What does a project manager do?

What does a Project Manager do?


If you’re thinking about becoming a project manager or are informally managing projects, it’s very helpful to look at what a project manager does, both on a daily basis and throughout the life cycle of a project.

This short article looks at the key responsibilities of a project manager. We also focus on 12 essential skills needed by all successful project managers.

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What is a project manager?


A project manager is someone who takes responsibility for planning and guiding a project from idea to achievement.

Sometimes, they work actively on the project deliverables, but they are always involved in scoping out what needs to be done, and then tracking the progress of the project.

As you’ll see below, the role of a project manager encompasses many different responsibilities and requires a versatile set of skills.

What does a project manager do?

What does a project manager do?

A project manager may work on different facets within a project, depending on its scale and requirements. However, you'll find that no matter what else takes place during a project, the project manager will always cover the following 5 responsibilities.

  • Project Planning


    Once a project has been initiated, the project manager plans the project.

    They look at the goals or deliverables required and, using specific tools and techniques, plan out what is needed to get there.
  • Manages the Team


    In every project, you will have a project team, those who will create the project’s results. This can vary from a very small team, to a large, cross-functional team.

    The project manager will mentor the team, keeping them motivated and productive throughout the project’s life cycle. They help to eliminate roadblocks to productivity and troubleshoot any other issues that can pop up.
  • Engages with Stakeholders


    Effective stakeholder management is a crucial part of running any project.

    Stakeholders are anyone that has an interest in the progress and results of your project. This can include customers, leadership team, colleagues on other teams in your organisation, and the project team members themselves.

    The project manager will communicate regularly with all stakeholders to provide progress updates, manage expectations, and handle any changes to requirements.
  • Co-ordinates the Project


    There can be many moving parts in any project, even those which appear straightforward at the outset.

    Co-ordinating these elements successfully falls to the project manager. It is a key benefit of having a project manager on your team.

    The project manager keeps everything on track, preventing any task falling through the cracks.
  • Maintains Momentum


    Keeping the forward momentum moving on a project is very important. It’s very easy for enthusiasm to wane once a project nears the end of its lifecycle, or hits a speedbump.

    A good project manager will ensure that progress continues steadily throughout the project.
What makes a good project manager?

12 Essential Skills Every Project Manager Needs


1. Communication


We have listed this first, as it’s connected to almost every other skill required by a project manager.

Projects move quickly and the project manager must communicate clearly with all involved at each stage to avoid confusion and encourage productivity.
Communication

2. Collaboration


Great project managers remain open to the ideas and contributions of those within the project team.

This creates a clear path for creating the best solutions within a project.
Collaboration

3. People management


Managing the project team is a large part of the project manager role.

People management is an umbrella with many other skills beneath it such as motivation, conflict resolution, assertiveness and performance management.
People Management

4. Time management


With so many different elements on their schedule, a project manager must have the ability to manage their time wisely.

Efficient time management and delegation skills are part of any skilled project manager's repertoire.
Time Management

5. Problem solving


It’s almost unheard of for a project to run smoothly from start to finish. Obstacles appear and sometimes things just don’t work.

In these moments, a project manager steps in to solve the problem so that work can continue.
Problem Solving

6. Organisation


Right from the initial planning stage, project managers need to be organised.

There is so much happening with so many moving parts to a project. The project manager is depended upon to keep track of everything. Strong organisational skills are a must.
Organisation

7. Motivation


As a project manager, you need to keep your team motivated and productive throughout the project cycle.

This begins with you and your enthusiasm for the project.
Motivation

8. Stakeholder management


Informed stakeholders are, for the most part, happy stakeholders.

Learning how to engage positively with your project stakeholders to create strong, productive relationships is a key skill.
Stakeholder Management

9. Risk management


Being able to identify and plan contingencies for potential risks protects both your project, and the business as a whole.
Risk Management

10. Meetings


As project manager, you will need to know how to run efficient, successful meetings.

This skill links in with stakeholder management, organisation and time management.
Run Successful Meetings

11. Change Management


These days, project requirements are subject to change more than ever.

Responding to change and coaching the project team through change is becoming increasingly important for every project manager.
Change Management

12. Budget planning and management


Project managers include resource management as part of the planning stage.

You will need to understand how to set out a clear budget plan and manage it as the project progresses.
Budget Planning and Management
How Can You Become a Good Project Manager?

4 Strategies for Becoming a Good Project Manager

If you’re wondering how you can get these skills in order to be the best project manager you can be, we’ve got 4 solid strategies to put into action.

  • 1. Training for skills and confidence


    Build a strong foundation in project management skills by attending training. You can read more about choosing the right course for your career by reading our article: What is the Best Project Management Course?.
  • 2. Put it into practice


    Once you have gained knowledge and skill through training, the very best way to solidify and develop those skills is to actively apply them to live projects.

    Keep working on projects to really get into your stride!
  • 3. Self-evaluation, always


    At the end of a project (and during a project if you have time!) it’s hugely beneficial to look at what went right and what could be improved.

    Taking time to do this and bringing the learning into your next project will ensure that you grow your skills continuously.
  • 4. Never stop learning


    Continuing in this vein, it’s important to note that the very best project managers never, ever stop learning.

    Tap into online resources such as project management blogs and seminars. Schedule self-evaluation into your project timeline. Attend further training to progress your knowledge and expand your skill-set.
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Following through on these 4 steps and remaining interested and engaged in your work will firmly establish you as a project manager of the highest calibre.
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