Who is a project manager?

There is much talk about the role of a project manager in every business process. There is no doubt that without his work no task would be finished successfully or, at least, no deadline would be met. This is a situation a respected company cannot accept.

There is much talk about the role of a project manager in every business process. There is no doubt that without his work no task would be finished successfully or, at least, no deadline would be met. This is a situation a respected company cannot accept. A competent and well-organized project manager is very precious to an enterprise. Let us now take a look at the roles he plays and at the tasks he performs in everyday business life. We will also focus on his personal qualities and skills.

The importance of project management

Large scale creations, bright ideas, budgets, timetables, and prestige relations usually occupy the central point of our interest during the process of realization of any business undertaking, however, in this enormous flow of data we must not forget about the most important element – skillful project management. This is the project manager’s task. It is his duty to make maximum use of the capabilities of his work team and his organization. His aim is to deliver goods or services to the client on time and for an exact price. His role is to make sure that everything goes according to a previously prepared plan – from the very beginning of the project till its finalization. In short, he guides the project from the starting point to the moment in which it is totally completed and, what is even more important, to the moment when it meets the investor’s demands. There is no doubt that every project manager should possess certain qualities in order to effectively fulfill his duties. What is interesting, all skills that help optimally realize a given project can be combined. In this way, we create a management system that possesses particular features. The establishment of a systematic way of project realization is crucial if we want to increase the effectiveness of this process in our business company.

To put it simply, every project manager should learn from his mistakes. He should make good use of the experience he gains at work. Thanks to this, he will be able to lead his team in such a way that it will complete every task successfully.

What is the work of a project manager?

His role is to manage projects, however, this is not his only professional duty. Most of all, he manages such things as time, quality, work teams, costs, communication, and risks. By combining all these difficult functions an intricate management system is created. This system decides if a project manager’s actions are flexible or not and if they result in a given investor’s satisfaction. While considering the effectiveness of a project manager, we have to determine the kind of human resources he needs and the kind of costs he generates during the realization of business undertakings on business grounds.

According to commonly accepted definitions, a project manager is a person specialized in a particular field that either works on a contract work or has a day job; a person who is responsible for governing specific projects at his company. Until recently, the role of a project manager was assigned to a completely different kind of person who used to work on a different post at an enterprise. A person was assigned the responsibility to manage projects, and after successful completion of an undertaking he was to return to his previous post and focus on his routine duties. So far, project managers do not have formal qualifications to do their job. They base their knowledge on what they have learned during the processes of project realization. The most important element is rich experience, however, a good project manager is also flexible, dynamic, and has a fresh view on the projects under his supervision – this last quality is especially difficult to find.

Understanding the system of project management

Every project manager has to work in a specific environment. He does not function under artificially generated conditions; he is a part of a large system. If he is to effectively govern his project, he has to understand the aforementioned system. Apart from being assigned some specific professional competences, he should also possess significant skills in interpersonal relations. If we understand our subordinates, coworkers, and superiors, we always increase the effectiveness of our projects with reference to our client’s expectations and schedules.

It is worth to mention that informal relations between members of a project team can either facilitate or inhibit the process of project creation. In consequence, one of the most highly valued skills of a person in charge of project management is the ability to make effective use of such tools as conflicts and disorder, or order and harmony in order to force the team to carry out action in an appropriate way. Under different circumstances, sometimes, employees would not carry out actions at all. Proper guidance of a team is crucial if we want our project to be realized properly and on time.

It can be stated that, colloquially speaking – dealing with matters of various kind – should be the primary task of every project manager.

A project manager may encounter many obstacles on the way to successful project completion. Some of them are as follows:

Client’s rules in the field of business and organization

The role of the client in the process of project realization

The macroeconomic environment of the organization, i.e., legal regulations, social norms, cultural differences, etc.

Wrong interpretation of roles and competences

Without the basic rules of cooperation between a project manager, his work team, and his client, it is hardly possible that the project will meet the necessary requirements and fulfill the client’s needs.

In contemporary times, many actions in companies are realized on the basis of projects. They are a means to achieve various operational and strategic goals. Enterprises pay more and more attention to the proper and systematic training of their employees in the field of project management.

The formal competences of a project manager

A project manager is chosen by the owner of a given enterprise from the employees of a specific department or a work team. Generally speaking, his task is to lead the work of employees of other departments. The style of management and the mode of project realization are hardly ever forced upon a project manager. His role is to simply complete the tasks assigned by the client with reference to specific instructions and schedules. How he achieves this is a totally different and separate matter.

In general, an employee who is assigned the role of a project manager is employed at one department, but manages a team of a different department because, in such a case, his competences are of medium level which is sufficient to exert influence upon the organization and its employees.

A project manager should be given decision making competences which might be valid exclusively for the time period needed for the realization of a specific project. It is important to allow him to freely make his own decisions on the way to finalizing a client’s assignment, and he has to take up the responsibility for these decisions. Usually, if we assign a wide range of formal competences to a project manager, we stimulate him to work even more effectively, and this is a situation every company should pursue. Effective exchange of information between a project manager, his superiors, and clients is also a very important element. There is often the need for quick decisions and for finding different solutions to new situations. The dynamics of changes in relation to projects can be significant, and a good project manager must have the ability to cope with such changes.

Innate qualities

Not everyone can become an efficient and valuable project manager for a company. One has to possess certain skills and talents because not everything can be learned. A good project manager has to be good at analytical thinking and planning; he has to know how to manage people by means of cooperation, and he has to be communicative and creative. Apart from all that, he should also be resistant to stress, willing to learn, ready to work flexible hours, and, most of all, he should be systematic and responsible.

How to organize the work of a project manager?

A project manager has many responsibilities in relation to his work which are quite uncommon and demand highly developed skills in the field of interpersonal relations and management as such. Therefore, he has to develop such a system of his personal work that will facilitate the process of project realization, make it as effective as possible, and that will support the work of the entire project team. The difficulty of coordination of all tasks related to a given project is proportional to the complexity and intricateness of the activities that are involved in the realization of a given undertaking. Therefore, a project manager should implement an electronic system of project management into his work. By doing this, he will be able to remain up-to-date with everything that happens in relation to his project. If access to such a system is given to everyone involved in a given undertaking – the team members, the supervisors of the project manager, and, sometimes, the clients – it is possible to effectively complete one task after another and to adjust the work to the changing conditions. Thanks to this, it is possible to avoid or, at least, reduce the negative effects of some unpredicted situations which could significantly disturb the schedule of our project. At the same time, we reduce the risk of not meeting the deadlines which we established at the beginning of our cooperation with our client. Thanks to such an application, a project manager can quickly implement changes to his strategy in relation to the project. He can make plans for every day of project work, with reference to the future. By ordering work in such a way, he increases its effectiveness, and, moreover, he makes project management much easier. A computer system allows him to monitor all processes and make necessary reports during project realization and after the work is finished. Such an application proves to be useful already while planning a schedule for a project.