on technology and artificial intelligence to streamline, structure, and track project-based outcomes. However, 73% of the U.S. workforce believes that technology can never replace the human mind.
In this digital age, it’s important as a project manager to leverage existing technology to enhance workstream transparency, share information, synthesize data, and alert internal and external stakeholders to programmatic updates. When it comes to technology, we know that file sharing, time tracking, email integration, and budget management are among the top most used and requested features in project management software. In the project manager role, you must understand these digital platforms, own management of these systems, and synthesize data inputs to make decisions for your team.
Role 4: Leadership
The role of a project manager also includes being a leader. This role is at the center of programmatic development, making leadership and relationship building skills a must to encourage team collaboration and trust to get a job done. According to a survey of organizational executives conducted by the Project Management Institute, the most important priorities for top-performing project managers are the development of technical skills (81%), leadership skills (79%), and strategic and business management (70%). However, PM solutions research reports more than half of the organizations don’t have project management training programs in place.
Teamwork, conflict resolution, and adaptability are often difficult to teach but are increasing in importance for project managers. Research from the Society for Human Resource Management found that employers care more about soft skills than they do technical abilities like reading comprehension and mathematics. Even more, in the Project Management Institute's 2018 survey, 51% of respondents said that soft skills are more important today than they were just five years ago.
Role 5: Performance Tracking and Measurement
No project is considered a success without the proper measurement tools to showcase strategic alignment and return on investment. Project managers are often the individuals working across teams to support the identification of key performance indicators and own the reports shared with business executives to justify program progress.
In the project manager role, it’s important to understand the value of click-through rates, conversion rates, open rates, shares and likes, and more. But as a project manager, you must take the data one step further, interpreting the numbers and reports to share what they may mean. For example, if last month your project’s email open rate was 10%, but two months ago it was only five percent, the report you share with executives should outline what caused the jump – was it new subject line testing? Was video content shared versus static text? These findings are what influence strategy as the project continues, in addition to providing a rationale for programmatic changes that may be needed.
The role of a project manager can take many forms. It’s up to you to decide what roles are best for you and where your skills can be used best. Simplilearn is excited to help you take your career to new heights with PMP® Certification Training Course!
PMP® and PMI® are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.