Guide

Project management

Advantages of having a project manager

Project manager is the focal point of any project. They act as a vital link between staff, stakeholders and the project steering group.

What is the role of a project manager?

The project manager is responsible for making sure that a project is planned, developed, implemented, controlled and closed. A project manager will:

  • build a project team
  • outline a project plan with details of specific tasks and activities
  • understand the dependencies between the project and its tasks
  • schedule project activities and group dependent tasks into larger processes
  • define the objectives of the project
  • devise a strategy and map out the inputs, resources and outputs of the process
  • keep detailed project records
  • control the implementation of the project, including change requests
  • respond to changes through the involvement of staff, stakeholders and customers
  • identify and mitigate project risks
  • communicate to all those involved in the project
  • hand over the deliverables to customer or clients

What skills does a project manager need?

Effective project managers usually have a long list of abilities and skills. As well as having generic management skills, a good project manager should have:

  • good planning skills
  • ability to think strategically and understand the project objectives
  • ability to manage change and minimise disruption if unexpected circumstance arise
  • ability to work within often conflicting constraints such as time, quality and cost
  • good leadership skills that can inspire, organise and manage collaborative teams
  • ability to manage risks, prevent them from occurring and minimise their impact
  • communication expertise and ability to build relationships both internally and externally
  • confidence, diligence and organisational skills

Who should manage your project?

For small projects, it is common for existing managers to take on the temporary role of a project manager, either as a time-limited secondment, or alongside their day-to-day role.

If you lack project management skills in-house, you can hire a professional project manager either for a specific project or on a longer-term basis. This could be on a freelance or fixed-term contract if you're not likely to require a full-time position. See recruiting staff on fixed-term contracts.

How to choose a project manager?

When looking to appoint a project manager, you should consider the needs of a project, including the time and resources needed to manage it. A project manager does not usually directly participate in the activities that produce the end result, but drives progress and manages the processes of the project instead. Therefore, a gifted designer may not be a good choice to manage a design project, as this may not be where their strengths lie.