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Who Are Project Managers?

The role of the project manager is to achieve project objectives within the targets set for time, cost, quality, scope, benefits, and risk.

According to the PRINCE2 approach, the project manager is the person in charge of organizing and controlling a project. He selects people to do the work on the project and is responsible for making sure the work is done properly and on time. He draws up the project plans that describe what the project team will actually be doing and when they expect to finish.

Projects managers have to be well organized, passionate, and goal-oriented. They should be able to understand what projects have in common and be aware of their strategic role in how organizations succeed, learn, and change.

Project managers are change agents according to the PMI. They make project goals their own and use their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team.

They enjoy the organized adrenaline of new challenges and the responsibility of driving business results.

According to the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, in addition to any area-specific skills and general management proficiencies required for the project, effective project management requires that the project manager possess the following competencies:

  • Knowledge—Alludes to what the project manager knows concerning project management
  • Performance—Alludes to what the project manager is capable of accomplishing while applying his project management knowledge
  • Personal—Alludes to how the project manager behaves when implementing the project or related activity

Individual effectiveness includes attitudes, core personality characteristics, and leadership, which provides the aptitude to guide the project team while accomplishing project objectives and balancing the project constraints. Project managers should have interpersonal skills including leadership, team building, communication, ability to influence and motivate, decision making, political and cultural awareness, negotiation, trust building, conflict management, and coaching. Effective project managers require a balance of ethical, interpersonal, and conceptual skills that help them analyze situations and interact appropriately.

Project management deals with planning, delegating, monitoring, and controlling the project; in other words, it’s the administration of the project. Project managers should be able to work well under pressure and should feel comfortable with change and complexity in dynamic environments. If not, they won’t be good project managers and won’t deliver the project’s goals and expected outcomes in the defined requirements of cost, quality, and time.

Project managers should be able to shift readily between the big picture and the small-but-crucial details, knowing when to concentrate on each. They should be able to adapt their communication according to the project stakeholders. When a project manager is with the project stakeholders, he should be strategic and talk according to the big picture; when he is with the project team, he can talk about the details.

Likewise, a project manager should know how to speak according to the stakeholders’ interests and avoid technical speeches. He or she should know how to cultivate the people skills needed to develop trust and communication among all of a project’s stakeholders: its sponsors, those who will make use of the project’s results, those who command the resources needed, and the project team members.

Project managers are always improving their own and their teams’ skills through lessons-learned reviews at project completion.

Project managers are found in every kind of organization, as employees, managers, contractors, and independent consultants. With experience, they may become program managers (responsible for multiple related projects) or portfolio managers (responsible for selection, prioritization, and alignment of projects and programs with an organization’s strategy).

Project managers are in increasing demand worldwide. Indeed, organizations have been directing more of their energy into projects rather than routine operations, as the rhythm of economic and technological change has accelerated.

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