First of all, let’s explain who a PM is and what his/her duties are. If we were to define the role of a Project Manager in general terms we could say that a PM is a human resource that brings together all the elements of a project. He/she must therefore fully understand the project assigned to him/her and be organized enough to see it through to completion. It is important to have the passion to get up every morning and start working with vigor. A PM is a goal-oriented person who is aware that the success of not only a specific project, but often of the entire organization, depends on him/her.
How does a PM work?
It is difficult to draw up a fixed list of PM’s activities with a breakdown into specific steps, days or even hours. Keep in mind that every project has its own specifics and different priorities. Each time a PM faces new challenges. What is more, managing a complex task in the IT industry is an activity with changing dynamics, based on cooperation with a team of professionals with whom you need to be able to get along. PM should therefore be a communicative person, combining the charisma of a leader with the flexibility of a diplomat (the ability to compromise may be crucial here).
An important point on the list of qualities of every candidate for the position of PM must also be the ability to “get things done”. He/she sets the priority of tasks for the team, assigns responsibilities to specialists, sets the direction of activities and watches over the schedule. He/she must also be a good mediator who can mitigate any conflicts arising within the team (which are sometimes difficult to avoid). Ultimately he/she represents his/her team during meetings with the management and the client.
If such a person is not a “turbo-engineer”, the very first task will be a difficult and frustrating road through a series of minor or major disasters – until the unpleasant end, which is rapid burnout, resignation from the position or a spectacular failure of the entire project.
Now that we have created the profile of an ideal PM, let’s consider what tools and methodologies he or she uses in daily work. We should be aware that theoretical knowledge, resourcefulness and the ability to “get things done” are not the whole arsenal that a PM should use. To the list of his/her skills one should also add the knowledge of UX (user experience), testing and processes included in software development. At his/her disposal there is a number of tools, the most important of which are:
- Jira – software that helps track bugs and supports the PM in project management. It helps in work organization thanks to the possibility of storing documentation in one place and simple assignment of tasks to team members.
- Trello – another important tool supporting the development team in performing tasks. With Trello, you can easily set up meetings, organize developers’ work and set common goals. Importantly, this program can be integrated with Jira.
- Agile methodologies – it’s a work philosophy assuming use of multiple methods leading to achievement of an assumed goal, which in this case is creation of a specific product. Agile methodologies are great for working on software because they assume variability, pace and unpredictability of such process.
PM’s responsibilities to the team, projects and customers
PM’s responsibilities to the team were already defined in the initial paragraphs of this text. He/she defines priorities, delegates tasks, manages the schedule, provides support in case of conflicts and other unforeseen situations and represents the developers in front of management or customers.
As far as projects are concerned, a PM is responsible for their organization, course and final result. You can say that he/she binds all processes into one coherent whole.
He/she also takes care of all phases of the project lifecycle (more on that in a moment) preparing the schedule, risk analysis, monitoring of work, budget and other parameters. It is the PM who maintains the necessary documentation and cooperates with subcontractors. A good PM is also able to propose solutions and tools leading to timely and smooth execution of tasks assigned to his/her team.
Within the organization, a PM reports on work progress and project experience. He or she also communicates any project risks. If necessary, he/she requests the necessary support.
Project lifecycle phases
As promised, we have left for last the phases of the project life cycle, which of course are overseen by our tireless PM. These are therefore:
- Initiation – This is where the Project Charter is created, which should include elements such as: goal, budget, project risks, team scope of work, etc.
- Planning – Planning is the implementation of the points contained in the Project Charter. In this phase everyone learns what to do and how to do it.
- Implementation – In this phase the PM together with the development team to set the strategy for task execution and gets down to work.
- Monitoring and controlling the project – This is the moment when the PM uses all his/her skills and competencies described in the previous paragraphs. He/she is like a captain on a ship which has to reach a particular shore intact, without any losses in the crew and with a hold full of goods.
- Completion – Here comes the big unveiling of the cloth under which a great new application is hidden. This is also the best moment to gather lessons learned and summarize the experience
Want to know more about Project Manager job? We refer to an interesting article created not only for programmers!