A project manager is held responsible for all the holistic results of the project team and must have related project management and technical knowledge and experience in order for them to succeed in the role. Leadership, planning, coordination and communications play an important role in the daily operations and workings of a Project Manager as a project manager influences his/her project, organization, industry, the professional discipline and other disciplines. Hence, the impact of a project manager is quite extensive and their influence is further spread to other managers, governing bodies, customers, external stakeholders, etc.
Project Manager’s Sphere of Influence
Project managers fulfill numerous roles within their sphere of influence and these roles reflect the project manager’s capabilities and are representative of the value and contributions of the project management profession.
Within the project, the Project Manager:
- leads the project team to meet the project’s objectives and stakeholders’ expectations;
- works to balance the competing constraints on the project with the resources available;
- performs communication roles between the project sponsor, team members, and other stakeholders; and
- provides direction and presents the vision of success for the project, to the team.
The project manager uses soft skills (e.g., interpersonal skills and the ability to manage people) to balance the conflicting and competing goals of the project stakeholders in order to achieve consensus. Research reveals that the top 2% of project managers as designated by their bosses and team members distinguish themselves by demonstrating superior relationship and communication skills while displaying a positive attitude.
The ability to communicate with stakeholders, including the team and sponsors apply across multiple aspects of the project including, but not limited to, the following:
- Developing finely tuned skills using multiple methods (e.g., verbal, written, and nonverbal);
- Creating, maintaining, and adhering to communications plans and schedules;
- Communicating predictably and consistently;
- Seeking to understand the project stakeholders’ communication needs (communication may be the only deliverable that some stakeholders received until the project’s end product or service is completed);
- Making communications concise, clear, complete, simple, relevant, and tailored;
- Including important positive and negative news;
- Incorporating feedback channels; and — Relationship skills involving the development of extensive networks of people throughout the project manager’s spheres of influence.
These networks include formal networks such as organizational reporting structures. However, the informal networks that project managers develop, maintain, and nurture are more important.
The project manager proactively interacts with other project managers to balance demands on shared resources, helps create a positive influence for fulfilling the various needs of the project, and to manage:
- Priorities of funding,
- Receipt or distribution of deliverables, and
- Alignment of project goals and objectives with those of the organization.
These needs may be in the form of human, technical, or financial resources and deliverables required by the team for project completion. The project manager seeks ways to develop relationships that assist the team in achieving the goals and objectives of the project.
The project manager also works to:
- Demonstrate the value of project management,
- Increase acceptance of project management in the organization, and — Advance the efficacy of the PMO when one exists in the organization.
The project manager works closely with all relevant managers to achieve the project objectives and to ensure the project management plan aligns with the portfolio or program plan.
The project manager also works closely and in collaboration with other roles, such as organizational managers, subject matter experts, and those involved with business analysis.
The project manager stays informed about current industry trends and works out how it may impact or apply to the current projects, positively or negatively.
These trends include:
- Product and technology development;
- New and changing market niches;
- Standards (e.g., project management, quality management, information security management);
- Technical support tools;
- Economic forces that impact the immediate project;
- Influences affecting the project management discipline; and — Process improvement and sustainability strategies.
Continuing knowledge transfer and integration is very important for the project manager.
This professional development is ongoing in the project management profession and in other areas where the project manager maintains subject matter expertise.
This knowledge transfer and integration includes but is not limited to:
- The contribution of knowledge and expertise to others within the profession at the local, national, and global levels (e.g., communities of practice, international organizations); and
- Participation in training, continuing education, and development
- In the project management profession (e.g., universities, PMI);
- In a related profession (e.g., systems engineering, configuration management); and
- In other professions (e.g., information technology, aerospace).
A professional project manager may choose to orient and educate other professionals regarding the value of a project management approach to the organization.
The project manager may serve as an informal ambassador by educating the organization as to the advantages of project management with regard to timeliness, quality, innovation, and resource management.