The project manager is the ultimate authority responsible for the successful completion of a project. They establish the critical success factors and take responsibility for achieving them.
The buck stops here.
Usually the project manager inherits requirements that the project must work with, such as budget, stakeholder concerns, and so forth. These are codified within the project charter (i.e above the project). But everything else is then planned by the project manager. They take responsibility for the 5 project phases:
- Monitoring & Controlling
They create the expectations within the project management plan and must ensure those expectations are met. The project management plan contains the project schedule, budget, stakeholder needs, communication requirements, risk analysis, and anything else that is considered part of the project plan.
The project management plan is approved by the project sponsor and hence becomes the official project plan.
During project execution the project manager performs monitoring and controlling work such as earned value analysis, quality audits, risk analysis and so forth to ensure the project stays on track. Any deviations from the project plan must be recorded in a change log and re-approved by the project sponsor. This includes the two most important items for most projects, the schedule and budget.
Once the project is complete the project manager must close the project, creating as-built plans, closing contracts and establishing warranties and so forth.
The following are 30 roles and responsibilities of the project manager:
- Defining project success
The project manager must determine the definition of project success. Most projects have budget and deadline as critical success factors, but there are usually others, like satisfying a certain external stakeholder, maintaining a certain quality level, or achieving a certain certification. The better this is defined, the more likely the success criteria will be achieved.
- Writing the project management plan
The project manager is responsible for developing the plan which specifies how the project’s goals will be met, and distributing it to stakeholders.
- Directing and managing project work
The day to day activities of the project require strong leadership from the project management team.
- Initiating project changes
Almost all projects experience changes to their original plan. The project manager must initiate these changes and seek approval from the applicable stakeholders.
- Developing a project budget
The project budget is often the most scrutinized part of the project. The project manager’s job is to determine how much money is required to achieve the project’s objectives.
- Monitoring the project budget and schedule status
Projects are by definition finite and unique, that is, they have a defined beginning and end, as well as a budget. Hence, the budget and schedule are major factors in the success of virtually all projects. The project manager tracks these two items. The earlier a variance to the budget or schedule can be identified, the earlier it can be dealt with.
- Dividing the project into tasks
Projects are divided into a sequence of tasks, called a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Project tracking and control happens against the WBS.
- Creating the schedule
Since projects have a defined beginning and end, the project manager must communicate the expected completion date to the applicable stakeholders, as well as any milestone dates.
- Monitoring schedule progress
Finishing a project late is one of the biggest issues facing many projects. Thus, monitoring the schedule progress throughout the project execution is paramount to strong project management.
- Determining resources
The type, number, and quality of resources that are required to achieve the project’s goals must be determined during the project planning phase.
- Procuring resources
The resources must be acquired in timely manner and at a reasonable cost.
- Negotiating contracts
Whether a verbal agreement among friends, or a long contract written by lawyers, every project contains at least one contract – the one that created it. Any other contracts between subcontractors, subconsultants, or trades must be negotiated to give the project a strong, competitive foundation.
- Acquiring the project team
The project manager must find the project team.
- Determining the project team roles and responsibilities
The project manager must assign job descriptions and determine what skill sets are required to achieve the project’s goals with minimal cost.
- Developing the project team
Advancing the project team’s knowledge base to ensure the project benefits from the right knowledge set is a crucial factor in the success of most projects, but it also ensures that employees are committed and loyal.
- Motivating the project team
The project team must receive motivation from the project manager to ensure they produce the highest quality project deliverables.
- Acquiring the project resources
The project resources must be acquired at a reasonable cost, and be available when the project needs them.
- Monitoring and controlling project resources
Many project resources have escalating cost provisions, or get consumed at a planned rate, especially those which are outsourced. Controlling the use of these project resources can heavily influence a project’s success.
- Determining the project scope
Every action by a project team member either falls within the project’s scope, or it doesn’t. Although the exact definition of where the project starts and ends is sometimes blurry, the project manager should attempt to define the boundaries of the project with as much precision as necessary during project planning.
- Preventing unauthorized scope change (scope creep)
It is ridiculously easy to let people add things to the project that were never planned, especially small items that appear to be insignificant. However, collectively these things are called “scope creep,” and they can multiply and cause great project distress.
- Identifying stakeholders
The project stakeholders are the judge and jury who determine the success or failure of the project, and there is no excuse for poor stakeholder identification by project managers.
- Managing stakeholder expectations
Stakeholders, by definition, have an interest in the project on one level or another. Thus, they have expectations regarding how the project will meet their needs. These expectations must be actively managed. Many projects have performed fantastic work but were not considered a success because stakeholder relations were poor (or vice versa).
- Communicating with stakeholders
The project manager must maintain a stakeholder register and perform the required communication to ensure that stakeholders are kept informed and make the necessary decisions to keep the project moving forward.
- Creating project updates
Project updates are circulated to many stakeholders, like the project sponsor, performing organization, project team, and external stakeholders.
- Determining quality standards
Projects always have an end product that is produced, or operational process that is improved. The quality level of this end product has cost implications and must be defined during project planning.
- Quality control
During project execution, the project manager ensures that the quality level of the end products meets the specifications determined during project planning.
- Identifying risks
All projects have risks which, if they occur, affect the project’s success factors. The better these risks are identified, the better they can be anticipated and managed.
- Analyzing risks
Some risks are more important than others. Strong risk analysis ensures the project manager is focused on the things that can trip up a project.
- Developing risk response plans
The most important risks should have a risk response plan drawn up during project planning. All team members should be informed of this plan to ensure a rapid response that meets the stakeholders needs.
- Closing the project
Project closure is one of the most forgotten, yet highly visible areas of project management to senior executives. There are almost always contracts to close, final details to compile, and inspections to do. Getting project closure right is imperative to strong project management.