What Does a Project Manager Do? A Complete Guide to Project Manager’s Roles and Responsibilities
What does a project manager do?
Project managers are key players in the life of any company. They have many varied responsibilities, from managing project scope to communicating with clients. But what does a project manager do, exactly?
Well, project managers are often known as the “unsung heroes” behind a project. They plan, organize, and ensure teams complete tasks on time and within budget. But there’s a lot more that goes into the role than just planning or managing resources.
Today, we’ll cover all the information you need to know about this role, as well as some tips on how to be successful at it.
Let’s start with the basics.
What Is a Project Manager?
A project manager is responsible for the successful completion of a specific project. They work with an array of professionals and experts to plan, execute, monitor the progress of, and deliver projects on time.
Through careful project planning and effective execution, project managers make sure the project is completed within time and budget constraints. During the project, they monitor work progress to ensure everything is going according to plan and take action if they spot deviations.
Project managers are also responsible for handling obstacles and problems that may arise throughout the project life cycle.
For example, if a deadline can’t be met, project managers should identify which tasks can be delayed and which need to be completed within the stipulated time.
If the project is behind schedule, a project manager must implement strategies to ensure things get back on track.
That’s why project managers should always be competent in time management and hold exceptional communication skills.
The value good project managers bring to an organization can’t be underestimated, whether in rapid product development for a start-up, process efficiencies as part of an established operation, or anything in between.
What Is the Main Role of a Project Manager?
Project managers do a bit of everything.
In essence, project managers are responsible for taking a project from conception to completion. They oversee everything that needs to be done to ensure the project is delivered on time and within budget.
They do this by assigning tasks, working with experts in different departments, managing staff, delegating responsibilities, and making sure everyone works together to complete the project successfully.
Some key responsibilities of project managers may include:
- Status reporting: Project managers must monitor project progress and report to key stakeholders on a regular basis.
- Staff management: A project manager is often responsible for overseeing team members and making sure they complete their tasks and responsibilities.
- Resource coordination: A project manager must coordinate the activities of the project team to ensure everything runs smoothly.
- Documentation: Project managers are responsible for various documentation tasks, such as project plans, meeting minutes, and status reports.
- Monitoring and controlling: The project manager is responsible for monitoring the progress of the project and controlling any potential issues that might arise.
- Mentoring and training: Project managers are often responsible for mentoring and training less experienced project managers within the company.
- Decision-making: Project managers make decisions on a daily basis regarding the project's timeline, resources, and priorities, to name a few.
What Qualifications Do Project Managers Need?
Now that you understand the basics of the project management role, the question becomes, how can you become one? Do you need formal education? A certification? Or on-the-job experience?
The short answer is: it depends.
Even though you don't need a "project management degree" to become a project manager, having a formal education in business or operations management is always helpful.
A degree helps you stand out from other candidates and helps you understand the technicalities of how to better manage projects.
But it's certainly not required, as you can learn everything you need to know on the job, too. Sometimes, all you need is an open mind, a willingness to learn, and the ambition to take on an important role.
And even if you're already experienced in the field, you can choose to be formally educated to broaden your skills and knowledge.
Getting a project management certification can be valuable, too. This shows that you are experienced and knowledgeable about your role.
In the next section, we’ll cover specific tips that’ll help you become a highly-effective PM.
Four Practical Tips to Become a Highly-Effective Project Manager
At this point, you already understand the role of a project manager. Now, let’s step into practical advice.
We’ll cover four helpful tips that’ll help you become a more effective project manager.
1. Get Familiar With Popular Project Management Methodologies
As a project management professional, you need to be familiar with the most popular methodologies used in project management.
You need to understand the pros and cons of each one, when it's appropriate to use them, and how you can fit them into your work.
Let’s look at two of the most common project management methodologies:
In general, the Waterfall method is a linear approach. This means that you start at one end of the project management process and work your way through it step-by-step until you finish.
This means that once you start a project, there isn't much flexibility to change what you do. In other words, it's not very adaptable.
The Waterfall method can be ideal for projects that have well-defined requirements at the outset and don't require much flexibility.
In the Agile approach, instead of following a linear path, you work in short time blocks to complete projects. In the most popular Agile framework — Scrum — these are called sprints.
Within each sprint, you loop through repeated stages of the project lifecycle: planning, doing, and reviewing.
Changes can be incorporated into the project at any time. This method is flexible, but it also means that your schedule needs to be flexible to account for these changes.
This approach works best for projects where the requirements aren’t fully defined upfront. Through iteration and close collaboration with business stakeholders, requirements are refined during the project lifecycle.
2. Focus on Clear Communication
Effective communication is also a key skill for project managers.
It's very important for you to keep your team motivated and fully informed about what's going on.
When you can't convey information to your project team, whether due to location barriers or other factors, there's usually trouble.
At the very least, you want to avoid misunderstandings. And at best, you want your team to be proactive and work well together.
The right project management platform can solve this issue pretty effectively. A solid solution helps you centralize your work into one place and makes it easy for your entire team to access the right information at the right time.
Using one will also help you monitor project progress, assign tasks, and manage time more effectively.
With SmartSuite, for example, you can invite your entire team and assign them tasks in one place. You can also communicate in context and keep the conversation relevant at all times.
You can also manage everyone’s time with a high level of granularity so that you know exactly what each project team member is working on and how much time it takes them.
This way, your team can be proactive, and you'll know what they're working on at all times.
3. Learn to Prioritize Effectively
Being able to prioritize is another essential skill for project managers.
In most cases, there’s almost always too much work to do. And even when you have a clear cut of tasks, they don't all have the same importance or urgency.
Some tasks are vital for your project to succeed, while others can wait until later on.
You need to be able to prioritize your tasks and projects to allocate your resources more efficiently.
Efficient project management platforms can help you do this, too.
In SmartSuite, you can set due dates for multiple projects and tasks. Within each task, you can then prioritize which ones are most important and should be tackled first.
You can then follow your progress, make changes as needed, and know exactly what’s happening at any given time. This helps you streamline your workflows and make sure everything gets done according to plan.
4. Be Incredibly Transparent
Transparency is essential in project management.
When you’re transparent, your team is more likely to be successful, and projects will run smoothly.
When you have a good sense of how everyone is doing, there's no need for micromanagement. By the same token, you'll have a good overview of where projects stand and what's been done so far.
This means you can give more feedback and assign tasks accordingly.
It also makes for a better experience working with your team since you'll be able to solve problems together instead of through formal reporting.
Here's where the right solution comes in handy.
For example, with SmartSuite, you can build a highly-transparent workplace for your entire team. This way, everyone knows what's going on at all times.
You can create reporting dashboards and share them with relevant team members so that everyone is aware of progress and understands how things are going.
You can also set permissions to make sure only the right people access the right information and prevent potential data leaks.
SmartSuite allows your team to communicate more transparently and stay on the same page at all times.
This means you'll be able to disseminate crucial information and create a culture where employees can be proactive.
Why Software Is the Project Manager’s Secret Weapon
Less than 25% of organizations have tapped into project management software already.
Most of them still rely on spreadsheets and pen and paper, which makes tracking progress in real-time challenging.
By adopting a work management platform for your organization, you can develop a true competitive advantage and get the most out of every project.
Now the question is, how can you choose the right platform?
Let’s cover a few essential features to look for.
1. Team Collaboration Features
The better the communication, the more efficient the work.
Project management software should offer a powerful collaborative environment for all team members. This way, you can see what’s going on in real-time without interrupting your workflow.
For example, an update to your project might cause some delays and cancellations. These changes need to be addressed by the project manager quickly, so they can inform the client and make an impact assessment of the situation.
In cases like this, smart project management software should provide a message board where everyone can communicate and discuss changes in real-time.
With SmartSuite, you can create team tasks, assign them to the right people, and reply to comments directly from your inbox.
This allows for contextual communication and helps you improve the way your team interacts.
You can also create news and announcements to keep your teams informed about changes in the project and even automate many routine administrative project management tasks.
2. Effective Task Management
Well-planned work is key to overall productivity and project success. But planning itself can be a time-consuming process that often requires a lot of manual work.
That’s why project management software is so useful. With it, you can manage all the details related to any project, track the status of individual tasks, and see who’s doing what.
Additionally, you can plan work according to predefined project schedules and set deadlines for individual tasks.
With SmartSuite, you can easily create task lists with all the necessary details, such as start and end dates, priority levels, assigned people, and even links to documents and files.
In addition to that, you can use predefined templates to plan projects quickly without the need to create new task lists for each specific project.
For instance, with SmartSuite's task manager template, you can easily organize all your tasks in one place, set deadlines for each task, and assign resources to tasks with just a few clicks.
You can even prioritize tasks with different colors and set deadlines for each category of tasks.
This way, you can spot any potential problems early on and resolve them before they become a real headache.
3. Visuals and Customization
A work management platform can be significantly more efficient if it provides customization options and allows you to add and change its look and feel.
So, look for a solution that comes with a customizable, user-friendly interface.
With SmartSuite, you can customize your dashboard in just a few clicks to suit your preferences and keep all important data at hand.
You can also use drag and drop actions to easily move around tasks, lists, and pages, and you can even add your own widgets.
This allows you to quickly adapt any project to your exact needs and make it as visual as possible.
Let’s Manage Some Projects
Project managers play a key role in the success of any project.
Hopefully, now you have enough information to either become a great project management professional or find the right one for your team.
And, if you’re looking for a powerful work management system to manage your projects, then SmartSuite can help.
With a visual interface, automation rules, and collaboration features, SmartSuite revolutionizes the way you manage your work.
To see for yourself, we suggest you explore our numerous project management templates. They’re fully customizable, and you can start immediately.
- Project management
- Single project
- Task manager
- Agile projects
- Project requests
- Status reports
- Time tracker