The Project Manager is the person responsible for developing, in conjunction with the Project Sponsor, a definition of the project. The Project Manager then ensures that the project is delivered on time, to budget and to the required quality standard (within agreed specifications). He/she ensures the project has sufficient resources and manages relationships with a wide range of groups (including all project contributors).
The Project Manager is also responsible for managing the work of consultants, allocating and utilizing resources in an efficient manner and maintaining a co-operative, motivated and successful team. Additional responsibilities include: managing and leading the project team, recruiting project staff and consultants, managing co-ordination between the partners and working groups engaged in project work, detailed project planning and control. Control would incorporate:
- Developing and maintaining a detailed project plan.
- Managing project deliverables in line with the project plan.
- Maintaining records of and managing project issues.
- Resolving conflicts at project level.
- Managing project scope and change control and escalating issues where necessary.
- Monitoring project progress and performance.
- Providing status reports to the project sponsor.
- Managing project training within the defined budget.
- Liaison with, and updates on progress to, the project steering board/senior management.
- Managing project evaluation and dissemination activities.
- Managing consultancy input within the defined budget.
- Final approval of the design specification.
- Working closely with users to ensure the project meets business needs.
- Definition and management of : “User Acceptance Testing” stage.
- Identifying user training needs and devising and managing user training programmes.
As an illustration of the roles and responsibilities of a Project manager, I am going to use the simple example of changing the wheel of a car with one person in charge (project manager). In the exposition that follows, the steps followed will be under the headlines of the five essential ones outlined in the PMBOK:
The initiating stage in replacing a punctured car-wheel is the process of preparing to replace the wheel. To begin with, the project manager, or whoever is overseeing the operation, ensures that all the tools necessary for the job are available. The tools necessary in this case would comprise the jerk, wheel spanner, the unique key-for some car models, maybe some props such as stones where there is a possibility of the car slipping downhill and finally, labor.
Once the initiating stage is completed, we move on to the planning stage whereby different strategies are proposed and quickly debated with one being agreed upon. The role of the project manager in this stage is to ensure that everyone is given an opportunity to express their opinions on how best to approach the problem. Then, he/she should harmonize every participant’s views and in cases if the group cannot reach a resolution unanimously, he/she should apply his/her critical thinking abilities and skills in choosing the most reasonable approach that would be most efficient, effective and feasible.
The planning would entail deciding which nuts to unscrew first e.g. diagonally, where to place the jerk and the props and where to put the tools and nuts in such a manner as to ensure they don’t get lost or pose a hazard to any of the team members. The Plan will also incorporate delegation of duties amongst the team members i.e. deciding who will place the jerk, who will unscrew the nuts, who will carry the spare wheel, and who will screw the new wheel back.
The delegation of duties should be fair such that no member feels exploited or alienated and it is the work of the project manager to study everyone’s character and tell who is suited best for what. The final parts of the plan involve training participants as necessary, scheduling everything, and monitoring progress.
Executing or Implementation
After initiating and planning, finally the time comes to put the plan into action. During this stage, the team implements the strategy decided upon with a view to achieving the intended objective. The team removes the bad wheel and replaces it with one that is in good condition. The work of the project manager is to ensure that each participant plays his/ her assigned role and that the operation goes according to plan by correcting any digressions and getting rid of any impediments that might arise in the course of the implementation.
Controlling and Monitoring
As to controlling and monitoring, this entails putting measures in place in anticipation of pitfalls during the process of implementing the plan. Pitfalls to be anticipated might include: some members do not like the roles they are assigned and so they don’t play their roles with the necessary devotion. Also it is possible that some members might want to sabotage the project for any of a number of reasons or one of the tools gets damaged and cannot be repaired in time for the work at hand.
To avoid alienation, the project manager should make every member feel as though they own the project and when it succeeds the glory will be shared and the benefits mutual. In addition, the project manager has the responsibility of ensuring that, if a member were assigned a role he/she does not like, they are free to voice their concerns so that a speedy resolution is sought. The speedy resolution could be training or instruction where a member is assigned work they do not know how to do. Alternatively, members could swap roles to resolve any stalemates. Finally, a backup plan should be in place to cater for unanticipated hitches.
In finishing up, the project manager should ensure the team tightens the nuts to the required extent and remove the jerk and props. He/she should also ensure that any member who sustains any injury should be attended to and all the tools-wheel spanners, jerk, props, key- together with the bad wheel are all returned and checked to ensure they are in good condition, then put in their respective places of storage.
- K. Bainey, The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), 3rd ed. Project Management Institute, New Jersey, 2004