The purpose of this article is to discuss the main responsibilities of a project manager. These three main responsibilities are planning, organizing, and controlling. Performing these responsibilities requires many skills. Some of these necessary skills will be outlined.
The planning function includes defining the project objective and developing a plan to accomplish the objective. The project manager should work with the project sponsor in order to define the specific objective of the project. Working with the sponsor is beneficial in many ways. For example, the sponsor is the person responsible for the resultant project and thus has a stake in the success of the project. Therefore, the sponsor should be very helpful in defining the project objective. In addition, “sponsors often can help secure interdepartmental cooperation and influence contractors and suppliers” (Davies, p. 83). This can be helpful throughout the life of the project.
The project manager must also develop a plan to accomplish the objective. The project manager should include project team members in this phase. Including members of the project team in the plan development phase “ensures a more comprehensive plan than he or she could develop alone (and) gains the commitment of the team to achieve the plan” (Gido & Clements, p. 292).
The organizing function involves identifying and securing necessary resources, determining tasks that must be completed, assigning the tasks, delegating authority, and motivating team members to work together on the project. Resources include both personnel and financing. “Most projects do not receive unlimited resource allotments, (so) the project manager must allocate the available resources” (Davies, p. 84).
The project manager must then determine what tasks must be completed. Once this has been done, the tasks should be assigned to project team members or subcontractors. The project manager may also delegate authority to certain team members to oversee task completion via supervision of those assigned the tasks.
Finally, the project manager must motivate members of the project team to work together in order to complete the goal. Conflicts may arise and often will occur when individuals working together come from departments with different goals. “The project manager needs to watch for anyone who loses sight of project goals in favor of individual goals” (Davies, p. 84). A project manager who is aware of the potential conflicts and is observant will be better able to manage those conflicts when they arise.
The controlling function involves tracking progress and comparing it with planned progress. Progress reports should be used to measure performance, as well as identify areas for improvement. “If actual progress falls behind planned progress or unexpected events occur, the project manager…(implements) …appropriate corrective action and how to replan those parts of the project” (Gido & Clements, p. 293). The project manager must be able to solve problems and get the project back on track.
Effective project managers must posses a variety of skills in addition to general management skills. While certain necessary skills may be dependent upon the project, there are some skills that all project managers should possess. These skills include, but are not limited to:
Analytical thinking – the ability to understand overall visions, as well as minute details
Organization – the ability to prioritize work
Leadership – the ability to inspire team members to execute the plan and successfully complete the project
Communication – the ability to communicate clearly, effectively, and regularly
Interpersonal – the ability to develop a relationship with each team member in order to know “what motivates them, how they think things are going, what concerns they have, and how they feel about things” (Gido & Clements, p. 301)
Problem-Solving – the ability to anticipate problems, recognize them when they arise, and solve them quickly and efficiently
Time Management – the ability to prioritize, delegate, and manage time effectively
Human resources – the ability to interview and choose team members with the proper skills and knowledge
The project manager responsibilities of planning, organizing, and controlling are general management responsibilities. In addition to these responsibilities, the effective project manager must possess a specific set of skills that can be used to manage projects successfully.
Davies, J. R. “Defining the Responsibilities of the Project Manager.” Plant Engineering, 48(9).
Gido, J. & Clements, J. P. “Successful Project Management.” (3rd ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western.