In this article, I will describe the job of a project manager. At first, I use a real world comparison to give you an idea of the role that they do. Then I cover the four main things that a project manager does when running a project. This very basic overview should give you a good understanding of what they do. If you would like to find out more or become one it is worth doing a basic project management course.
Have you ever wondered what a project manager actually does? Do you like the idea of becoming one? Chances are you are already a project manager only not called one. But what exactly does a project manager do?
Project Manager Captain of the Ship
A good way to understand project teams is to imagine a talented crew of sailors onboard a ship. Each sailor is a human resource. The skipper is the project manager. And the voyage itself represents the project.
On board a naval vessel, every senior salty sailor has a special job to do. One might have excellent eyesight– so they rise in the ranks to become the ship’s lookout. Another has a talent for understanding maps so gets promoted to navigator. This is the same for each member of the project team. Each project team member is a specialist as they have a special role to play on the project.
Unlike the other members of the team, the project manager is not a specialist. The project manager must wear many different hats and adapt to a variety of different roles. While the project manager will perform a variety of tasks there are four main things that they do.
The Four Main Things Project Managers Do
One of the key roles a project manager must do is plan. Planning is an essential part of a project. Planning is not only done at the start of a project but happens throughout the duration of a project. If a problem comes up that causes a delay then the project will need to be re-planned. Planning is all about having a list of required tasks along with who will do them, when and in what order. For example, if the project is to build a house foundation needs completing before the roof goes on! With a list of tasks in order of what needs doing first the next stage is to find people to do those tasks. It might be that projects share resources and are not full time on one project. It is critical that the project manager works with the team members and schedule the tasks with them. Talking to project team members and collaborating on a plan is critical if the aim is to have a credible plan.
The most important thing that a project manager does on their project is communicate. It is often stated that a project manager spends 95% of their time communicating. A project manager has to communicate to wide a variety of audiences. These people can be those working on the project as well as those affected by the completed project. Depending on the audience. A good project manager changes how often and the type of communication for each audience. They need to be careful as over communication can switch audiences off to the message. Likewise not communicating enough can lead to people making assumptions about the project.
No matter how good the planning is on the project it is evitable that something will go wrong. In the project management when something goes wrong it is an issue. The project manager has to get involved and manage the issue. The project manager will assign the issue to a resource the same as any other task. Issues often lead to a change of the project plan.
With issues often leading to changes in the project plan, it is a better to try and predict these issues. It is good to predict when they might occur and prevent them from happening. In project management, this prediction is the management of risk. Often by taking steps before an issue occurs can prevent it happening and lessen the impact on a project. A good way to predict risks to communicate with the project team. This is another reason why communication is so important.
This is the basic the four main things project managers do on a project which is all part of keeping a project on track. These four things help a project manager keep within the constraint triangle. The constraint triangle is time, cost and quality. There are many other things a project manager does as it it is a very varied role. If you would like to find out more or become one it is worth doing a basic project management course.
In summary, there are four things a project manager must do on their project. The project manager must project both at the start and during the project. Planning involves having a list of tasks, who will do them and in what order. The most important thing that a project manager does is communicate. It is often to a wide variety of audiences. The project manager also has to troubleshoot any issues. The fourth thing the project manager has to do is predict what might happen on their project.
The four things are:
This is the very basics of what a project manager does and I hope it has given you a brief understanding. If you would like to find out more or become one it is worth doing a basic project management course.
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