30 June, 2021
We may not have always called them “project managers,” but since the building of the pyramids, someone had to do the planning, budgeting and delegating responsibilities that laid the groundwork for the career. In recent years, project management has become a distinct profession in which many find success. New positions are emerging so fast, the Project Management Institute found that job growth exceeded earlier projections for 2020 by 2017. Whether you’re beginning your research into a possible career change or gearing up for a new position, it’s important to have a basic understanding of this fast-growing occupation.
What Does a Project Manager Do?
As the name suggests, project managers are in charge of projects from initiation to close, making sure the work gets done efficiently and satisfactorily. As team leaders with day-to-day schedules that are constantly changing, a static project manager job description would be hard to come by. Days can be filled with planning the project process, creating a budget, managing a team or communicating with clients.
Project managers span across a wide range of industries from engineering to financial services. Every company wants to keep costs down without lowering standards, and project managers help make this possible.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Project Manager?
Though there are variations to project management positions across industry lines, the general project manager duties stay the same. Those responsibilities include:
Plan and Develop the Project Idea
Every project starts as an idea. It’s a project manager’s job to work with internal stakeholders and external clients to define that concept and create a process to bring it to fruition. This includes setting and managing client expectations, developing a detailed project plan, defining the scope of the project and assigning team members to specific tasks.
Create and Lead Your Dream Team
Project managers are accountable for every aspect of the project, including leading a team capable of meeting or exceeding client expectations for their vision. Successful project managers assemble and manage these individuals to make a fine-tuned project machine. If the team needs guidance, training or coaching, it’s a project manager’s responsibility to set them up for success.
In order to build and maintain a dynamic team mentality, a project manager must be able to keep open and honest communication, form working relationships and motivate anyone who needs it.
Monitor Project Progress and Set Deadlines
Organization and follow-through are a big part of a project manager’s job. From creating an accurate timeline of project completion to ensuring tasks are finished within the confines of the assignment, the project manager must remain aware of how the project is progressing.
The project manager also anticipates delays that may occur on the client side and apprises the team of any changes in the client’s needs.
Solve Issues That Arise
During every project, issues arise that need to be solved. The project manager is the first person who clients and team members turn to when something goes wrong, so it is in these professionals’ best interest to anticipate any potential hiccups before they happen. Adaptability and problem solving are key to keeping control of a project.
One issue that project managers need to have a plan for is change or expansion in a project’s deliverables throughout a project, also known as scope creep. This usually occurs when the scope of a project wasn’t properly defined from the start, and it can seriously affect the timeline and budget.
Manage the Money
Budget management is another primary project manager duty. These professionals make sure that the project gets done without excessive spending. A good project manager has mastered the art of cost efficiency.
Project managers also must be transparent and realistic about the cost so clients are aware from the beginning how much they are likely to spend.
Ensure Stakeholder Satisfaction
Project managers have the closest relationship with clients of anyone who works on a project. Because of this, it is important that they keep open lines of communication for updates and feedback. If any issues or changes arise in the timeline of a project, for example, the project manager is in charge of keeping the client up to date.
Evaluate Project Performance
After a project is finished, the project manager is responsible for evaluating its efficiency and effectiveness. With the data they’ve tracked throughout the process, they can begin to identify shortcomings and plan for ways to fix similar issues in the future. This is also an opportunity to highlight what went right, including building camaraderie and rewarding team members who excelled during the project.
Project Manager Skills
Because project manager responsibilities are abundant, a broad range of skills is helpful in propelling them through the process, including:
- Budget Management
- Clear Communication
- Problem Solving
- Strategic Thinking
- Stress Management
How to Become a Project Manager
If you’ve been pondering how to get your start in the project management field, begin by doing your research. Read first-hand accounts of project managers’ experiences, reach out to practicing project managers and seek training. Many of a project manager’s tools are learned, so finding a mentor or training program that equips you with the skills necessary to succeed is key.
Consider getting certified. A Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification can better your chances for career opportunities and growth, and it also gives you a chance to train alongside qualified professionals. Employers worldwide consider PMP® certification as an industry standard.
The project management field is continually growing with the Project Management Institute predicting 2.2 million new project-oriented jobs each year through 2027. It’s a career for problem solvers and collaborators who enjoy variety in their work. Though high expectations can make this role stressful, project managers are a vital part of many industries, and the work can be extremely rewarding.
Purdue University’s Online Project Management Series
Professionals who participate in Purdue University’s online project management series can gain a wealth of field knowledge, solid foundational skills, and exceedingly effective preparation for the PMP exam in order to obtain a project management certificate. Course materials and activities align closely with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) to help students retain project management knowledge and apply it to their current projects.
Project Management Essentials
This 100% online, instructor-led course runs for eight weeks and allows working professionals to gain familiarity with basic project management concepts and terms. Students are empowered to begin effectively applying their newly acquired knowledge and skills to current projects and earn project management hours that can help qualify them to take the PMP exam. Experienced PME instructors engage students in a stimulating range of learning activities including directed study of the PMBOK® Guide; participation in online threaded discussion forums; viewing recorded lecture videos; taking quizzes and self-tests; and completing written assignments. They also participate in online discussions and welcome the opportunity to coach interested students on an individual basis via email or scheduled phone appointment.
PMP Exam Preparation
This 100% online, self-study course is for project managers with a minimum of three years’ experience and assumes prior knowledge of the PMBOK® Guide. It includes four live webinars presented by an instructor for in-depth review of some of the most challenging learning material. PMI’s 180-question, multiple-choice PMP exam is demanding, and students must engage in independent study following the course to pass the PMP exam.
To learn more about Purdue University’s online Project Management courses and , fill out this form. You can also email us at PMonline@purdue.edu or call us at (888) 390-0499 to speak to one of our program advisors.
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