A project manager is a professional responsible for planning, executing and closing projects, ensuring they are completed on time, within scope and on budget. They oversee all aspects of a project, from initiation to completion, while managing resources and communicating with stakeholders. Their role is pivotal in coordinating teams, addressing risks and ensuring project objectives are met.

In many organizations, the role of a project manager is essential, especially in industries like IT, construction, healthcare and finance, among others. They are the bridge between the project team and stakeholders, ensuring that both sides are aligned and working towards the common goal of successful project completion.

What does a project manager do?

Consider a real-world example involving the development of a new software application. A tech company wants to develop a new mobile application to help users manage their personal finances.

Without a project manager, the development team begins work without a clear understanding of the user’s needs. There’s no established timeline, so some tasks take longer than necessary while others are rushed. Different teams (design, development, testing) work in isolation, leading to miscommunications and features that don’t integrate well. Budget overruns occur as no one is monitoring overall project costs.

After months of work, the application is launched, but it’s full of bugs and doesn’t meet user expectations.

With an effective project manager, the new application has a different outcome:

  • The project manager starts by gathering requirements from stakeholders. They establish a clear scope for the app, its features, and its intended audience. The project manager assigns roles and responsibilities, ensuring the right people are working on tasks suited to their skills.
  • The project manager creates a detailed schedule, breaking the project down into milestones. Regular check-ins ensure that the project stays on track.
  • A budget is set for the project, tracking expenses to ensure the project doesn’t go over cost.
  • Potential risks, like changes in technology or shifts in market demand, are identified early. The project manager develops strategies to mitigate these risks.
  • The project manager ensures that all teams communicate effectively. Regular meetings are held to update stakeholders and resolve issues.
  • Testing phases are scheduled to ensure the app is bug-free and meets quality standards.
  • Once the app is launched, the project manager organizes a post-project review to discuss what went well and what could be improved.

The mobile application is developed on time, within budget and meets both company and user expectations. It’s received well in the market, leading to increased reputability. Resources are utilized optimally, ensuring no wastage and staying within budget.

In this example, the project manager played a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the project, emphasizing how vital this position can be to a company’s success.

What are the qualities of an effective project manager?

An effective project manager possesses a blend of technical, interpersonal and leadership qualities.

They possess strong communication and organizational skills, enabling clear information flow among team members and stakeholders. They demonstrate leadership by guiding and motivating their team towards project goals, coupled with exceptional problem-solving and decision-making abilities. Adaptability and continuous learning are key qualities for project managers, allowing them to navigate changes and unforeseen challenges. Additionally, they maintain a keen focus on the needs of the client, ensuring projects are delivered on time and within budget.

Here are some other key project manager skills:

  • Risk management: Ability to foresee potential risks and proactively address them before they become critical issues.
  • Negotiation skills: Ability to negotiate resources, budgets and timelines with stakeholders and vendors, aiming for win-win scenarios.
  • Technical proficiency: Understanding the technical aspects of the project to communicate effectively with technical teams and make informed decisions.
  • Conflict resolution: Skill in resolving disputes, disagreements and other project challenges in a constructive manner.
  • Team building: Creating a cohesive team environment where members are motivated, engaged, and work collaboratively.
  • Budgeting and financial acumen: Monitoring project costs and ensuring they remain within the budget.
  • Ethical judgment: Adhering to a code of ethics, ensuring transparency and maintaining integrity in all decisions and actions.

An effective project manager often combines these qualities with experience, intuition and knowledge to navigate the complexities of projects and lead them to successful completion.

What are the tips for improving your skills as a project manager?

Improving your skills is crucial to delivering successful projects. Here are some tips for project managers to help upgrade skills:

  • Stay updated with the latest trends, standards and innovations in project management tools. Take advantage of training courses, certifications and resources to enhance your knowledge and skills.
  • Learn about different project management methodologies and frameworks to find the best fit for your projects.
  • Ask for feedback from your team members, stakeholders and clients to identify areas for improvement. Actively listen to their suggestions and implement changes accordingly.
  • Familiarize yourself with project management tools and software that can streamline your workflow and improve efficiency. Stay updated with the latest tools and technologies in the field.

Improving your skills as a project manager is an ongoing process. Continuously seek opportunities for growth, learn from experiences and adapt to new challenges.

Learn more about project management at UCW

Students in University Canada West’s Master of Business Administration program learn about project management during their studies and can take the Project Management Elective Area to further increase their knowledge in this area. The ACBSP and NCMA-accredited Master of Business Administration program will prepare students for success on a global level. They will learn how to take challenging situations in a stride, apply pragmatic solutions to problems and ultimately drive the success of their organization through intelligent decision-making.

For more information, visit our MBA page.

Published on August 18, 2023.
Last updated October 16, 2023.