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The Role of the Project Manager

By Duncan Haughey, PMP
Group of business people working on project

A project manager is the person who has the overall responsibility for the successful initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of a project. The job title is used in construction, petrochemical, architecture, information technology and many different industries that produce products and services.

The project manager must have a combination of skills including an ability to ask penetrating questions, detect unstated assumptions and resolve conflicts, as well as more general management skills.

Key among his or her duties is the recognition that risk directly impacts the likelihood of success and that this risk must be both formally and informally measured throughout the lifetime of the project.

Risks arise from uncertainty, and the successful project manager is the one who focuses on this as the main concern. Most of the issues that impact a project arise in one-way or another from risk. A good project manager can lessen risk significantly, often by adhering to a policy of open communication, ensuring every significant participant has an opportunity to express opinions and concerns.

It follows that a project manager is one who is responsible for making decisions both large and small, in such a way that risk is controlled and uncertainty minimised. Every decision taken by the project manager should be taken in such a way that it directly benefits the project.

Project managers use project management software, such as Microsoft Project, to organise their tasks and workforce. These software packages allow project managers to produce reports and charts in a few minutes, compared with the several hours it can take if they do it by hand.

Roles and Responsibilities

The role of the project manager encompasses many activities including:

  • Planning and Defining Scope
  • Activity Planning and Sequencing
  • Resource Planning
  • Developing Schedules
  • Time Estimating
  • Cost Estimating
  • Developing a Budget
  • Documentation
  • Creating Charts and Schedules
  • Risk Analysis
  • Managing Risks and Issues
  • Monitoring and Reporting Progress
  • Team Leadership
  • Strategic Influencing
  • Business Partnering
  • Working with Vendors
  • Scalability, Interoperability and Portability Analysis
  • Controlling Quality
  • Benefits Realisation

Finally, senior management must give a project manager support and authority if he or she is going to be successful.

Enjoyed this article? Now read 21 Ways to Excel at Project Management External Link

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Comments (4)

Senior Education Officer
I agree with your description on the role and responsibilities of the project manager. To add more, PM is also responsible in procurement of resources and peace maker in the plant.
#1 - Paul Mabula Bayege - Tuesday 5th February 2013 - 07:44
MSc Student / Building Engineering
Very good explaination, but I think (site waste management planning and supply chain management) is also the responsibility of the project managers.
#2 - karwan dartash - Thursday 14th February 2013 - 00:51
I think it is also the role of the project manager to break the project into different segments to make it understandable and easy to perform.
#3 - Akpadzi Christian - Wednesday 27th February 2013 - 02:00
Well said, the explanation is excellent. A project manager is the person responsible for accomplishing the stated project objectives so he/she need to follow all the guidelines described here.
#4 - Hanse Garre - Wednesday 27th February 2013 - 19:40
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A project manager is one who looks into the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to describe, organise, oversee and control the various project processes.

Information Icon Stages of a Project

Projects are divided into six stages:

  1. Definition.
  2. Initiation.
  3. Planning.
  4. Execution.
  5. Monitoring & Control.
  6. Closure.

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