The Roles of the Project Manager

The role of project manager is to attain the project objectives. The project manager must be experienced, capable, and competent in getting the project work done on time, within budget and according to specification. The project manager must simultaneously see to the needs of the sponsor and other stakeholders, manage the project life cycle and the performance of the project team, including his or her performance. It is a role that involves a mix of abilities, combining management with leadership and political awareness. The project manager is responsible for coordinating and integrating activities across multiple, functional lines. The integration activities performed by the project manager include activities which are necessary to develop a project plan; execute a plan and to make changes to the plan. A project manager must be able to understand the project detail but manage from the overall perspective. As an architect of the project plan, the project manager must provide complete task definitions; resource requirement definitions; major time table milestones; definition of end item quality and reliability requirements and the basis for performance measurement.

The Roles of the Project Manager

Project managers influence people to take action. This requires an ability to communicate in a style appropriate for the individual concerned. If communication in the project is of low quality, the project will be more likely to fail. People working within a project always communicate but the quality of the communication must be high. The purpose and direction of the project lie on the ability of the project manager to communicate well with the partners within the project. One important role of the project leader is to create active communication among the project members by staying in touch with individuals and passing information between different members and between them and the funding organization. The project manager must be able to convert the inputs (i.e. resources such as capital, materials, equipment’s, facilities, information, personnel etc.) into output of products, services and ultimately profits. In order to do this, the project manager needs strong communicative and interpersonal skills, must become familiar with the operations of each line organization and must have knowledge of the technology used. Project leader should have high level of communication skills to be able to successfully manage with the project. The project manager’s role is like a spider weaving the web and should be the center of communication and events.

One of the major responsibilities of the project manager is planning. If project planning is performed correctly, then it is conceivable that the project manager will work himself out of the job because the project can run itself. The chief executive role of the project manager involves more than that of being accountable for the activities of the project. It implies that the manager is expected to make things happen by active involvement. The manager role as co-ordinator is vital in co-ordinating the efforts of the project team and the stakeholders. The project manager should define the ethics, norms and values of their project team, establishing the atmosphere of the organization and the way that the various project tasks are approached. The project manager’s role as a diplomat requires high level of sensitivity and good negotiating skills. He/she must be able to negotiate the relationship between the project and its environment and must be able to ensure the political support.

The project manager along with his/her team should brainstorm to decide who the various stakeholders in the project might be. The project manager should go out and talk to all of those stakeholders and develop the necessary interviewing and probing skills which enable him/her to draw out of them what their expectations are. Often, the stakeholders are uncertain about what they want. The project manager should engage in a dialogue with them to help them to think through their expectations. The project manager’s initial consideration of stakeholder expectations will help him/her to begin to understand the kinds of resources the project might require and will ensure positive outcome. Talking about resources does not mean only talking about tangible resources of money, time and materials, but also about those intangible resources of technical skills, non-technical managerial and communication skills, and the vital intangible of commitment and support from particular people within the project organization and outside it.

The project manager should need to map the risk that may occur in a project by going through a structured process. Such process might include: brainstorm possible risks; considering what was wrong in similar projects previously; clustering into related topics; weighting-seriousness and probability; focusing on the very serious and highly probable; defining the project type, and review typical risks; planning how to run the project with the risks in mind. Highlight where in the project the risks will be most crucial; deciding how to reduce the risks so that the chances and consequences of failure are minimized.

The project can be considered as temporary organization because it has limited time frame, limited budget, specific goals and activities. Some of such temporary organizations might be inter-organizational projects that involve many organizations having different specialties or expertise. In such projects, it is very important for the project manager to ensure the flow of information from the different organizations involved within the project. The flow of information is vital for the success of such project or organization. Since these innovation projects are of interdisciplinary and innovative, the share of experiences, knowledge, and the cooperation in different stages of the project development become absolute necessary for its success.

Managing international projects that are of multi organizational type is not an easy task, especially when these organizations are from different technical, cultural, political backgrounds and have different management style in their approach for handling a task. A careful and detailed preparation of projects, especially for inter organizational ones due to their complexity, in their planning phase is vital for their success. The manager should have high experience in planning such projects.

To summarize things up, the project manager should have the following attributes

  • Ability to select and develop an operational team.
  • Leadership skills and management ability.
  • Ability to anticipate problems, solve problems and make decision.
  • Ability to integrate the project stakeholders.
  • Operational flexibility.
  • Ability to plan, expedite and get things done.
  • Ability to negotiate, persuade and make deals.
  • Understand the environment within which the project is being managed.
  • Ability to review monitor and apply control.
  • Ability to keep the stakeholders and client happy.

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