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A project manager, PM, is responsible for managing resources and getting things done on schedule and within budget. The PM is also responsible for change management, because projects by nature bring about changes, large or small. Projects do vary in complexity, size and scope, but following a framework or standard set of methodologies helps to bring projects to successful and well-planned outcomes. An example of a project management framework can be found in the Project Management Institute’s body of knowledge, often referred to as the PMBOK.
As much as 90 percent of a PM’s time can be spent communicating. During project initiation and planning stages, communications clarify and confirm the project charter, scope and objectives. During execution, communications track status and performance, and also identify risks. At project close-down, communications inform stakeholders and sponsors of successful completion. To make all of these communications more effective and efficient, the PM develops and distributes communication plans early in the process. These plans are designed to address status updates, to keep team members, sponsors and other stakeholders informed, and to obtain approvals as needed throughout the project.
Communication is also a critical aspect of expectation management. The PM sets the expectations for sponsors, team members, vendors and the customers of the project. When setting expectations, the PM must create an unbiased environment to facilitate the project’s objectives. Responsibilities for expectation management include providing clear and honest information to all stakeholders. Communications must be designed to present information clearly, accurately and transparently. A constant responsibility for the PM involves maintaining a high degree of ethics and integrity from project start to close-down.
Scheduling and Planning
A PM develops a work breakdown structure, WBS, and a timeline showing project tasks and milestones. The WBS breaks a large project down into manageable deliverables that can be tracked to completion. Project management software or basic Gantt charts, bar graphics used to show the project’s master schedule and resource allocations. The PM must identify risk factors and work with team members to determine strategies required to mitigate those risks. At the project execution stage, the PM manages the resources to the schedule.
A PM’s goal is to deliver projects on-time and within budget. To meet this goal, the PM manages and monitors team and project performance. Monitoring current tasks with an eye on the future is important to make sure all resources, such as team members, equipment and materials, are available when needed to support the master schedule. As projects move through the execution phase, the PM monitors resource allocations and project costs to identify whether all deliverables are on-schedule and meeting performance metrics. If problems are identified, the PM takes action to get the project back on track.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.
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