What does a project manager do?

A Project Manager uses skills, associated knowledge, tools, and techniques to complete projects and deliver value to people. A project could be the construction of a building, expansion of sales into an untested market, development of software for an improved business process, etc.

All projects are short-term efforts to create value- through products or services or by increasing efficiency in the existing process. Every project has a defined goal, a team to achieve the goal, and a person who leads the team and oversees its functioning.

The Project Manager’s role is in huge demand across industries. Let’s understand what project managers do!

Here are some FAQs around the profile of a project manager:

Who is a Project Manager?

A professional who plans, organizes, and executes projects is a project manager. He/she works within restraints- deadlines, schedules, and budgets. They define goals, lead teams, communicate with stakeholders, and oversee projects through completion.

Be it any project, such as the construction of a building, expansion of sales into an untested market, or development of software for an improved business process, a project manager is responsible for its success and failure.

What Does a Project Manager Do?

There are many ways to manage a project since no two projects are the same. Every project comes with its needs and factors that impact how a project manager takes action to achieve goals.

A project is divided into different phases, collectively known as the project lifecycle. A lifecycle consists of- initiation, planning, execution, and finally closure. A project manager leads and guides the team through the project lifecycle.

A project manager is responsible for:

  • Defining the goal of a project
  • Planning and budgeting a project
  • Assessing risks
  • Managing resources within constraints
  • Meeting deadlines in a project
  • Documenting the progress of a project
  • Communicating with stakeholders
  • Leading quality assurance

What Are the Qualifications required to Become a Project Manager?

Project Management is a diverse role.

The required qualifications often vary by industry and company. There are 2 main areas to consider when looking to build a career in project management.

Project Manager Education

An education that is relevant to the industry is always preferred. Many project managers have a degree in computer science or business.

A graduate degree is not strictly required but would help you build leadership skills. Graduate degrees such as Masters in Management (MiM), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or a Master of Science in Management (MSM) should be considered.

Certifications for Project Manager Jobs

A professional certificate would help you to stand out. Certifications help both freshers out of college and experienced professionals looking to pivot into a new career in project management.

  • Certified Associate in Project Management(CAPM): It is an entry-level project management course. The Project Management Institute(PMI) administers it. It would help you get entry-level positions in Project Management.
  • Project Management Professional(PMP): This is a credential for experienced professionals looking to advance their careers. The UCL Project Management Certificate fulfills the syllabus required to pass the PMP exam. More often than not, it is mentioned in the project manager job description as a basic requirement

What Are the Top 10 Project Management Skills?

A Project Management role requires both technical and soft project management skills. They are:

Project Management Approaches and Methodologies

They are the rules that determine how you would manage a project. Some common approaches include the Waterfall method and the Agile Method (which are discussed in length under Project Management Methodologies).

Project Initiation

The start of the project is the trickiest bit that is critical to its success. Initiating a project would include- setting realistic goals, determining resources i.e. budget and a team, etc.

Risk Management

Assessing risks is important to mitigate them and ensure smoother delivery. Risk Management would include- identifying such events that might derail the project, decreasing the chances of such events occurring, and responding in the least time if they do.

Project Management Tools and Softwares

As a project manager, you would be expected to know how to use tools such as:

  • Collaboration Tools: Google Drive, Dropbox
  • Work Management Tools: Trello, Jira
  • Scheduling Tools: Gantt Charts, Digital calendars
  • Communication Tools: Email, Video conferencing tools

Industry-Knowledge

Some hiring managers prefer candidates with an academic background or professional experience in the field.

Communication

Effective communication is important while overseeing work. Insufficient communication costs the project and might lead to the derailing of the project, going over budget, and miss deadlines.

Organization

Coordination among teams, their timelines, meetings have to be organized in a structured way. This is crucial for the smoother delivery of a project.

Flexibility

A project manager is expected to be flexible in terms of managing contingencies. Unexpected occurrences could affect the project, but ensuring that it doesn’t delay the project is a skill.

Leadership

A leader brings the different parts together to function as a unit. Leadership includes- influencing decisions, motivating team members, and balancing the needs of the team and project.

People Skills

People Skills are important in communicating with various stakeholders and staying organized.

What Are the Different Project Management Methodologies?

Project Management Methodologies are processes and practices used by project management teams in order to successfully navigate the Project Life Cycle. The common approaches are:

  • Agile
  • Lean
  • Waterfall
  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • XP (Extreme Programming)
  • Six Sigma

Project Management methodologies have indeed evolved greatly over time, to the point where once-ubiquitous methodologies like the Waterfall have become obsolete and inapplicable.

Why is Agile Methodology Preferred the Most?

Agile is the mainstream methodology used in project management, and expands its influence into many aspects of product development, from ideation to customer experience.

Agile methodology breaks a project down into cycles, with each cycle passing through some or all of the Project Management phases. It calls for continuous collaboration between team members and stakeholders. It has regular cycles of feedback and iteration.

Why Should You Pursue a Career in Project Management?

Every company has ongoing and new projects coming up. Whether you are interested in industries such as construction, architecture, computer science, robotics, project managers are required to successfully carry out projects.

Project Management is such a versatile and diverse career that the skills you acquire are easily transferable if you choose to pivot to another role in the future.

Career Pathways in Project Management

Getting your first job as a project manager is the beginning. As you hone your skills and advance in your role, you would find new pathways to grow further.

Here is a hierarchy of project management roles:

Designation Tasks
Project coordinator Assists with administrative tasks for specific projects
Project manager I Manages small projects under the supervision of the Senior PM
Project manager II Manages one project or many smaller projects
Project manager III Manages multiple or high-priority projects
Senior project manager Leads multiple project teams or programs
Program manager Oversees a group of related projects
Portfolio manager Manages an organization’s collection of projects and programs
Director of Project Management Office Strategically plans multiple projects & reports to executive management

How Much Do Project Managers Make?

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the median project manager salary across all industries in the United States is $116,000, with industries like consulting, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage offering the most compensation.

Project Management Job Outlook in 2022

Project Management is an important function in businesses. According to a report by Project Management Institute(PMI), employers would need 87.7 million individuals in project management roles by 2027. The report also states that 71% of global organizations have a project management office to bridge this gap- which is a 15% increase from 2007. So, the job outlook is positive.

Key Takeaways

Choosing a career in Project Management could open doors in multiple industries. Keep these points in mind while looking to start a career as a Project Manager:

  • Project Management uses skills, associated knowledge, tools, and techniques to complete projects and deliver value to people
  • A Project Manager defines goals, leads teams, communicates with stakeholders, and oversees projects through completion
  • A project manager leads and guides the team through the project lifecycle, which includes- initiation, planning, execution, and finally closure
  • Hiring managers prefer candidates with relevant education and qualifications that align with the organizational needs
  • Project Management Methodologies are processes and practices used by project management teams in order to successfully navigate the Project Life Cycle
  • Agile Methodology is the most widely used Project Management Methodology
  • The Job Outlook for Project Management is positive. Project manager jobs are steadily increasing as more and more companies continue to hire professionals to lead projects

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