The Crucial Role of a Project Manager
Just as baseball teams need coaches to lead them to victory and ships need captains to steer them to a destination, project managers (PMs) are needed to bring about changes within budget guidelines and on time. Without a leader in the form of a project manager, chaos reigns because nobody has their eye on the overall objective. Instead, team members from cross-functional areas represent different and sometimes competing interests. Unique skill sets are not coordinated. There is lots of "noise." But, very little work is accomplished.
Designate a project manager and everything changes. The PM accepts full responsibility for the outcome...its success or failure. He or she believes in the objective and is accountable for the results. The larger interest in achieving a defined goal enables the PM to provide leadership in planning, organizing and controlling the work effort, which happens to be a textbook definition of project manager responsibilities according to Successful Project Management.
A project can take many forms and each one is unique. It can be technical or creative in nature, large or complex, relate to a for-profit or non-profit organization, and involve any number of people. Regardless of the details, the project management life cycle and the tasks a project manager performs remain fairly constant. In fact, you may recognize many project management activities in your own personal endeavors, such as moving or landscaping your yard!
Below we take a comprehensive look at project manager duties in three broad categories often identified in textbooks: planning, organizing and controlling. Ideally, the duties would follow a somewhat orderly fashion. Since we don't live in the textbook world, this article delves into the true responsibilities of a project manager, including some areas you might not have considered.