No matter what the industry or business niche, managing projects effectively is vital to achieving business goals and objectives. Over time, project manager positions have evolved to fill this role and ensure that projects are handled correctly and achieve their desired results. What is a project manager though? What do these professionals do and is it a good fit for you? If you're considering a career in project management, understanding what the job entails is an important first step and will help ensure that you find a position that fits your personal strengths and career goals.The Four Elements
You'll find that project managers do exactly what the title suggests - they manage projects. However, it's far from being that basic. There are four core elements to any project management position, and these include managing resources, managing time, managing money and managing the scope of the project. Let's dig a bit deeper into each of these core elements and illustrate exactly what composes them.
Resources: Your resources are technically anything that helps your project achieve its goals. That includes team members, executives, stakeholders, software and other tools, materials and equipment. If it helps you move the project forward, it's a resource. You'll need to be adept at managing these diverse resources, which will require skills as disparate as communication, leadership, management, organization and collaboration.
Time: It's tempting to lump time under the heading of scope, but that's not really accurate. In terms of project management, time involves things like how long it takes to accomplish specific tasks, critical path development/completion and managing dependencies (on both other departments and team members).
Money: Money is certainly a critical component of all projects. From the overall budget to the individual costs of specific steps and components, you'll have to manage money accurately. This involves determining the profit generated and compared to the profitability goal of the project as well.
Scope: Of all four elements, scope is perhaps the most important and most all encompassing. Essentially, the scope of the project is the entire plan, from the initial planning stage to the ultimate goal/goals of the project. This also includes the budget and resources available to you.
What Is a Project Manager?
You've been given a glimpse of what a project manager has to deal with, but now it's time to dig into what a project manager actually does. Essentially, a project manager is responsible for harnessing, managing and dealing with the four core elements above and moving a project along towards its goals. Of course, this is a rather simplistic explanation, but it serves its purpose.
Moreover, you will find that the role of the manager varies considerably from one company to another. There's really no all-encompassing definition of what a project manager is or does, simply because the role can change so drastically from one organization to the next. For instance, managing a project within the aerospace industry will be very different from managing one within a retail environment or within a software development firm. Still, for all the diversity and differences, those four core elements mentioned previously will play a central role in project completion and success.
Wearing Many Hats
Like most management positions, project managers will have to wear quite a few hats. You will be both manager and monitor, as well as a project leader and motivator. You'll be a communicator, a team member and a subordinate to your supervisors. It's essential that those entering this field are capable of handling myriad responsibilities.
Who Makes an Ideal Candidate?
Finally, if you're considering entering this field, it's wise to make sure you have the qualities necessary to succeed. While getting the right training and education is vital, you have to have the right character and traits to really thrive in this environment. The ideal candidate will be naturally organized, able to communicate with a variety of different people across multiple platforms, Able to take criticism and provide leadership in equal measures, and be agile enough to adjust to constantly evolving goals.