The Project Manager Role

The Project Manager RoleThe Project Manager Role

The Project Manager manages a project on a day-to-day basis and is the only one with this day-to-day focus on the project and this role can never be shared. The Project Manager runs the project on behalf of the Project Board within specified constraints, and liaises throughout the project with the Project Board and Project Assurance.

The Project Manager usually comes from the customer.

They are responsible for all of the PRINCE2 processes except for the “Directing a Project” process and one activity in the “Starting Up a Project” process, which is the Appointing the Executive and Project Manager.

The Project Manager is responsible for the Project Support and Team Managers. In smaller projects where there are no Team Managers, the Project Manager will manage the Team Members directly, and where there is no Project Support, the support tasks fall on the Project Manager.

What kind of skills do you think a Project Manager should have?

A Project Manager must have a number of skills and should find ways to develop them. They should include good communication, cost management, an ability to understand the quality process, process change requests, document user needs, monitor the project, as well as planning, leadership and team-building qualities, including teamwork, problem-solving, reporting, facilitating meetings and conducting workshops. Another important task is the ability to anticipate problems and to be proactive in solving them. In other words, a good

Project Manager does not sit around and wait for things to happen.

Team Manager & Project Support

Team Manager Role

The role of the Team Manager is optional and is usually used:

  • If the project is quite large and there are many team members
  • If there is a need for specialized skills or knowledge of the products to be produced (e.g., to run a Java development team, research on a specific product, …)
  • For geographic reasons, where some team members are situated at another site, so you work with a team manager at the remote sites
  • If you are using an external company and it easier and more efficient to coordinate with a Team Manager rather than all the team members directly.

The Team Manager has the responsibility to produce the products that were assigned in Work Packages by the Project Manager and to provide regular status reports to the Project Manager.
The Team Manager can then create their own Team Plans to manage the development of the assigned products.
In some cases the Team Manager may be higher in an organization than the Project Manager, but in the context of a project, the Team Manager reports to and takes direction from the

Project Manager
A common question is: What happens when the person in the supplier company is also a Project Manager? Does this mean that the project will have two Project Managers? PRINCE2 says there is one Project Manager so that the Project Manager who works for the supplier can still have the job title of Project Manager on their business card, but as far as this project is concerned, they are a Team Manager.

Project Support and centre of excellence

The Project Support Role provides the following services to the project:

  • Administrative services, advice or guidance on the use of project management tools or Configuration Management
  • Can also supply planning or risk management services

The typical responsibility for Project Support is Configuration Management and therefore follows the guidelines in the Configuration Management Strategy document. This is one of four strategy documents created at the start of the project.

The responsibility of Project Support is with the Project Manager. This role is not optional so it needs to be assigned to a person or persons. Bigger Organizations might have a Project Office (also referred to a Project Support Office) that provides these services for a number of projects. If there is no Project Support office, then the Project Manager must assign to another person, share the role with others or take on the role themselves.

This could also be a role for a junior Project Manager, as they would learn a lot about project management from doing this role.
Tip: This is a good role for the Project Manager to get assistance with, as this role needs to be done correctly to support the project. If the Project Manager cannot get assistance, then they must not make the common mistake of trying to do this in their spare time but must plan to carry out the required tasks during normal work hours.

Centre of excellence

This is the name given to a group of persons who can provide the follow services to a number of projects in an organization,

  • A central filing system for al projects & a configuration management system
  • Expertise on project management techniques : E.g. Estimating, Risk Analysis
  • Advice on all project areas, Quality, Risk, Planning, …

A centre of excellence could provide both Project Support services and Project Assurance services to a project, just remember that the Project Assurance persons report to the Project Board.

Project Manager and the Project Organization

Working with the Project Management Team
In most cases Project Managers may not be able to choose most team members. They have to work along with the people provided and should immediately try to build trust and create a functional team.

Different types of people have different characteristics and skills. For example, some people can be very sociable and good at suggesting ideas while others may be much better at working out the details and making sure that all possibilities are covered. Still others might need some encouragement to open up or participate in the project activities.

The Project Manager should therefore get to know the characteristics of the people, use this knowledge to build a better Project Management Team and understand what people expect to get from the project or how they would like to participate.

The Project Manager should also recognize if training is required by team members and get this planned. Training offered might include how to do reporting, how to carry out quality procedures, and/or how to define requirements and learn more about the specialist products.

The Project Manager should also check that part-time team members are not working on too many other projects and get commitment that they can deliver what is agreed. This is especially important for persons working on critical path tasks, as we want to avoid any delay with these.

Working with the Corporate Organization

The Project Manager must understand the organizational environment they are working in and if necessary, get support from the Project Board to ensure that all team members are aware of their responsibilities.

A Center of Excellence can also be provided in a corporate organization to provide support to the projects.

This can include such things as:

  • Advice on standards, preparing plans, training
  • Central filing system and Configuration Management system for all projects
  • Expertise on estimating techniques
  • Any other advice on PRINCE2.

This Center of Excellence can also be referred to as project coaching or Project Support.

Working with Stakeholders

It is important to recognize who the stakeholders are in a project and how to engage them during the project. Some stakeholders will be very valuable to the project, providing lots of information, suggestions and support to it. For example, let us say that the project was to build a new incinerator on the outskirts of a city.

The stakeholders could be an environment group, city planning commission, contractors, equipment suppliers, unions representing future workers, local resident groups and possibly others.

As you can imagine, some of these stakeholders could oppose the project and some might support it, as they would benefit from the project.

The Project Manager, with guidance from the Executive, will decide how best to communicate and engage with these stakeholders.

About the Author Dave Litten

David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of project-related downloadable video training products under the Primer and Projex Academy brand names. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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