Thursday 14 April 2022

Project Manager - Qualities and competence



This article discusses the main functions, personal qualities and areas of competence of the project manager.

To date, project management has become widespread in organizations engaged in innovative technologies, construction, and investment activities. Project management is usually understood as the application of knowledge, tools and methods to the work of the project to meet the requirements for the project.

Any project has a clearly defined goal and limitations – execution time, budget and scope of work. As soon as new projects arise in the organization, the question immediately arises as to who will manage them. This person is the project manager (project manager). So what is the role of the project manager? 


What is he responsible for and how is he chosen?

The role of the project manager in the different organizational structure of project management is different. Table 1 shows the project manager's authority for different organizational structures.

A project manager is a person who, according to his job duties in the company, manages the project team and is responsible for its success, that is, for achieving the set goals. At the same time, he must work closely with the program and/ or portfolio manager in order to achieve not only the goals of his project, but also the strategic goals of the company (for example, the goals of the project portfolio). Thus, the project manager provides a link between the company's strategy and the final employees represented by the project team, which means that it becomes a necessary link in the structure of the organization. The scheme of work of the project manager is as follows:

From the scheme it can be seen that with the correct construction of the relationship between the project manager and the project team, only the control functions, the organization of interaction and risk management remain behind him.

The functions of a project manager can be divided into seven main groups:

  • Functions aimed at fulfilling the tasks of strategic management;
  • Ensuring communication between the company's management and project implementation;
  • Reproduction of the project management system;
  • Development of a project plan;
  • Organization of project execution;
  • Monitoring and analysis of the progress of the project;

Functions that are associated with the closure of the project.

In order to perform the considered tasks that are set for the project manager, it is necessary that he has such personal qualities as:

  • Responsibility. The project manager should be responsible not only for his actions, but also for the actions and results of his team, given the constant impact of external factors on the project, which he cannot manage;
  • Focus on the result. There are many obstacles that can affect the project, but the project manager should strive to achieve the desired result even in adverse conditions;
  • Leadership. The project manager should be able to lead employees, show them perspective, rally them into a single team, motivate employees for effective project execution;
  • Communicative. The project manager must have good communication skills - be able to negotiate, coordinate the conflicting interests of team members, management, the customer - all interested parties of the project;
  • High analytical skills. The project manager should have a holistic view of the picture of the work on the project, taking into account all factors that may directly or indirectly affect the implementation of the project;
  • Determination. The project manager needs to be able to make decisions quickly and take responsibility in the face of a lack of information on the project;
  • Organization and flexibility. Such qualities are associated with the need to solve many diverse tasks in a short time;
  • Ethical. The project manager is required to carry out his professional activities and build relationships with all project participants in full compliance with the ethical code of the project manager (PMI ethical standards);

High efficiency and stress resistance. Taking into account the fact that the project always has a limited time and budget, the project manager needs to constantly monitor the project, quickly solve emerging problems, resolve conflict situations.

For the successful implementation of the project, the manager must have the above personal qualities, and should he understand the subject area of the project? A lot of controversy arises on this issue and here opinions are divided. Some experienced project managers (and the PMI standard) say that it is enough to be able to analyze the interests of key participants and the features of the project environment, building trusting relationships with specialists in this field who will help him in the technical part of the project implementation. 


However, most company managers are still inclined to believe that the project manager should have knowledge in the subject area of the project and see the whole situation in a complex. The project manager must necessarily understand the general issues in the field of implementation of his project, the nuances can be assigned to competent employees. This is necessary in order to communicate with customers at the expert level, to understand the essence of the problem and the goals set for it, to competently carry out planning and control.

When a project manager is invited to the organization, first of all, they expect that he will use his knowledge and management skills to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of the organization through high-quality project execution. Here is what Ilyin V.V., who has experience in managing projects for the implementation of information systems, writes in his book:

"I am firmly convinced that anyone who undertakes to manage a project must first work in several such projects as an executor - at least in order not to step on the rake, which has long been given to the forehead of predecessors. RP, who came out of the engineers, really understand all the "pitfalls" of the project, know in practice the pros and cons of each technique and try first of all to create normal working conditions, and not a myth about how quickly and cheaply the project will be completed. "

Indeed, in modern realities, the project manager needs to know the technical side of the project and be well versed in project management. Therefore, some organizations "raise" their project managers, believing that he must go from an ordinary employee through the entire hierarchy to the leader. For example, IT companies believe that in order to become an experienced and sought-after project manager, it is necessary to go through the following stages:

  1. The first stage or obtaining the skills of a tester (QA-specialist). Allows not only to understand the essence of the issue, but also to learn how to find errors in projects. The acquired skill will allow the project manager to notice important shortcomings and trifles of the project in the early stages before they become a global problem. Communication skills also begin to develop when communicating with developers, experience in resolving conflict situations and defending one's point of view appears.
  2. The second stage or obtaining the skills of an analyst. Allows you to learn how to collect and structure requirements from the client, write technical specifications, and most importantly - with the direct participation of the project manager to gain experience in communicating with customers.
  3. The third stage or obtaining the skills of an account manager. Allows you to acquire persuasion skills, get acquainted with the sales cycle and document flow of the company, learn how to control and evaluate your own and other people's working time.
  4. The fourth stage or obtaining the skills of a deputy project manager. At this stage, the employee performs the duties of the project manager, he begins to have his own small projects, but he is still supervised by an experienced manager and helps in difficult situations.
  5. Fifth stage or project manager. The employee receives his projects, the responsibility of which is already assigned only to him and his team.

Going through all the stages of development of the project manager does not necessarily have to take an equal amount of time, the main thing is that the necessary comprehensive experience is obtained. This approach is applicable in any organization, for example, in construction companies, chief project engineers (GIPs) often become project managers:

Manager Such a scheme is considered ideal for training a project manager, because the employee first worked as a highly qualified specialist and understands the work performed by other specialists, but in addition he has experience in Management.

It is very difficult to manage the project. Often, the project team includes people who are higher in rank and have more experience than the manager. Also, people of different religions and different types of culture can be present in the team. It is very important that the manager realizes that it is always possible to establish a normal working process, the main thing is to observe ethics and choose the right approach. 


To do this, you need to combine different management styles and understand in what situation which one is applicable:

  • A directive approach, which assumes that all decisions are made by the project manager alone, and he indicates the direction and indicates to employees who and what needs to be done. This approach is justified most often in critical situations that arise in the project, in other cases it is not effective, since it does not allow employees to interact with each other;
  • The participating approach involves making decisions about the project together with the project team, this method allows you to rally the working group and get valuable ideas and results, but is not convenient for use in emergency situations;
  • The task-oriented approach is to ensure that the project manager pays maximum attention to the achievement of the project goals, coordinating the work of employees in all ways and ways to achieve them.

The project manager should align his work with the project team in such a way as to demonstrate the value of project management, strengthen the recognition of project management in the organization and the effectiveness of the project management office (PMO). Often, experienced project managers are invited to the organization to "pull" projects. 


At the same time, sharing their experience, they talk about the fact that employees of such companies have to demonstrate the workflow, since most of them do not even try to perform their job duties, and when the project deadlines expire, there is always a whole mountain of reasons and excuses why the project could not be completed. And here an important role begins to play the personal qualities of the project manager. First of all, he needs to rank the projects that have fallen on him by the degree of importance in order to get positive results for the company in the future. After that, each employee is given specific tasks and monitor the workflow of their implementation. 


There are even cases when the project manager has to constantly monitor each employee, showing how important his work is in the overall contribution of the team or perform the work for the employee himself. And here practice shows that it is necessary to attract two or three new specialists to the team, who will have a desire to work on the project, as well as to give motivation to the whole team. It does not have to be financial incentives, it is enough to hold meetings once a week to discuss the successes of each of the team members. 


Seasoned employees usually begin to resent such a situation, but then realize that they are no worse and begin to work on a par with new ones, and if their contribution remains at the original level, new specialists are invited to their place. But an important factor in which this scheme works in practice is the desire of the company's top management to support such changes, exercise proper control and achieve the set strategic goals in the organization.

The successful implementation of the project and the simultaneous achievement of the company's strategic goals are largely determined by the personality of the project manager. Its capabilities are highly dependent on the entrenched position in the organization and in the project team. There is no established opinion about what specific duties the project manager should perform, since in many respects they are determined by the type of company and the established procedures in it, but it is important to understand that he is obliged to solve all the issues of his project.

One of the most important skills for a project manager is still communication. Studies have shown that it is on them that the project manager spends from 50 to 90% of his time. With extensive experience and excellent communication skills, successful project managers can accurately identify influential people both inside and outside the company, turning them into allies. 


A deep understanding of the interests of partners, skillful influence on colleagues and subordinates help them to enlist the necessary support, as well as to obtain the consent of other stakeholders, to actively act in the right direction and achieve the goals of the project. Such managers are always valuable employees.

The role of the project manager in the work of the organization should not be underestimated, since his influence on the company's prospects is quite tangible. Thus, project execution is a strategically important discipline, and the project manager is the person ensuring its success.

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