Understanding The Role of The Project Manager

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The role of the Project Manager is one of the most crucial roles in any project.  You may ask, is it not well defined already? What is there to get right?  Well, it is well defined and well understood by most managers, but you’d be surprised at the number of projects and organisations that still fail as a result of bad project management and having a poor understanding of just what the Project Manager is being asked to do.  So what are they expected to take on?  Put simply: they take on complete responsibility for the delivery or execution of the project.

In short, it’s a multi-faceted role.  The Project Manager is the kingpin of the project team; a leader, a diplomat, a negotiator and a communicator, both financially astute and customer focused at all times.  The Project Manager must lead the team and be seen to be leading the team in practice, not just in title.  The Project Manager will guide their team and the organisation of the project but not necessarily all of the individual tasks.  The Project Manager must always retain responsibility for:

– schedule adherence
– cost control
– risk mitigation and management
– contract management
– customer liaison
– procurement
– resource availability and allocation.

Project management is a discipline.  It needs a structured approach and a balanced personality for the Project Manager to hold it together.  A great many managers have been labelled as Project Managers without fully appreciating the scale of the task ahead of them, learning with difficulty as they go along.

A successful Project Manager will provide clear direction and efficient tasking combined with appropriate delegation of responsibility into the team structure.  Being responsible for every aspect of the project delivery, the Project Manager will adapt their leadership and management style to suit the occasion.  Most organisations will want their Project Managers to create a professional, open environment for their teams to operate within, minimising personality problems, power struggles and resolving conflict, both interpersonal and task oriented.

Managing projects to schedule, budget and expected quality is no easy thing to achieve.  Most projects will be multi-layered and complex, making Project Management a turbulent occupation with regularly conflicting priorities.  Project Managers must know their own organisation and how to get the best from it.  A positive attitude is essential and must be combined with common sense, adaptability and open-mindedness.  These qualities combined with project management skills are not enough in this day and age, however.  The Project Manager also needs to be a prudent risk-taker and an innovator committed to the end objective of successful project delivery. Only by fully understanding the role and appreciating the expectations, can any Project Manager ever really be successful.

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