Skilled project managers are invaluable to businesses implementing complex, project-based processes completed by teams of workers. This specialty fulfills an increasingly important role in countless companies. With thousands of project manager openings currently posted on major job-search sites, it's clear that project management is one of today's fastest-growing professions.
The project manager's role varies according to industry and individual business, but at its heart, project management entails balancing a project's timeframe, budget and overall scope as the team works to meet its objectives. Project managers oversee the individual tasks that move a project toward completion, so its ultimate success or failure depends in large part on the project manager's competency.
In companies where projects are frequently late, over budget or fail to meet their objectives, hiring a skilled project manager can improve productivity and morale - and often leads to greater profitability.
Generally, a project manager's assignments fall under the wide umbrella of "keeping a project on goal." This can mean working with a wide variety of people, from C-level executives to hourly support staff.
A project manager must define what a project will achieve - and then ensure it meets those goals. The first step is to estimate the time, human and capital resources, and steps needed. Then, the project manager forms the teams to carry out the tasks - and leads them toward completion. Project managers provide much-needed direction to ensure that at every phase of the project, each contributor knows what's expected.
Project managers communicate with upper management and outside vendors and clients as needed. In fact, proactive communication is one of a project manager's most important functions.
Defining the concept, goals, approach and reason for a given project is crucial to its success. Before launch, the project manager communicates these definitions to stakeholders and obtains their agreement and support. All resources, risks and benefits are identified, and contingency and communication plans are outlined.
The project plan, budget and schedule are based on available resources, deliverables, and company or client priorities. Project managers typically use professional software packages in the complex planning and monitoring stages. Network diagrams illustrate the project's critical paths to completion.
Project managers monitor the project at each stage, analyzing progress and communicating to upper management and others involved, including sub-contractors in external organizations. As goals change or unexpected risks arise, the plan is amended to reflect scheduling, budget and other modifications.
Good project managers provide the motivation team members need to help bring a project to successful completion. Among the advantages of having a project manager:
When team members see a competent leader handling each crisis, it can be inspiring and motivating. Workers who know that clear direction and communication will be part of their job every day more likely to perform at their best.
Because teams need strong leaders, the most successful project managers are also decisive, inspiring leaders. When these essential skills are lacking, morale and productivity can drop, along with sales and profits.
Strong project managers are proficient in these areas:
Along with the essential skills above, outstanding project managers usually possess these work style traits:
Few companies can fulfill sales and profit goals, efficiency and productivity objectives, and shareholder expectations without skilled project managers. An excellent project manager's leadership can result in higher morale, a greater sense of ownership and professionalism among team members, and increased productivity and profitability.
Project managers can master best strategies through training programs offered online. Villanova University offers a 100% online project management certificate program that is delivered via a flexible, video-based e-learning platform. Villanova has earned a reputation as the leading provider of project management education online. Professionals explore critical topics in Villanova's Certificate in Applied Project Management program. Students can also prepare for industry certification as a PMP® or CAPM® - which can lead to expanded career opportunities and more successful projects.
PMP® is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.