Are the Project Managers important for projects?
When working in an IT company with software solutions, one of the biggest questions is if there is a need for a Project Manager that will interact between the clients and teams. Project managers do not deliver software solutions, they are not coding, and they are not part of the technical side of the project, but for sure, they are one of the key roles in each project.
Even if you have the best technical team, the project won’t be successful without following processes and methodologies that are mostly presented and managed by the project managers. Being organized is one of the most important things not only when working but also in every aspect of our lives. The Project Manager is the connection point that will organize the team, gather information, motivate, and lead is something that every project needs.
Project management responsibilities in Project phases
The Project Managers are responsible for managing the full software development lifecycle, working with engineers and designers to prioritize, plan, and deliver a software solution that exceeds the client’s expectations.
Responsibilities for the Project Manager are divided into 5 phases according to the official PMP certification methodology:
- Monitoring and Controlling
Responsibilities for each phase
The initiating project management process has the tasks and steps that are needed to define and formally authorize a new project, or a major new phase of an existing project. It also ensures that project selection aligns with the overall organizational strategy. Typically, there are two critical outputs of this process: the project charter and the stakeholder register.
The project manager takes the role in the following aspects of the initiation phase:
- Participate in the project assessment based upon available information, go through the lessons learned from previous projects, and meetings with relevant stakeholders (usually in the phase of preparing the solution specification).
- Review of the key deliverables defined by the Senior software engineer based on the business requirements in order to manage customer expectations and direct the achievement of project goals (usually in the phase of preparing the project).
- Obtain project charter approval from the stakeholders in order to formalize the authority assigned to the project manager and gain commitment and acceptance for the project (usually at the beginning of the project).
- In case the client is not sure of the scope of the tasks in the project, the PM should create an Understanding document, where the delivery team will provide inputs and specify the scope and outcome of each task. In case of any external dependencies, they will be listed in the document as well. The PM should obtain written approval (signed document or confirmation via email) from the Client for the content of the Understanding Document.
The planning is the second phase in the project life cycle which helps the Project manager to prepare the needed plans for the execution phase, acceptance phase, and closure. The Project Manager is responsible for:
- Participate in reviewing and assessing detailed project requirements, constraints, and assumptions with stakeholders together with the lead software engineer based on the project charter and lessons learned, and assist the lead software engineer in establishing detailed project deliverables, which will be added to the task management tool.
- Review the proposed scope management plan from the lead software engineer based on the approved project scope and use scope management techniques.
- Conduct kick-off meetings, communicating the start of the project, key milestones, project procedures, and other relevant information in order to inform and engage the client and gain commitment.
After all the paperwork is done, in this phase, the project manager executes the project in order to achieve the project objectives. When it comes to execution, each member of the team carries out their own assignments within the given deadline for each activity. The detailed project schedule will be used for tracking the project’s progress. During the project execution, there are many reporting activities to be done. During the project execution, it is a must to track the effort and cost of the project in order to determine whether the project is progressing in the right direction or not.
In the execution phase, the Project Manager is responsible for the following assignments:
- Acquire and manage project resources and procurement management plans in order to meet project requirements.
- Create a proper Backlog based on project requirements using the Agile Process and tools specified in the Planning phase.
- Implement the quality management plan using the appropriate tools and techniques in order to ensure that work is performed in accordance with required quality standards.
- Manage the flow of information by following the communications plan in order to keep the client and managers informed on time.
- Maintain stakeholder relationships by following the project management procedures in order to receive continued support and manage expectations.
Monitoring and Controlling
This phase keeps the project on track, and the Project Management performs the following key activities:
- Measure project performance using appropriate procedures (status progress, task progress in relation to the provided estimates, day-to-day meetings with the team, ad hoc meetings with the stakeholders, and the clients) in order to identify and quantify any variances, and corrective actions.
- Manage changes to the project by following the change management plan and the change management procedures in order to ensure that project goals remain aligned with business needs.
- Inform and escalate to the Account Manager and the Chief Operations Manager whenever there is a greater change request received by the client that will impact the execution flow of the project.
- Verify that project deliverables conform to the quality standards established in the quality management plan by using appropriate tools and techniques to meet project requirements and business needs.
Key elements typically created during the closing process include:
- Final service
- Final report
- Acceptance Certificate
This process group should also include documentation and any other project assets that address the early termination or suspension of a project:
- Prepare and share the final project report according to the communications management plan in order to document and convey project performance.
- Organize Lessons learned sessions and document the risk assessment findings out of the meetings.
- Close the project by obtaining final acceptance of the project deliverables from the client in order to confirm that the project scope and deliverables were achieved.
Project Manager Qualifications & Skills
By now, we have talked about the Project Management responsibilities in the project management phases, but in order to achieve the goals, it is very important to have a skilled Project Manager. So let’s take a look at the required skills of the project manager:
- Active listening
- Change management techniques
- Communication channels
- Project Management Tools such as Asana, GitLab, Slack
- Conflict resolution
- Customer satisfaction metrics
- Decision making
- Emotional intelligence
- Negotiating and influencing techniques and skills
- Quality assurance and control techniques
- Risk assessment techniques
- Virtual/remote team management
In conclusion, Project Managers play a crucial role in ensuring the success of any project, particularly in the IT industry. Their ability to organize the team, gather relevant information, motivate and lead the team towards the achievement of project goals is essential. Without Project Managers, projects are likely to be chaotic, with no clear direction or timelines, leading to poor results. Thus, having a Project Manager on any IT project is important, and their contributions should not be underestimated.