Project management has become a diverse and interesting field over the past several decades. Nearly every industry finds itself in need of a skilled project manager to oversee the planning and implementation of projects within their organization.
Highly trained project managers have become fixtures within modern technology, engineering, manufacturing, and construction businesses. These individuals possess skill sets that enable them to see the big picture, anticipate bottlenecks and roadblocks, and motivate a team to deliver on-time results for often demanding expectations.
So who is a project manager? What skills do they have? What benefit do they bring to an organization? Let’s explore the value of the project management professional.
Project managers are responsible for the planning, communication, and execution of a project. They are heavily involved in creating the project plan and take the lead from the beginning of a project all the way through to the end. These professionals typically aren’t involved in the actual production or task aspects of the project, rather, they guide workflow and ensure that the project has the resources it needs to be completed on time.
The role of the project manager serves to deliver the vision and request of the client. This requires consummate communication skills and familiarity with the industry that the client is working in. Combining these two attributes with strong leadership skills is what great project managers are able to do.
We should begin our discussion about project management careers by saying that this is not a field that just anyone is well suited for. Many of the skills of project management can be taught but there is an enjoyment of leadership and organization that must be present in order to be successful in the role.
Beyond that, project management is, quite frankly, a difficult task. It requires focus, attention to detail, patience, good listening habits, and a willingness to adapt at the moment. Conflict is inevitable. Change is a given. Tough deadlines are ever-present.
The good news is that despite the challenges, project management can be exceedingly rewarding. Leading a team through a project to deliver quality results for a client is impressive and not something everyone is capable of. The other plus side is that over time, the experience can give a project manager momentum making them more and more efficient and able to recognize potential roadblocks earlier in the process.
With nearly every industry imaginable in need of project managers, another plus is that there is a career opportunity for knowledgeable and driven individuals who are in a field but maybe looking for an alternative to the on the ground aspects of engineering, manufacturing, or software development.
As project management emerges in the workplace as an essential position, opportunities for education, and certifications in the field continue to grow. There is a myriad of options for online degrees that are especially well suited for the full-time working professional as well. Additionally, project management certification programs can provide a great background in the mechanics of project management principles.
At the end of the day though, the most important qualification for an industry-specific project manager is an extensive knowledge of that field. This knowledge provides a base for the manager to communicate with everyone involved – team, client, and stakeholders – about the intricacies of the project in the industry’s own language.
Project managers are the center point of a project and in many ways are directly responsible for the success or failure of a project. This is a huge responsibility and with that comes great potential for stress.
The sources of stress for a project manager are as varied as the position’s job description:
Project management certainly can be stressful but the good news is that there are resources available to help minimize stress and get back into an efficient and functional workflow.
For instance, developing great conflict resolution techniques or taking the time to prioritize the essential tasks can go a long way to refocus and destress. Another great tool is a project management software that can provide data-driven status updates and unparalleled organization. Project management software continues to improve and evolve and is capable of tracking and compartmentalizing tasks, resources, and timelines giving project managers the ability to momentarily step away from the project and come back with a fresh mind.
Due to the diverse nature of a project manager’s roles and responsibilities, these individuals need to possess equally diverse skills.
Here are just some of the skills necessary to be a successful project manager:
As mentioned before, the activities of a successful project manager are wide and varied. They are required to wear many hats in the course of a project. Here are just some of the functions that project managers will engaged in at any particular moment:
The day-to-day roles and responsibilities of a project manager are closely aligned with the key functions of their position. Their daily tasks, not to be mistaken for the tasks outlined in the project plan, support their aim of providing oversight and leadership to the team. Some of the daily responsibilities may include:
The work of a project manager is absolutely essential in the workforce today. Individuals who are highly organized and effective communicators are needed in all areas of the industry to lead teams through complex projects. The work can be stressful but also very rewarding. These individuals are a rare breed in that they possess great organization and tactical skills but are also able to motivate and inspire their teams. Find the right project manager is an asset to any team in any industry.