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.