What Is and Does a Successful Project Manager?
A successful project manager is a professional who perfectly organizes, plans, and executes projects while working within restraints like budgets and schedules. Project managers lead entire teams, define project goals, communicate with stakeholders, and see a project through to its closure. Whether running a marketing campaign, constructing a building, developing a computer system, or launching a new product, the project manager is responsible for the success or failure of the project.
In this article, we will explore what a project manager does, what skills and qualifications are needed to become one, what are the benefits and challenges of this career, and how you can get started on your project management journey.
What does a project manager do?
A project is typically divided into five different phases: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closure. Throughout the project lifecycle, the project manager is responsible for:
- Defining the scope of the project
- Staying on schedule
- Planning a project’s cost and sticking to a budget
- Managing project resources (including teams and workers)
- Documenting the progress of the project
- Communicating with stakeholders
- Assessing risks
- Leading quality assurance
The sheer variety of tasks means no two days on the job (or two projects) are quite the same. On any given day, you might be interviewing and hiring new talent, managing team meetings, reallocating resources to cover an unexpected expense, or updating stakeholders on the progress of the project.
What skills do you need to be a project manager?
Project management can be a challenging career, but you’ll never face those challenges alone. You’ll need to have a diverse skill set that allows you to approach each assignment in a unique and strategic way. Most importantly, you’ll need to understand how to leverage your project management skills to foster an organization’s ability to learn, succeed, and evolve with a project.
Some of the essential skills for project management are:
- Leadership and effective communication: You’ll need to lead and communicate with your teams as well as stakeholders throughout the entire lifecycle of a project. You’ll also need to motivate and inspire your team members, resolve conflicts, delegate tasks, and provide feedback.
- Organization and time management: You’ll need to handle the organization and delegation of tasks. You’ll also need to ensure that all project materials and deliverables are completed on time and within budget.
- Creative problem solving and adaptability: You’ll need to analyze and evaluate a situation critically and find solutions that work for everyone involved. You’ll also need to adapt your projects creatively to avoid mishaps and losses.
- A sense of humor: You’ll need to approach a project with a positive attitude that can ease stress and energize your team.
What qualifications do you need to be a project manager?
There is no one-size-fits-all path to becoming a project manager. Some project managers have formal education in project management or related fields, while others learn on the job or through personal projects. However, there are some common steps that can help you prepare for this career:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in project management or a related field such as business administration, engineering, or computer science.
- Gain some work experience in managing projects or working as part of a project team.
- Earn a certification in project management such as the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) or the Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI).
- Keep learning new skills and techniques through online courses, workshops, seminars, books, podcasts, etc.
- Build your network and portfolio by joining professional associations, attending events, volunteering for projects, etc.
What are the benefits of being a project manager?
Project management is a rewarding career that offers many benefits such as:
- Variety and challenge: You’ll get to work on different types of projects across various industries and sectors. You’ll also face new challenges and opportunities every day that will keep you engaged and motivated.
- Growth and development: You’ll get to learn new skills and knowledge constantly as you manage different projects. You’ll also get to advance your career by taking on more complex and impactful projects.
- Satisfaction and recognition: You’ll get to see your projects come to life from ideation to completion. You’ll also get to enjoy the satisfaction of delivering successful outcomes for your clients and stakeholders.
- Influence and impact: You’ll get to make a difference in the world by creating products, services, or processes that improve people’s lives or solve problems.
What are the challenges of being a project manager?
Project management is not without its challenges such as:
- Stress and pressure: You’ll have to deal with tight deadlines, budget constraints, changing requirements, unexpected issues, etc. You’ll also have to balance multiple tasks and responsibilities at once.
- Conflict and uncertainty: You’ll have to manage different expectations and opinions from your team members, clients, stakeholders, etc. You’ll also have to cope with ambiguity and risk in your projects.
- Responsibility and accountability: You’ll have to take ownership of your projects and their outcomes. You’ll also have to answer for any mistakes or failures that may occur along the way.
How can you get started as a project manager?
If you’re interested in becoming a project manager, here are some tips to help you get started:
- Do your research: Learn more about what project management entails by reading articles like this one or browsing online resources such as PMI’s website or Coursera’s blog.
- Talk to other project managers: Reach out to people who work as project managers or have experience in managing projects. Ask them about their career path, their daily tasks, their challenges, their advice, etc.
- Take an online course: Enroll in an online course that teaches you the basics of project management such as Coursera’s Google Project Management: Professional Certificate or PMI’s Project Management Basics: An Official PMI Online Course.
- Start small: Look for opportunities to manage small-scale projects in your current job or personal life. For example, you could organize an event for your company or community group or plan a trip for your family or friends.
- Showcase your work: Create a portfolio that showcases your projects and their results. Include details such as the scope of the project, the timeline of the project lifecycle phases, the budget of the project, the resources used, the challenges faced, the solutions implemented, the feedback received, etc.
A successful project manager is someone who can plan, execute, and complete projects while working within restraints like budgets, schedules, and quality standards. A successful project manager also has strong leadership, communication, organization, problem-solving, and motivational skills. He can work on different types of projects across various industries. He can enjoy many benefits such as variety, challenge, growth, satisfaction, influence, and impact.
A successful project manager can also overcome many challenges such as stress, pressure, conflict, uncertainty, responsibility, and accountability. They can start their career by doing their research, talking to other project managers, taking an online course, starting small, and showcasing their work.
If you’re interested in becoming a successful project manager, why not take action today?