The Essential Functions of a Project Manager
A project manager (PM) is a facilitator. The ideal project manager does whatever it takes to ensure that the members of the project team can do their work. This means working with management to ensure they provide the resources and support required as well as dealing with team issues that are negatively impacting a team's productivity. The project manager must possess a combination of skills including the ability to ask penetrating questions, identify unstated assumptions, and resolve personnel conflicts along with more systematic management skills. This person is responsible for initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing a project. The actions of a project manager should be almost unnoticeable and when a project is moving along smoothly people are sometimes tempted to question the need for a project manager. However, when you take the skilled project manager out of the mix, the project is much more likely to miss deadlines and exceed budgets. The project manager is the one who is responsible for making decisions in such a way that risk is controlled and uncertainty minimized. Every decision made by the project manager should ideally be directly benefit the project. A successful PM must simultaneously manage the four basic elements of a project: resources (people, equipment, material), time (task duration, dependencies, critical path), money (costs, contingencies, profits), and most importantly, scope (project size, goals, profit). All these elements are interrelated. Each must be managed effectively. All must be managed together if the project, and the project manager, is to be a success. The Scope element of a project is the most important and it is the first and last task for a successful project manager. First and foremost you have to manage the project scope. The project scope is the definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish and the budget (of time and money) that has been created to achieve these objectives. It is absolutely imperative that any change to the scope of the project have a matching change in budget, either time or resources. If the project scope is to build a building to house three widgets with a budget of $100,000 the project manager is expected to do that. However, if the scope is changed to a building for four widgets, the project manager must obtain an appropriate change in budgeted resources. If the budget is not adjusted, the smart project manager will avoid the change in scope. Usually, scope changes occur in the form of "scope creep". Scope creep is the piling up of small changes that by themselves are manageable, but in aggregate are significant. It is necessary to make sure any requested change, no matter how small, is accompanied by approval for a change in budget or schedule or both. A PM cannot effectively manage the resources, time and money in a project unless you actively manage the project scope. When the project scope is clearly identified and associated to the timeline and budget, the PM can begin to manage the project resources. These include the people, equipment, and material needed to complete the project. A successful PM must effectively manage the Resources assigned to the project. This includes the labor hours of the designers, the builders, the testers and the inspectors on the project team. It also includes managing any labor subcontracts. However, managing project resources frequently involves more than people management. The project manager must also manage the equipment used for the project and the material needed by the people and equipment assigned to the project. Managing the people resources means having the right people, with the right skills and the proper tools, in the right quantity at the right time. It also means ensuring that they know what needs to be done, when, and how. And it means motivating them to take ownership in the project too. Managing direct employees normally means managing...
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