What is a project manager?

A project manager (PM) is the person responsible for achieving the approved project objectives/goals by leading a project through initiation, planning & organizing, resource management, execution, and closure by managing the change through time, budget and scope to the required quality expectations according to Information Systems & Technology’s (IST) project management methodology and processes. To be successful, a PM should have full responsibility and authority to complete an assigned project.

How do I define who the project manager should be?

For an IT project (taking into consideration complexity, size and impact of the project), it is important to choose a PM who:

  • Is a strong leader
  • Has the discipline to create clear, attainable project objectives and the ability to see them through to successful completion
  • Is comfortable with change and complexity in dynamic environments, and with acting as a change agent
  • Will strive to make project goals their own and use their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team
  • Has the ability and understanding to bridge the gap between the production team and the business, including a fair knowledge of the industry so they are capable of understanding and dealing with the issues, risks, obstacles, etc.
  • Has the appropriate level of authority and responsibility to be able to complete the project, including direct access to functional managers for the project team members, the sponsor, and the project governance bodies to deal with any escalations
  • Is familiar with and has had previous experience with the product life cycle for the product the project will be delivering (for example, the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC), or the service life cycle)
  • Is able to represent the business’ or organization’s interests and make decisions to benefit the project, business and organization as a whole
  • Is comfortable with ambiguity and willing to reshape the rules and processes when things change
  • Is comfortable with people and adaptable to cultures
  • Has exceptional communication skills to enable appropriate facilitation, negotiation, and stakeholder engagement
  • Has the ability to empathize with all stakeholders

What are the project manager responsibilities?

Ultimately, the PM is responsible for the success of the project.  To achieve this, the PM will:

  • Initiate the project with the charter, negotiate for project resources, and execute a project kickoff
  • Develop, execute and monitor project plan and schedule
  • Manage and lead project team in formation and motivation towards commitment and completion of tasks
  • Secure acceptance and approval of deliverables and milestones from sponsor and stakeholders
  • Cultivate trust and communication with and amongst project’s stakeholders
  • Remove obstacles for project team
  • Perform appropriate project risk management: identify, document, monitor and ensure appropriate mitigation of project risks
  • Manage expectations by aligning projects to business goals, managing stakeholders and conflicts, and communicating project status, milestones, and unexpected difficulties/issues effectively
  • Manage project constraints (time, scope, budget plus any others) and dependencies, ensuring requirements and expectations are met without unforeseen, unapproved impacts
  • Manage and forecast project costs and expenditures
  • Create and achieve, in partnership with the sponsor, clear and attainable project objectives that align with stakeholder expectations and business goals
  • Procure, manage and appropriately close vendor partnerships pertaining to the project
  • Manage project issues, ensuring they are assigned and addressed appropriately, and escalate issues that cannot be resolved within project team
  • Ensure quality standards are met
  • Create, execute and manage appropriate project communications strategy/plan
  • Establish and manage appropriate project change management process/mechanism
  • Manage project training
  • Liaise with management and governance bodies, relevant to risks, complexity and impact of project
  • Plan for and execute appropriate cutover and transition processes for the final deliverable(s)
  • Perform project closeout

What if the project manager is managing a project within a program?

If the PM is managing a project that is part of a program, in addition to the above responsibilities towards the PM's project, there are also the following:

  • Ensure the project team understands their role on the project, and how the project contributes towards the vision of the program
  • Secure acceptance and approval of deliverables and milestones related to the program
  • Communicate regular status updates to program manager
  • Escalate issues and risks to the program manager, when required
  • Create and achieve, in partnership with the sponsor and program manager, clear and attainable project objectives that align with stakeholder expectations, program vision, and program benefits
  • Ensure the project continues to align to project objectives and success criteria, as well as strategic vision of the program
  • Liaise with program manager, management, and governance bodies as required based upon risks, complexity, and impact of project