The management of single projects requires several analytical and leadership skills in addition to proficiency in project management software. Project managers must be capable of working with a customer to develop the scope of work for the project and to prepare a WBS that captures the deliverable in an organizational chart or outline. The project manager must be familiar with the technical field and changes in technology. The manager must be able to put a team together, assigning team members to activity and task areas in the WBS, and lead the team through the project life cycle. The manager must have the capacity to use project management software to prepare Gantt charts, assign resources, estimate costs, produce reports, and make presentations on the project.
There is an active debate in the field on the extent to which the project manager must be familiar with the technology of the project and technical aspects of design, development, testing, and product delivery. Some say the manager need only have a cursory sense of the deliverable and the technology involved, relying on team members and subject matter experts for technical assistance. Others say the manager must know enough "not to be snowed" by the customer, team members, or suppliers and subcontractors. They indicate that the manager will have to interpret technical progress reports of team members and be able to communicate with technical counterparts in the customer organization. In any case, it is clear that the project manager must have a good grasp of the deliverable and be comfortable in the field, if not an expert. If the field is changing rapidly, it is especially important for the project manager to grasp the implications of change for the current project.
Single project managers must be wholly focused on the day-to-day dynamics of the project because the project environment is always changing and shifting unexpectedly. The horizon is short in project management. This requires that the project manager manage through the 80-hour rule, that is, the focus in each weekly review is the current status of projects, indicated in earned value analysis, and anticipating the next 80 hours of work. This way the team is reminded of the next two weeks'work, challenges that can be anticipated, and key milestones in that 80-hour period. The single project manager is typically wrapped up in the project at hand.
Project managers must have several key skills: the ability to lead a team and resolve team problems; the ability to communicate and report effectively to a wide variety of customers and stakeholders on technical and project issues; the ability to manage a number of technical assignments all at once; the capacity to deploy project management tools, such as Gantt charts and schedules; a full understanding of the project life cycle; and proficiency in project management software. In addition, the project manager must have judgment skills to make trade-offs between cost, schedule, and quality during the progress of the project and to make difficult decisions quickly to keep a project moving.
Finally, project managers are expected to be advocates of their projects and to make effective arguments for resources and priorities, based on their project needs and their project critical path. They are not necessarily expected to see the big picture or to make decisions on sharing resources with other project managers. They are expected to be narrowly focused on making their project goals, objectives, and deliverables regardless of what else is happening in the company. If they start compromising their focus in the context of the needs of other projects, they do a disservice to their customers and to their project team.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.