The Advantages of Having a Project Manager
By Claudia Vandermilt
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.
Project Management in Business
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.
A Project Manager’s Role
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.
Project Definition – From the Start
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.
Project Managers and Motivation
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:
- Poor project management can create stress among project contributors and lead to higher turnover.
- Most people are happier working on productive teams with good communication and clearly-defined goals.
- Good project managers use established processes to proactively deal with the surprises and challenges that come with any complex project.
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.
Leadership: An Important Project Manager Attribute
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.
Project Manager Skill Set
Strong project managers are proficient in these areas:
- Math and analysis
- Technical ability
Along with the essential skills above, outstanding project managers usually possess these work style traits:
- Risk tolerance
- Composure, especially under pressure
Companies Need the Advantages of Project Managers
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.
Claudia Vandermilt is a skilled project manager with experience in internet marketing, travel, consumer goods and home necessities. She’s earned certificates in Applied Project Management and Advanced Certificate in Applied PM from Villanova and continues furthering her education and experience in project management across industries.