What is the role of a Project Manager?

The role of a project manager is to lead a team that is responsible for achieving a project’s objectives. The size and structure of an organisation will determine who a project manager reports to. In a smaller organisation a project manager may report to a functional manager. In a larger organisation a project manager could report into a program or portfolio manager.

What is a project? How does it differ from ongoing work?

A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service. The word temporary means a project has a defined beginning and end. A project ends either because its objectives have been achieved, the client wants to terminate the project, or the project is no longer aligned to an organisation’s strategy.

Ongoing work is repetitive and follows the existing procedures within a company.

What are the process groups associated with traditional project management? What work is carried out in these processes?

The process groups associated with traditional project management are as follows:

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring & Controlling
  5. Closing

During the initiation phase a project charter is developed. The project charter outlines the business needs of the project, and the high-level requirements. The project charter also gives approval for a project manager to assign resources to a project. Stakeholders are also identified during project initiation.

During the planning phase the project management plan is developed. This involves defining the scope of a project, creating a work breakdown structure, defining & sequencing activities, estimating activity resources and durations, and creating a project schedule.

Included in the planning process group is estimating project costs, developing a project budget, planning quality management and HR management, identifying project risks and planning risk responses. Procurement planning and communications management are also considered.

During the executing phase the project manager directs and manages the project work. They will also acquire members of their project team, and invest time in developing and managing these people. The project manager will also communicate with the project sponsor, and key stakeholders.

During the monitoring & controlling phase the emphasis is on comparing actual progress to plan of a project. If changes are required to project scope, schedule or cost, the project manager may need to get approval from the project change control board.

During the project closing process the project manager will get final sign off on the project product/service from the sponsor and customer. The project manager will also compile lessons learned for future projects. Finally, the project manager will release resources back to functional managers, or make them available to other project managers.