First of all, let’s define both concepts:
A unique and temporary endeavor, with a clear beginning and end, that delivers value, either tangible, like a product, or intangible, like services or knowledge.
A process to achieve goals, that is composed by Plan, Organize, Execute and Control activities.
Is the process to produce unique deliverables in a defined period of time, applying a series of management techniques to make sure the results to be accomplished.
Pretty simple, right? well it is. Projects themselves may became tremendously complex though, but don’t worry, the fundamentals to manage them remains the same.
Let’s define what a Project Manager is:
Is the person responsible of manage the project, assure that delivers the desired outcome, accomplishing this on time and within a budget.
Commonly, PMs (Project Managers) are in charge of planning, organizing, controlling, and make sure that the tasks, the activities that must be carried on are executed, but do not execute them him/her self.
So, we can define his/her responsibilities
Project Manager Responsibilities
- Plan and organize the project.
- Communicate regularly the project need.
- Help to solve issues to ensure the project is carried on.
- Keep the project within budget and time.
- Assure the quality of the project outcome.
- Managing tasks
- Update status to all people involved, the stakeholders.
So, who are the stakeholders?
Are the people involved in the project, who are affected by it and are interested in its results.
For example, the founders of an startup that have a project to developing their website, and the investors that fund it are clearly stakeholders in this example, but also are for example, the manager of the web design agency hired to develop the website. And there may be more people involved, but I think it’s clear now.
Are the customers stakeholders? Yeah, of course. Let’s dig in:
Any person or entity (companies, businesses and other organizations) that decides about the requirements of the project outcome and budget. So, for the Project Manager’s point of view, there are two types of customers:
The team, and the managers and executives within the company are internal customers of the project.
The typical customers: Consumers, clients, etc. Also, the vendors and providers are considered external customers.
With this in mind, we can redefine the modern role of Project Manager, due that deals with two kind of people, the internal and the external customers. We mention the team in the Internal customers, let’s extend on this topic:
The project activities are performed by a team that is managed by the Project Manager, even if is not their direct manager in the company, he/she is their leader in the accomplishment of the project.
Each team member is responsible of perform it’s work, in the form of assigned tasks, and also, the expert in their part of the project.
The Project Manager helps the team, to adopt a Project Management methodology, to solve issues that may become impediments for the team to work, and collaborating with other teams to assure meeting the project’s requirements.
Every person in the team have motivations, skills, strong and weak points, and needs. Is the Project Manager job to value, trust, appreciate the team and address their needs, recognize their effort and to maintain the workflow smooth.
Also, the Project Manager deals with the external customers and the stakeholders, to fulfill their expectations about the project’s outcome. As you can see, the Project Manager focus is on the customers, the externals and the internals, his/her focus is on the people.
The Project Manager is the link between the team and the stakeholders, it’s in charge of guiding the team to accomplish the desired outcome, and to manage effectively the communication with the stakeholders, it’s all about relationships, that’s why is very important to communicate effectively, be respectful and considerate, listen carefully and value others. Diplomacy is the name of the game.
To communicate effectively is to be clear, understandable, focused and timely. Project Manager must communicate the high level goals, a clear vision, specially to the team, in order for them to understand where the project is going and why.
Also, communicate the highlights and achievements of every team member is very important, it will build trust and an acknowledgement environment.
Possibly the most important thing to consider in communication is availability, Project Managers doors are always open.
Big part of the job is to make sure that people are able to work, providing tools, access, information, from the team and other teams and the stakeholders. This will empower the team and induce them to be creative and innovative, to be able to focus in their work, in solving problems to achieve the project’s goals. Take away the barriers and the stoppers allows easy and fluid collaboration in the team.
Gift of people is something that really shines in Project Management, the ability to interact with other people, behave accordingly and assure a fluid communication between the parts.
A Project Manager is a leader and must behave accordingly, to be an example for the team to follow in his/her behavior. Paying special attention to what people have to say and act accordingly is vital to make the project succeed.
A good leader cares about his/her team, get to know them, their lives, what they like and what don’t, showing real interest in them. In project management, both the team that performs project activities and the stakeholders are the Project Manager’s team.
Project Managers helps the team to achieve high performance, explaining them clearly the expectations of the project and the stakeholders, to avoid ambiguity, which may lead to rework.
Also, helps the team to solve problems, take their feedback in consideration for the project’s plans and empower team members, delegating responsibilities and assure they can work with the stakeholders.
Modern project management must deal with constant change, adjust, adjust, adjust, to the stakeholder needs, the market changes, from the customer feedback, the Project Manager must identify the possible changes and evaluate their impact, in the budget, the time and the task to be done.
Project’s completion require work. This work is break down into activities, that can be break down in smaller task. This is most likely the famous part of project management, the To-Do lists.
Open a project management tool, write some task, setup deadlines, assign them to the team members, is possible that this is what we most know about project management, and is not far from reality, but is deeper, every task in the plan must be valuable, the progress should be updated constantly, milestones to indicate significant progress must be set and every issue, every delay and every completed work must be documented. It’s hard work, but organization and monitoring really pays off.
Well, that’s it for the first part of Project Management 101, I hope all concepts were easy to understand, simple enough to comprehend them and put them into practice. There’s a lot more on project management, and we will get to it soon. Good managing!