What are the role and responsibilities of a Project Manager?
Like a conductor in an orchestra, a project manager makes sure everything is planned, executed, and closed properly. This person is a bridge between the team and the stakeholders. The scope of responsibilities includes project team, resource allocation, and business outcome. Setting goals, choosing the right methodology, progress control, and adjusting to change are among the main functions a PM performs. There is a huge variety of projects in IT - from the web and mobile app development to network configuration and security. Information technologies are virtually in all spheres - manufacturing, entertainment, healthcare, education, etc., which adds complexity to software project management as it often requires obtaining industry-specific knowledge. In this article, we will give an overview of IT PM roles and challenges.
From any angle, the position is very demanding – a PM is a real universal soldier. Let's dwell upon the cornerstones of project management that are critical for achieving the desired business outcomes.
Risk awareness and prevention strategy
A PM must be a visionary in a sense. Risk management is the ability to predict what can potentially go wrong, even design the worst-case scenarios together with the client, and prepare a strategy to mitigate risks. It requires the knowledge of special techniques and tools, such as Route Cause Analysis, SWAT, Risk Assessment Template for IT, Probability and Impact Matrix, etc. Once the initial analysis is done, it will be much easier to control all risk factors daily.
Budget management is making and adhering to a viable budget on a schedule. A PM must be aware of every dollar spent and treat clients' money as his own. The main goal is always to reach maximum results with minimum resources, and sometimes you need to identify and cut the unnecessary project scope to accomplish this. A PM makes all the calculations, describes spending options, and persuades the client the budget is justified.
Knowledge of project management methodologies, tools, e.g., Agile, Scrum, and the right application of those that will work out the best for each project plays a vital role in creating the product on time. Rigidity rarely works out, especially in software development. Flexibility and constant constructive communication with the client and the team is always a winning approach. PM experience, including working with teams of different sizes, projects of varying scope and complexity, also matters for effective time management.
Monitoring and Evaluation
It is a continuous process of realistically assessing progress against set goals and timeframes and taking improvement steps. Changes to the initial plan are almost imminent, and regular re-estimation and reviews with the client help to adjust. A PM makes sure the team is aware of the value of tracking progress as it creates clarity so necessary to develop the product successfully.
Interacting with people is one of the trickiest things in project management and consists of many aspects. Communication skills, especially active listening, deep empathy, knowledge of human psychology, stress resistance, and diplomacy, help resolve conflicts, especially in new or virtual teams lacking integrity.
Leadership is not only about giving direction to the team but also mentoring and motivating. It is perfect if a PM has broad, rather than deep, technical expertise and the desire to share it - team members appreciate the possibility to get advice. The ability to delegate and trust is also crucial, as micromanagement often creates a lot of stress and kills team motivation.
Software project management is sophisticated and is often a great test of stamina - only the strongest survive. Here are some of the common challenges that any PM faces in their career:
- 1. Multitasking. As a PM deals with numerous aspects - from human resources to finances, many things need to be monitored on a daily basis - simultaneously.
- 2. Changes. Sometimes, clients change their initial requirements, and it may cause a lot of stress to the team. Being able to quickly adapt to changes and help team members to do so is an essential skill.
- 3. Virtual teams. In the times of Covid-19 epidemic, it has become a reality for many companies, and will most likely remain a steady trend in the near future. Establishing effective communication is extra challenging in these conditions, so a PM that can set rules and organize it properly is invaluable.
- 4. Transparency. It is important both for stakeholders and the development team to know what is happening, how, and why. The better the processes are, the easier it is to achieve this goal.
- 5. Deadlines. Meeting unrealistic deadlines is a nerve-racking experience. Well-thought-out initial planning is critical for preventing this situation. It is hard to do without experience as correct time estimates are a matter of practice.
Software PM Certification
Is certification necessary? Apparently, it is not a must if the PM has enough experience and several successfully completed projects, but, at the same time, it is a step towards recognition and higher trustworthiness. Here are some reputable courses and certificates with different levels of commitment one takes to advance professional goals.
- The Project Management Professional and PMI Agile Certified Practitioner from the US-based Project Management Institute.
- Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) – Agile Project Management Certification from Scrum Alliance
- Project management: The Basics for Success from Coursera
- Agile Scrum Mastery: Full Project Simulation + Certification from Udemy
- MSc in Technology Management from L'viv Business School, Ukraine
Summary: Why should I hire a PM?
A competent project manager is a guarantee of minimal risks of project delays or failure. Is it possible for an experienced team to work without a PM? Of course, but just for a while. A team must have someone to knit them together, coordinate, assess and improve performance, analyze mistakes, and many other things that are outside a practitioner's responsibilities. The PM's can-do attitude and prudence are often critical for project success.
If you are interested in outsourcing software development, you can opt for one of the popular models - a dedicated team, which comes with an experienced PM, or the outstaffing model - if you would like your own PM to control the whole development process. At Blackthorn Vision, project management is based on more than a decade of best practices, client-focused culture, the most advanced tools available on the market, and devoted professionals available 24/7 to address any issues. For us, it is about excellent organization, people skills and motivating the team for top performance.
You have a project - and we know the shortest way to its implementation.