In recent years, the global economy has become more project-oriented. The practice of employing project management services is expanding in industries where this was not the case before: in health care, publishing, and professional services.
Analysts predict that employers will need about 87.7 million project managers by 2027. In IT, over 10% of all the specialists are project managers, and the rate is higher only in the industrial sector. The role of such a coordinator is increasingly valuable in light of the doubling of the digital transformation scale and the exponential growth of the IT sector.
In this post, I will show you the six main responsibilities of a project manager (PM) that are required in any business. This will provide some insight to those who are considering becoming a project manager as an interesting career option, as well as those who are wondering whether they need this type of specialist on their project.
Project Managers: How Did It All Start?
Project management has its roots in the late 19th century, when large-scale government projects started—for example, the construction of a transcontinental railroad in the U.S. In its modern form, project management appeared several decades ago, when companies began to organize work around projects.
At that time, the need for a project administrator arose—someone who would coordinate the work of many employees, like marketing specialists, engineers, and business specialists. After all, people needed to interact effectively with each other to combine their efforts not only across several departments but also sometimes across entire industries.
Today, a project manager has overall responsibility for the successful initiation, planning, development, implementation, monitoring, control, and closure of a project. Scott Berkun, the author of the book Making Things Happen, compares the PM to a trauma team leader deciding what to do with a “patient,” which in this case is a software product.
Thanks to PMs, a customer can promptly receive the necessary information about the status of the project, its strengths and vulnerabilities, the impact on the team’s productivity, and the resources expended.
With these in mind, let’s take a closer look at the specific responsibilities a PM has.
The 6 Key Responsibilities
To assess a PM’s contribution to product development, let’s consider the six key responsibilities that they carry out on a project.
1. Planning Workflow and Resources
To release a product on time, you need to plan the work on it skillfully. To do that, the PM determines the scope of work and available personnel. Good specialists know how to adequately estimate a project and assess a team’s capabilities, respectively.
They create a clear plan for achieving the goal and monitor progress. If emergencies happen, the PM knows how to adjust the plan so that the project will make it to release without delays and losses.
To see the status of the project clearly, the PM uses dedicated software. Such a program allows them to track how the team is using their work time and allows them to shift resources from project to project when needed.
2. Organizing and Motivating the Project Team
A PM’s job is not about overloading others with work by imposing on them complex tables, long lists, and boards. On the contrary, they make sure that all employees reach their potential and are involved in the work. A good PM makes sure that team members are neither overburdened with tasks nor idle.
PMs communicate with the team regularly during daily checks or meetings to make clear plans. They ensure the efficient use of work resources on the project.
3. Estimating the Project Cost
Experienced PMs know how to keep a project within its budget. After all, even when the product meets the customer’s requirements and expectations, and is released on time, it will still fail if the actual costs exceed the planned limit. To avoid this, a PM estimates the project costs in advance.
On smaller projects, cost estimations can be performed weekly or monthly. On major projects with a great number of various expenses, the PM analyzes the budget on a daily basis, up to the approval of invoices from external suppliers.
4. Analyzing and Managing Project Risks
The more ambitious the project is, the more likely some kind of obstacles and traps will stand in its way, which goes against the original plan.
These may be issues with scope, budget, resource allocation, or something else. “Natural calamities” are inevitable, but here PMs come to the rescue again, with their ability to identify and assess possible risks long before the project starts. The PM finds a way to avoid problems or at least reduce their impact so as not to disrupt the course of the project.
5. Monitoring Progress
PMs control various aspects of project progress: the terms, the team, the pace of work, risks, and so on. They know how to manage all this to achieve the desired result. To do that, the PM monitors the progress carefully and, like the captain of a ship, changes course so that the team will “land” on time and in the right place.
An experienced PM manages employees in such a way that they are happy and productive. After all, a good mood and high morale, especially after difficult weeks or stages, are the engines of progress.
6. Managing Reports and Project Documentation
The PM is responsible for preparing final reports and other documentation that includes the project background, and the PM confirms that all the requirements have been met.
The documents show what was done, who was involved, and what processes can be improved. In addition, the PM must ensure that the documentation is agreed upon, signed, and retained in the archive for future use.
Project Managers Are Invaluable
Regardless of the size and complexity of a project, it needs a coordinator who will maintain its effectiveness and be responsible for the result. PMs put a lot of time and effort into making an idea a reality.
Without their professional knowledge, projects would develop spontaneously, with missed deadlines and high risks. That is why business owners need leaders who can meet challenges and ensure a successful and timely product release. If all this sounds intriguing, becoming a project manager could be an interesting career choice for you. The responsibility is high, but so is the reward.