What It Takes To Be A Successful Project Manager

What does a Project Manager do?

There are many different tasks that a project manager needs to do as part of their job. In a broader sense, they are responsible for organising, planning, and directing the completion of projects for a company. They also need to make sure that the projects are completed on time, within the budget and scope. 

With the responsibility of overseeing projects, project managers can shape an organisation’s trajectory, maximise company efficiencies, help reduce costs, and increase revenue.

5 phases of the project life cycle project managers handle

There are five phases of the project life cycle, which are mainly handled by the project managers. These include:

1. Initiating

Project managers define the main objectives of a project, along with its purpose and scope. Although it is worth noting that project managers are assigned well after this first step, they still need to consider these things.

2. Planning

Once the charter is approved, the project managers create a plan to achieve the set objectives and oversee cost, scope, risk, timelines, communications, and quality issues

3. Executing

Here, the project managers assign the tasks and make sure that everything is working smoothly and are completed on schedule.

4. Monitoring and Controlling

The project manager then continues to control and monitor things like the budget, progress, performance, and other things related to the project.

5. Closing

Lastly, the project managers make sure that all necessary activities for the completion of the project are done. It may include releasing resources, getting formal sign-off, reviewing work, and archiving project files.

These are all responsibilities of a project manager. However, these are not all of them. A project manager also needs to communicate with team members and key stakeholders, identify any issues and resolve them, manage time and get any approvals, budgeting, and keep the team productive and motivated.

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Project Manager?

It is essential for you to have specific qualifications when you want to be a part of the project management world. After all, you are interviewed by the firms, and there are plenty of people competing with you.

If you want to stand out and have a better chance of getting employed, here are some of the qualifications that will put you ahead of the competition. 

  • PRINCE2 practitioner
  • CMI diploma in project management
  • APM RPP (registered project professional)
  • PMP (certified project management professional)
  • APMP/ APM PQ (practitioner qualification)

Apart from these qualifications, there are some master courses that you can complete to add on to your resume. Moreover, it can be really beneficial if you end up getting both PRINCE and APM qualifications.

Once you think you are qualified enough to be a project manager and that you will be able to compete with all the other people applying for the same job, you need to consider two of the following things as well.

  • Experience and Skills: Two of the most vital skills for any project manager are problem-solving and time management. You must also be able to make smart decisions and negotiate whenever needed. Moreover, apart from these essential skills, having some experience would also be great to give yourself a better chance at employment.
  • Salary: You also should know the average salary of a project manager is about USD$50,000 / AUD $85,000 and can often exceed USD$120,000 / AUD $ 160,000 with experience and commitment. Moreover, it also depends on the sector you work in and the company you are working for as a project manager.

Lastly, according to your qualifications, you can apply for different types of roles as a project manager. These include being a project manager, junior project manager, assistant project manager, project coordinator, business change manager, and project officer.

What Skills Do Project Managers Need?

Being a project manager demands a lot of skills. Here are some of the skills which are essential for any project manager to flourish in the business.

Project Managers excel at communication

As a project manager, you need to have strong communication skills to work closely and effectively with stakeholders. That includes team members, clients, and any other third party associated with the project. 

Project Managers are leaders

You need to have strong leadership skills to be able to oversee and coordinate tasks as well as motivating and encouraging the team to realise their full potential.

Project Managers are organized

To ensure that everything goes on smoothly, a project manager needs to keep organised. This will allow you to multitask, prioritise tasks, compartmentalise projects, and document everything.

Project Managers are always negotiating

A project manager needs to negotiate with many people, such as clients, suppliers, and other stakeholders. Hence, it is essential for a project manager to have excellent negotiation skills in order to be successful.

Project Managers are team players

A project manager is responsible for bringing the team together and moving them in one direction. The project manager also needs team management skills to delegate responsibilities, evaluate performances, handle conflicts, and coach team members to improve their skills.

Project Managers manage time and risk

Project managers always have a deadline they need to meet for the project. Hence, they need to manage time effectively. Moreover, projects inherently also have a lot of risks. A project manager must always be anticipating key project risks early, and have measures in place to mitigate them.

Project Managers are problem solvers

A project manager also needs to weigh the pros and cons of all the information gathered and then come up with the best possible solutions. With this skill, a project manager can have a structured approach to solving problems.

Project Managers keep on budget

Another essential skill that a project manager needs is cost management. They need to make sure that no costs are being overrun, and if they are, then how would they control it. They also need to track all the costs, put together spreadsheets, and decide how the budget needs to be allocated.

These were some of the essential skills that a project manager must have, although these are not all of them. Some other skills also include interpersonal skills, active listening, research skills, adaptability, conflict management, and many others.

To help you become the best project manager you can be, we’ve built a free downloadable soft skill development checklist to get you started.

Who Is The Boss Of A Project Manager?

There are different levels of management in any organisation, and it would really helps to understand the management hierarchy. The responsibilities and duties vary according to the level of management you are working at. Here are some of the standard levels of management in businesses in the United States in ascending order.

Supervisor

Being a supervisor is a first-level management job. Most people who apply for a management job without any prior experience end up being a supervisor. Usually, supervisors have significantly more experience than workers they are supposed to supervise.

Supervisors handle timekeeping, work assignments, and problem-solving. Moreover, they keep the workers motivated, take care of their training, and ensure quality. Supervisors usually don’t have any decision-making responsibilities, enjoy little discretion, and report to the manager.

Project Manager

Some people do not consider project managers to be at the management level as they don’t typically attend the management meetings. However, they often perform the duties of a manager, and in several industries, it is considered to be the first level of management.

A project manager is responsible for organising, planning, monitoring, and directing management functions at the project level. They also need to ensure everything is done according to the budget, schedule, and the quality is on point. However, they are not responsible for training or discipline. Lastly, project managers report to directors and other executive level management.

Manager

A manager can be either a first-level manager or a second-level manager, depending on whether they supervise employees or other supervisors, respectively. It usually depends on the size of the company and which level of management the manager is on.

The responsibilities and duties of a first-level manager are similar to a supervisor but have more HR responsibilities and discretion. Managers usually have one to four years of experience, and they report to senior managers, directors or other executive level management.

Senior Manager

Senior managers are usually found in bigger organisations and share similar responsibilities to managers. They are responsible for the functional and administrative direction of a group of employees and enjoy more discretion and financial authority as compared to other managers. On some rare occasions, senior managers also supervise other managers.

General Manager

As the name itself suggests, a general manager often supervises all the functions of a company by supervising the managers who are managing those specific functions. These general managers hold a lot of discretionary authority and a wide latitude. They have considerable financial authority and handle the hiring within an organisation. However, they can also delegate this authority to other subordinate managers.

How To Be A Successful Project Manager

There are some distinct qualities that will help you achieve the goal of being successful as a project manager:

Communicate effectively

Effective and clear communication is one of the vital reasons for the success of a project. Carry out regular meetings, whether they are virtual or in-person, and communicate with all your team members. Help your team find the most comfortable way for them to effectively communicate with you, as it will help them to have a productive mood. Moreover, work on bringing the customer and your team together, as it will help get better insights into the clients’ needs and maximise overall benefit to the project.

Manage workflow, not people

Hiring the right people is essential for a project manager, so that they can be relied upon to do exactly what you need them to with minimal intervention on your part. Recruiting capable people gives you time to focus on the important stuff, like creating a smooth workflow, managing risks, and leading the project overall. 

Make data-driven decisions

A project manager needs to make several decisions during the entirety of a project, and the only way to make effective decisions is by having data behind your actions. Cycle time scatter plots and cumulative flow diagrams help increase productivity, optimise the value stream of the business, and identify areas for improvement. By making data-driven decisions, you can significantly improve project outcomes.

Now you’re on your way to becoming a successful project manager! Don’t forget to get our free downloadable Project Manager Soft Skills Development Checklist to get you started on your journey to being the best project manager! If you want to learn more about project management, be sure to head to our blog.

Bill Allars

Bill Allars

Bill is a Business Development Manager with 20+ of experience in Project and Portfolio Management, Project Administration, Risk Management and Process Redevelopment.

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