Project Management MGMT627
THE PROJECT MANAGER
Skills needed in a Project Manager
Functional Manager versus Project Managers
Selecting the Project Manager
Location, reporting and salary of the Project Manager
Duties and job description of Project Managers
Next generation Project Managers
Skill Requirements for Project Managers:
Projects are often complex and multifaceted. Managing these projects represents a challenge,
requiring skills in team building, leadership, conflict resolution, technical expertise, planning,
organization, entrepreneurship, administration, management support, and the allocation of
This section examines these skills relative to Project Management effectiveness. A key factor to
good project performance is the Project Manager's ability to integrate personnel from many
disciplines into an effective work team. To get results, the Project Manager must relate to:
The people to be managed
The task to be done
The tools available
The organizational structure
The organizational environment, including the customer community
All work factors are interrelated and operate under the limited control of the Project Manager.
With an understanding of the interaction of corporate organization and behavior elements, the
manager can build an environment conducive to the working team's needs.
The internal and external forces that impinge on the organization of the project must be
reconciled to mutual goals. Thus, the Project Manager must be, both socially and technically
aware to understand how the organization functions and how these functions will affect the
Project organization of the particular job to be done. In addition, the Project Manager must
understand the culture and value system of the organization he is working with. Research and
experience show that effective Project Management performance is directly related to the level
of proficiency at which these skills are mastered.
Ten specific skills are identified (in no particular order) and discussed in this section:
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It is important that the personal management traits underlying these skills operate to form a
homogeneous management style. The right mixture of skill levels depends on the project task,
the techniques employed, the people assigned, and the organizational structure. To be effective,
Project Managers must consider all facets of getting the job done. Their management style must
facilitate the integration of multidisciplinary project resources for synergistic operations. The
days of the manager who gets by with technical expertise alone or pure administrative skills are
gone. The ten specific skills required in a good Project Manager can be discussed as follows:
Team Building Skills:
Building the project team is one of the prime responsibilities of the Project Manager.
Team building involves a whole spectrum of management skills required to identify,
commit, and integrate the various task groups from the traditional functional
organization into a single Project Management system.
To be effective, the Project Manager must provide an atmosphere conducive to
teamwork. He must nurture a climate with the following characteristics:
Team members committed to the project
Good interpersonal relations and team spirit
The necessary expertise and resources
Clearly defined goals and project objectives
Involved and supportive top management
Good project leadership
Open communication among team members and support organizations
A low degree of detrimental interpersonal and inter-group conflict
Three major considerations are involved in all of the above factors aimed towards
integration of people from many disciplines into an effective team:
a) Effective communication
b) Sincere interest in the professional growth of team members
c) Commitment to the project
An absolutely essential prerequisite for project success is the Project Manager's ability
to lead the team within a relatively unstructured environment. It involves dealing
effectively with managers and supporting personnel across functional lines with little or
no formal authority. It also involves information processing skills, the ability to collect
and filter relevant data valid for decision making in a dynamic environment. It involves
the ability to integrate individual demands, requirements, and limitations into decisions
that benefit overall project performance. It further involves the Project Manager's ability
to resolve inter-group conflicts that is an important factor in overall project
Perhaps more than in any other position below the general manager's level, quality
leadership depends heavily on the Project Manager's personal experience and credibility
within the organization. An effective management style might be characterized this
Clear project leadership and direction
Assistance in problem solving
Facilitating the integration of new members into the team
Ability to handle interpersonal conflict
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Facilitating group decisions
Capability to plan and elicit commitments
Ability to communicate clearly
Presentation of the team to higher management
Ability to balance technical solutions against economic and human factors
The personal traits desirable and supportive of the above skills are:
Project management experience
Flexibility and change orientation
Initiative and enthusiasm
Charisma and persuasiveness
Organization and discipline
Conflict Resolution Skills:
Conflict is fundamental to complex task management. It is often determined by the
interplay of the Project organization and the larger host organization and its
Understanding the determinants of conflicts is important to the Project Manager's
ability to deal with conflicts effectively. When conflict becomes dysfunctional, it often
results in poor project decision making, lengthy delays over issues, and a disruption of
the team's efforts, all negative influences to project performance. However, conflict can
be beneficial when it produces involvement and new information and enhances the
A number of suggestions have been derived from various research studies aimed at
increasing the Project Manager's ability to resolve conflict and thus, improve overall
Project managers must:
Understand interaction of the organizational and behavioral elements in order to
build an environment conducive to their team's motivational needs. This will
enhance active participation and minimize unproductive conflict.
Communicate effectively with all organizational levels regarding both project
objectives and decisions. Regularly scheduled status review meetings can be an
important communication vehicle.
Recognize the determinants of conflict and their timing in the project life cycle.
Effective project planning, contingency planning, securing of commitments, and
involving top management can help to avoid or minimize many conflicts before they
impede project performance.
The value of the conflict produced depends on the ability of the Project Manager to
promote beneficial conflict while minimizing its potential hazardous consequences. The
accomplished manager needs a "sixth sense" to indicate when conflict is desirable, what
kind of conflict will be useful, and how much conflict is optimal for a given situation.
In the final analysis, he has the sole responsibility for his Project and how conflict will
contribute to its success or failure.
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The Project Manager rarely has all the technical, administrative, and marketing
expertise needed to direct the Project single-handedly. Nor is it necessary or desirable.
It is essential, however, for the Project Manager to understand the technology, the
markets, and the environment of the business to participate effectively in the search for
integrated solutions and technological innovations. More important, without this
understanding, the integrated consequences of local decisions on the total Project, the
potential growth ramifications, and relationships to other business opportunities cannot
be foreseen by the manager. Further technical expertise is necessary to evaluate
technical concepts and solutions, to communicate effectively in technical terms with the
project team, and to assess risks and make trade-offs between cost, schedule, and
technical issues. This is why in complex problem-solving situations so many project
managers must have an engineering background.
Taken together, technical expertise is important to the successful management of
engineering projects. It is composed of an understanding of the:
Engineering tools and techniques employed
Specific markets, their customers, and requirements
Technological trends and evolutions
Relationship among supporting technologies
People who are part of the technical community
This is normally an excellent testing ground for the future Project Manager. It also
allows top management to judge the new candidate's capacity for managing the
technological innovations and integration of solutions needed for success.
Planning skills are helpful for any undertaking; they are absolutely essential, however,
for the successful management of large complex projects. The project plan is the road
map that defines how to get from the start to the final results.
Project planning is an ongoing activity at all organizational levels. However, the
preparation of a project summary plan, prior to project start, is the responsibility of the
Project Manager. Effective project planning requires particular skills far beyond writing
a document with schedules and budgets. It requires communication and information
processing skills to define the actual resource requirements and administrative support
necessary. It requires the ability to negotiate the necessary resources and commitments
from key personnel in various support organizations with little or no formal authority,
including the definition of measurable milestones.
Effective planning requires skills in the areas of:
Incremental and modular planning
Assuring measurable milestones
Facilitating top management involvement
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In addition, the Project Manager must assure that the plan remains a viable document.
Changes in project scope and depth are inevitable. The plan should reflect necessary
changes through formal revisions and should be the guiding document throughout the
life cycle of the Project. Nothing is more useless than an obsolete or irrelevant plan.
Finally, Project Managers need to be aware that planning can be overdone. If not
controlled, planning can become an end in itself and a poor substitute for innovative
work. Individuals retreat to the utopia of no responsibility where innovative actions
cannot be taken ''because it is not in the plan." It is the responsibility of the Project
Manager to build flexibility into the plan and regulate it against such misuse.
The Project Manager must be a social architect, that is, he must understand how the
organization works and how to work with the organization. Organizational skills are
particularly important during project formation and startup when the Project Manager
establishes the project organization by integrating people from many different
disciplines into an effective work team. It requires far more than simply constructing a
project organization chart. At a minimum, it requires defining the reporting
relationships, responsibilities, lines of control, and information needs. Supporting skills
in the area of planning, communication, and conflict resolution are particularly helpful.
A good project plan and a task matrix are useful organizational tools. In addition, the
organizational effort is facilitated by clearly defined project objectives, open
communication channels, good project leadership, and senior management support.
The Project Manager also needs a general management perspective. For example,
economic considerations are one important area that normally affects the organization's
financial performance. However, objectives often are much broader than profits.
Customer satisfaction, future growth, cultivation of related market activities, and
minimum organizational disruptions of other projects might be equally important goals.
The effective Project Manager is concerned with all these issues. Entrepreneurial skills
are developed through actual experience. However, formal training (MBA type), special
seminars, and cross-functional training projects can help to develop the entrepreneurial
skills needed by Project Managers.
Administrative skills are essential. The Project Manager must be experienced in
planning, staffing, budgeting, scheduling, and other control techniques. In dealing with
technical personnel, the problem is seldom to make people understand administrative
techniques such as budgeting and scheduling, but to impress on them that costs and
schedules are just as important as elegant technical solutions.
Particularly on larger projects, managers rarely have all the administrative skills
required. While it is important that Project Managers understand the company's
operating procedures and available tools, it is often necessary for the program manager
to free him/her from administrative details regardless of his/her ability to handle them.
He/she has to delegate considerable administrative tasks to support groups or hire a
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Some helpful tools for the manager in the administration of his project include:
· The meeting
· The report
· The review
· The budget and schedule controls
Project Managers must be thoroughly familiar with these available tools and know how
to use them effectively.
Management Support Building Skills:
The Project Manager is surrounded by a myriad of organizations that either support
them or control their activities. An understanding of these interfaces is important to
Project Managers as it enhances their ability to build favorable relationships with senior
management. Management support is often an absolute necessity for dealing effectively
with interface groups. Project organizations are shared power systems with personnel of
many diverse interests and "ways of doing things." These power systems have a
tendency toward imbalance. Only a strong leader backed by senior management can
prevent the development of unfavorable biases.
Four key variables influence the project manager's ability to create favorable
relationships with senior management. These are:
Their ongoing credibility
The visibility of their project
The priority of the project relative to other organizational undertakings
Their own accessibility
All these factors are interrelated and can be developed by the individual manager.
Furthermore, senior management can aid such development significantly.
Resource Allocation Skills:
A project organization has many bosses. Functional lines often shield support
organizations from direct financial control by the project office. Once a task has been
authorized, it is often impossible to control the personnel assignments, priorities, and
indirect manpower costs. In addition, profit accountability is difficult owing to the
interdependencies of various support departments and the often changing work scope
Effective and detailed project planning may facilitate commitment and reinforce
control. Part of the plan is the "Statement of Work," which establishes a basis for
resource allocation. It is also important to work out specific agreements with all key
contributors and their superiors on the tasks to be performed and the associated budgets
and schedules. Measurable milestones are not only important for hardware components,
but also for the "invisible" project components such as systems and software tasks.
Ideally, these commitments on specifications, schedules, and budgets should be
established through involvement by key personnel in the early phases of project
formation, such as the proposal phase. This is the time when requirements are still
flexible, and trade-offs among performance, schedule, and budget parameters are
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Functional Manager versus Project Manager:
Assuming that the Project and Functional Managers is not the same person, we can identify a
specific role for the Functional Manager. There are the following elements to this role:
· The Functional Manager has the responsibility to define how the task will be done and
where the task will be done (i.e., the technical criteria).
· The Functional Manager has the responsibility to provide sufficient resources to accomplish
the objective within the project's constraints (i.e., who will get the job done).
· The Functional Manager has the responsibility for the deliverable.
The major responsibility of the Project Manager is planning. If project planning is performed
correctly, then it is conceivable that the Project Manager will work himself out of a job because
the project can run itself. As the architect of the project plan, the Project Manager must provide:
Complete task definitions
Resource requirement definitions (possibly skill levels)
Major timetable milestones
Definition of end item quality and reliability requirements
The basis for performance measurement
These factors, if properly established, result in:
Assurance that functional units will understand their total responsibilities toward achieving
Assurance that problems resulting from scheduling and allocation of critical resources are
Early identification of problems that may jeopardize successful project completion so that
effective corrective action and re-planning can be done to prevent or resolve the problems.
Project Manager are responsible for project administration and, therefore, must have the right to
establish their own policies, procedures, rules, guidelines, and directives provided these
policies, guidelines etc. conform to overall company policy. Companies with mature project
management structures usually have rather loose company guidelines, so project managers have
some degree of flexibility in how to control their projects.
Selecting the Project Manager:
Probably the most difficult decision facing upper level management is the selection of Project
Manager. Some Managers work best on long-duration projects where decision making can be
slow; others may thrive on short-duration projects that can result in a constant pressure
The new individual is apt to make the same mistakes the veteran made. However, executives
cannot always go with the seasoned veterans without creating frustrating career path
opportunities for the younger personnel. Project Manager selection is a general management
A Project Manager is given license to cut across several organizational lines. His activities,
therefore, take on a flavor of general management, and must be done well.
Project management will not succeed without good Project Managers. Thus, if general
management sees fit to establish a project, it should certainly see fit to select a good man as
A Project Manager is far more likely to accomplish desired goals if it is obvious that
general management has selected and appointed him.
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The selection process for Project Manager is not an easy one. Five basic questions must be
What are the internal and external sources?
How do we select?
How do we provide career development in project management?
How can we develop project management skills?
How do we evaluate project management performance?
Project management cannot succeed unless a good Project Manager is at the controls. The
selection process is an upper level management responsibility because the Project Manager is
delegated the authority of the general manager to cut across organizational lines in order to
accomplish the desired objectives successfully. It is far more likely that Project Manager will
succeed if it is obvious to the subordinates that the general manager has appointed them.
Usually, a brief memo to the line managers will suffice.
Figure 6.1: Organizational hierarchy
Duties and Job Descriptions:
Since projects, environments, and organizations differ from company to company as well as
project to project, it is not unusual for companies to struggle to provide reasonable job
descriptions of the Project Manager and associated personnel. Below is a simple list identifying
the duties of a project manager in the construction industry.
Become completely familiar with all contract documents.
Develop the basic plan for executing and controlling the project.
Direct the preparation of project procedures.
Direct the preparation of the project budget.
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Direct the preparation of the project schedule.
Direct the preparation of basic project design criteria and general specifications.
Direct the preparation of the plan for organizing, executing, and controlling field
Review plans and procedures periodically and institute changes if necessary.
Develop organization chart for project.
Review project position descriptions, outlining duties, responsibilities, and
restrictions for key project supervisors.
Participate in the selection of key project supervisors.
Develop project manpower requirements.
Continually review project organization and recommend changes in organizational
structure and personnel, if necessary.
Direct all work on the project that is required to meet contract obligations.
Develop and maintain a system for decision making within the project team
whereby decisions are made at the proper level.
Promote the growth of key project supervisors.
Establish objectives for Project Manager and performance goals for key Project
Foster and develop a spirit of project team effort.
Assist in resolution of differences or problems between departments or groups on
Anticipate and avoid or minimize potential problems by maintaining current
knowledge of overall project status.
Monitor project activities for compliance with company purpose and philosophy
and general corporate policies.
Interpret, communicate, and require compliance with the contract, the approved
plan, project procedures, and directives of the client.
Maintain personal control of adherence to contract warranty and guarantee
Closely monitor project activities for conformity to contract scope provisions.
Establish change notice procedure to evaluate and communicate scope changes.
Maintain effective communications with the client and all groups performing
Next Generation Project Managers:
The skills needed to be an effective, twenty-first century Project Manager have changed from
those needed during the 1980s. Historically, only engineers were given the opportunity to
become Project Managers. The belief was that the Project Manager had to have a command of
technology in order to make all of the technical decisions. As project management began to
grow and as projects became larger and more complex, it became obvious that Project
Managers might need simply an understanding rather than a command of technology. This trend
will become even more pronounced in the twenty-first century.
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The primary skills needed to be an effective project manager in the this century will be:
Knowledge of the business
The critical skill is risk management. However, to perform risk management effectively, a
sound knowledge of the business is required. Figure 6.2 below shows the changes in project
management skills needed between 1985 and 2000. Training in these business skills is on the
Figure 6.2: Project Management Skills
Table: Methods and Techniques for Developing Project Managers:
Working with experienced professional leader
Working with project team member
Assigning a variety of project management responsibilities, consecutively
Formal on-the-job training
Supporting multifunctional activities
Customer liaison activities
Courses, seminars, workshops
Simulations, games, cases
Hands-on exercises in using project management techniques
Readings, books, trade journals, professional magazines
Formally established and recognized project management function
Proper project organization
Project support systems
Project management directives, policies, and procedures.
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