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6 Common Responsibilities of a Project Manager

July 10, 2020 in Projects 101

In most projects, a project manager’s role can be broken into several pillars. These pillars can be defined by 6 common responsibilities, each of which are outlined below.

Managing stakeholders

Who are the decision makers in your project? Are they at the table, are they aware of the project goals, and is their input being sufficiently captured throughout the project? It is important to ask these questions before a project gets too far, in order to avoid having to redo work. Often times, the client liaison involved in the day-to-day project decisions does not have final sign-off on deliverables. For this reason, it is vital to establish who has sign-off authority, and to ensure they are briefed at every step.  

Tip – Hold a kickoff meeting. Make sure that all stakeholders are present on Day 1 by hosting a kickoff meeting with everybody present. This will help to avoid miscommunication by unifying the project plan and goals across the board.

Managing communication

Communication is key to a project’s success – no exceptions. A project manager must always ensure that all steps of a project, including tasks, to-do lists, key dates and more, are recorded, shared and kept up to date.

Tip – Schedule stand-up meetings. These regular calls or meetings help ensure that everybody is in-the-know, and that a project

Tip – Centralize all communication. To avoid duplicate questions, long email chains, or missed cc’s, make sure to centralize your communication online. Online channels include Slack, TaskBranch or another project management platform.

Managing schedule

Project schedules can sometimes be difficult to keep on track. This becomes especially so the more people and moving parts there are. That’s why a central schedule or calendar that plots out deliverables, key dates and people responsible is necessary.

Tip – Start with a strong workback schedule, which breaks out all steps and deliverables of the project into a week-by-week view. Make sure to build in extra margin to accommodate unexpected events or delays.

Managing budget

For most projects, budget goes hand in hand with schedule. Aside from keeping a project on schedule, though, a project budget can best be kept in line by proper planning. If there are third-party vendors involved, make sure they are looped in to assess and price a full scope before kickoff. If there are internal teams involved, make sure they are aware of timelines and deliverables. And, as always, plan for a contingency budget so that you’re prepared if things slide off schedule or budget.

Tip – When hiring vendors, try to secure a Fixed Bid agreement, if possible. Fixed Bid, unlike Time & Material, means you agree and pay for the delivery of a specified scope. Time & Material can easily go over-budget without constant oversight.

Managing conflicts

A conflict, in this context, refers to either workloads or deliverables that overlap or do not fit together. For example, if there are two designers, then a conflict may arise if both designers are under the impression they are responsible for a particular deliverable.

Conflicts can best be avoided by proper planning. At the beginning of a project, it is important to have an open schedule, an open team structure, and open lines of communication. Together, these ensure that each team member is aware of their own duties in relation to others.

Managing delivery

Sometimes this is easy…and sometimes it is not. There are times when, upon final delivery, a client will request changes. How deep a problem this is depends on the type of project and complexity of deliverable, however, often times these changes take a project out of scope.

It is important, as a project manager, to manage expectations at all times, keep clients engaged throughout the project, and secure written approvals at each milestone. Then, if a client still requests changes upon delivery, they are aware that these changes may incur extra costs. Though costs aside, delivery is an important transition period for both sides, and one that plays a key role in determining the success of a project.

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