Project Manager, responsibilities, definitions and practices

What is Project Manager

The project manager is the person who has the authority and responsibility for a project. It is the project manager’s job to coordinate, assist and inform project stakeholders.

The official name according to the “National Classification of Occupations and Posts” is “Project Manager”, position code 1319-3002

Responsibilities of the project manager

The work of the project manager is considered to be very difficult and comprehensive, which is why these kinds of specialists are highly sought after and highly paid all over the world. This type of skills is especially important for anyone who is engaged in self-initiative activity, in which others are involved. A successful project manager must be proactive, anticipate the risks and address them adequately.

In practice, the project manager assumes responsibility for the project as a whole. To do this, it must perform a variety of functions, some of which are:

  • Guide
  • Decision making
  • Coordination – communicate with all project participants “in their language”.
  • Negotiation
  • Solving problems
  • Control
  • Reporting to sponsors

Like the other activities around the project, the manager may decide to delegate each of them, but ultimately it remains the overall responsibility. In countries, where skilled and reliable personnel are a very rare and valuable resource, it is often a requirement for project managers to be prepared to personally handle each subproject of the project or provide a quick replacement for each subcontractor.

What is a project

The term project is derived from the Latin word projectus, which means “advancing”, “advancing”. The formal definition of a project is a unique and time-limited endeavor. By unique, the result of a project is a new product or service, and limited in time means that there is a predetermined beginning and an end. This definition, as well as the overall science of project management, is being developed by various organizations around the world, but the oldest and most famous is the Project Management Institute, based in the United States and having affiliates around the world. In 1965, the International Project Management Association was created in Europe.

Main characteristics of a project

The project is an endeavor that requires a new type of organization of existing human, material and financial resources to achieve predefined and unique tasks within a limited budget and timeframe. The main characteristics of any project can be deduced from this definition:

  • Uniqueness – It is expressed in the uniqueness of the tasks, which in turn result from the nature of the goals pursued, namely the creation of a new and unique product or service (within the organization concerned).
  • Requires reorganization and restructuring of existing organizational resources (human, material and financial).
  • It exists on a tight budget.
  • It exists in a fixed time range (transience) – Each project is characterized by a beginning and an end, and in this sense, it is a temporary endeavor. The time span of projects can vary from several months to years depending on its specifics.
  • Subordinate to the goals set by the business – Most often the projects serve short to medium-term business goals. In the case of long-term goals, they are usually decomposed into several medium to short-term goals.
  • It exists in a dynamic environment – The result of existing constraints (in time/budget) and the dynamics inherent in the business environment and business goals.
  • Uncertainty – All the features described so far identify insecurity as an inherent feature of any project.
  • It is a tool for organizational change.

Related concepts

Often, the activities in an organization are divided into business operations and projects. Typically, business operation is the result of the successful implementation of a specific project and represents repetitive (cyclical) business activities. In this sense, the operation can be seen as the opposite of the project. An example of an operation is the mass production of a particular coffee machine model. An example of a project is the design and development of a new coffee machine model.

The project program is a set of interrelated (dependent) projects, subordinated to a common goal (most often long-term). This concept should not be confused with the project portfolio of an organization, which is a set of projects that it works on (usually in parallel) and which can pursue different goals.

Project management is the overall activity of defining, planning and executing a project in order for it to be successful for its participants. The success of a project is not straightforward (depends somewhat on the participants’ point of view) and may be related to the achievement of the goals and constraints set in advance, customer satisfaction, experience and knowledge (so-called organizational learning), etc. Project management is associated with many techniques, tools, methods, methodologies, standards and knowledge that are applied to give systematic and effective implementation.

Dissemination of projects

In the US, projects are the standard way of doing things. They are also widespread in the EU, with all EC funding programs operating on a project basis. This is mainly due to the fact that when properly managed, they are extremely transparent and anyone interested in the project is aware of its development.

Projects are mandatory in some industries because of the uniqueness of each endeavor in them:

Construction – In construction, a project is called the process of completing an object and the documentation on which it is carried out.
Information and Communication Technologies – Often, specific project management methodologies are used in this sector, such as flexible methodologies such as Scrum;
Marketing and Advertising;
Research activity;

Project Dimensions

Each project is characterized by three basic parameters, which are often referred to as a triangle (the so-called project triangle). By their nature, these parameters represent limitations that the implementation of the project must take into account (which is why they are often referred to as project constraints):

  • Time – Describes the time span of the project, indicating its start and end;
  • Cost (Budget) – Describes the resources that will be engaged and invested in the project (expressed in money);
  • Scope – Describes the product or service that will be created through the project.

Some authors add to the basic parameters another, fourth parameter – the quality in which they put the need to meet the needs and expectations of the client.

Other authors believe that quality is the result of successful management and proper balancing of the other parameters and therefore does not consider it as a standalone parameter.

There is a relationship between the different parameters of the project – any change in any of them causes a change in at least one of the other parameters. For this reason, it is good practice to define two of the parameters in accordance with the requirements and wishes of the client, while the third (balancing) parameter is determined and controlled by the organization implementing the project. Another good practice is to determine (identify) the leading parameter of the project – the one to which the client is most sensitive. It predetermines the specifics of project management and implementation and is well-identified as early as possible. Also, the lead parameter often defines the project goals and expected results, which is why the concepts of goal/result/parameter (limiter) are often blurred.

Project lifecycle

Due to their uniqueness and diversity, projects are very difficult to formalize. However, it can be said that each project fits into one standard life cycle with the following phases:

1. Initiation – At this initial stage, some key activities are undertaken related to defining the specifics and features of the project: defining its scope (in the form of business requirements and expectations for the product / service created), identifying participants and defining their roles / responsibilities, environmental analysis (external / internal), analysis of required financial resources and budgeting, risk analysis, etc. The main objective is that the project framework is well defined and accepted by all stakeholders. The end result is the formal launch of the project;

2. Planning – At this stage, the issues raised in the process of project initialization and timing are analyzed in detail. Includes: a detailed analysis of the scope of the project and its breakdown into a number of specific tasks (the implementation of which will guarantee the functional and non-functional requirements), grouping these tasks, linking them to specific intermediate results and control points, each task is evaluated against the necessary for the implementation of their resources and determine its timeframes and the human / material resources involved. The main objective at this stage is to allocate resources and time, ensuring the effective implementation and control of the project in accordance with the interests of all stakeholders. The end result is a project plan that provides the necessary basis for project implementation and control. A number of techniques and tools are used in the project planning process to support the achievement of its objectives;

3. Implementation – At this stage, the technically specific product or service is implemented, following the plans set out in the previous stage;

4. Control – At this stage, which often overlaps with the implementation of the project, it is monitored for its adherence to the set goals and plans and corrective actions are carried out if necessary;

5. Closure – At this stage, the final product or service is ready, checked to see if it meets the customer’s needs and expectations, and is then put into service. The project team is disbanded, after which the project is analyzed for the needs of organizational learning. The project is formally closed.

Project Lifecycle should not be mistaken in Product Lifecycle in the product management area where this term is related to the development of a product over time.

Stakeholders

For each project to be successful, it is crucial to analyze and manage its stakeholders, their roles and responsibilities. Stakeholders in a project can be conditionally divided into:

  • End users – Includes users who will actually use the product or service;
  • Project Owner – Includes the customer of the product or service;
  • Project Contractor – Includes the contractor for the product or service.

Depending on the commitment to the project and the interests pursued, a distinction is made here: senior management, which is not closely related to the implementation of the project but pursues certain business goals (strategic, tactical and purely operational) through it; and a project team that manages and implements the project.

The project team must balance the goals of all other participants, plan and implement the project successfully. It usually involves a project manager and a team of specialists (usually the organization itself, but may also have external specialists), but it depends a lot on the chosen organizational structure (functional, purely project organization, weak/balanced/strong matrix, etc.). ;

Other interested parties – Includes all other persons who are in one way or another related or interested in the project (creditors, investors, etc.);
Most commonly, the stakeholder analysis considers and defines the following roles:

  • A project manager is a person who has the authority and responsibility for a project. It is the project manager’s job to coordinate, assist and inform project stakeholders;
  • A sponsor or sponsor of a project is a person with greater authority than anyone directly involved in the project, which motivates the project to be realized. The project sponsor is the one who intervenes when, for example, the organization’s top management refuses to assist the project manager;
  • Customers and users;
  • Main project team;
  • Additional staff – Whether reassigned by another entity, subcontracted or otherwise provided;
  • Trade unions or industry organizations;
  • Suppliers and creditors – in cases of lease-purchase they overflow;
  • External actors – the public, environmental organizations, other organizations with interests in the field;

State and municipal administration – in American theory, this stakeholder has only recently emerged. This is mainly due to the fact that the US is a major driver in the global economy and business is only now facing bureaucracy in the rest of the world. In Europe, due to cultural backgrounds, regulations and legislation play a much more crucial role.

Join the Conversation

3 Comments

  1. Hello people,
    As fas as I understand project manager is someone who tries to create a project no matther of how and what. The important is that the scope, quality and costs are managed and everyone is satisfied. So based on this, if I do not apply standard practices and do not follow this responsibilities I am a project manager again, or not? I guess you will say Yes, but… If it`s yes what’s the problem anyway?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *