Are you looking for a new career where there are always new challenges and opportunities for growth? Or a new career that you will never get bored of? Are you always the leader in a group and like to keep everyone focused on a specific goal in mind?
If the answer is yes to all of these questions, then you could thrive in a Project Management environment. In this blog article, we will help you to understand how you can expand your skill-set and get hired as a real life Project Manager!
First Of All, What Is A Project Manager?
A Project Manager (PM) is a professional who will plan, lead teams, keep projects on time and within budget and are responsible for the success of failure of each project.
The average salary for a Project Manager in the UK is £50K or above and this alone is a good enough reason to make most people curious about this line of work.
Being a Project Manager sounds pretty cool, right? It is, but like anything that’s worthwhile, becoming a productive and successful Project Manager takes some work and dedication.
What Does A Project Manager Do?
Project Management has always played an important part in the business and is only getting more crucial as time goes by.
Here, we are going to take a closer look at what Project Managers do, including key responsibilities – so you can decide if this is the right career path for you.
Planning A Project
A Project Manager will formulate project plans around the project’s objectives, budget and timeline. These project plans will guide the entire project team from ideation to fruition and will include the scope of the project.
Delivering Business Needs
Projects are the lifeline of a viable business and Project Managers have become integral to the continued success of a company in general. A Project Manager must ensure the business value of a project is clearly defined from the outset and understood by all stakeholders.
A Project Manager should follow these steps to deliver Business Value:
Understand The Vision – The sponsor of the project will be able to identify their vision for the project and the vision should include a high level view of the scope of the project and the reason why the project was created in the first place. The Project Manager should sit down with the sponsor and document the vision. The Project Manager really needs to believe in the purpose of the project and feel that it’s worth of the effort involved.
Be Clear About The Business Value Of The Project – After the Project Manager has captured the vision of the project, the Business Value will be documented. It is crucial that the organisation identifies the value the project will deliver and how the results will be measured during the project. The Business Value should be stated in monetary terms whenever possible, but there are times where non-monetary benefits will be identified.
Use the Vision And Business Value To Inspire The Project Team – A key responsibility of a Project Manager is to motivate the Project Team. It is important for the Project Manager to inspire the team with the vision and business value of the project. If the Project Manager can get the Project Team on-board, then they will become more engaged in their work and enthusiastic about delivering value to the customer.
Measure The Realisation Of The Business Value – The Project Manager is responsible for reporting on the progress of a project and the realisation of business value as deliverables are completed. The first realisation of the increased value might not be measurable for a while after the project is completed.
Setting Realistic Timescales
Every Project Manager should possess the essential skill of being able to set realistic timescales for projects. It not only keeps stakeholders happy; it helps to ensure that things get done in a timely manners and builds a positive reputation.
A huge risk in Project Management is under-delivering, if you set deadlines which are too tight, then you will add stress to your team, but if the deadlines are too loose, then you might slow the project right down and won’t be able to move forward as quickly as you’d like.
Here are some tips for setting realistic deadlines in a project:
• Break the project into manageable steps and set sub-deadlines for each step.
• Think about previous projects and its delays, assume that it could happen again and factor this into your timeline.
• Identify what else might be going on at the same time as the project, members of the Project Team may be on annual leave or it could fall into a busy period with other conflicting priorities.
• If you are setting deadlines, which rely on the work of other people, then check in with them and make sure that these timescales are reasonable.
• Get into the habit of reviewing and meeting your sub-deadlines as this will give you a better chance of avoiding any unpleasant surprises.
• If possible, work on tasks well ahead of deadlines and you might have the bonus of completing the project early.
Ensure Quality Of Products
A Project Manager must ensure that the services and products that the project delivers are at the required quality level and keep the quality of deliverables consistent. If you use quality management processes in the project, then you will continue to have happy customers.
Working Within A Budget
Are you someone who consistently overspends in life?
Well, you will need to learn quickly how to negotiate, make the most of a budget and save money where you can. A Project Manager is responsible for creating, moderating and being in control of the budget for a project.
The organisation will expect you to keep to the budget as closely as possible and if certain aspects of the project end up costing more than forecasted, then it will be up to you to reallocate funds when necessary, or go back to the customer and ‘ask for more’.
Leading A Team
The role of Project Manager requires excellent communication, people and leadership skills as well as the ability to identify other’s strengths and weaknesses in a team.
Documenting A Project
A Project Manager is tasked with coming up with effective ways to analyse the success or failure of each project. You will write and send status reports and ensure that all actions are approved and signed off throughout the project.
Reviewing A Project
Just because the project is completed, it doesn’t mean your work is over…
A Project Manager will review the performance of a project, take note of the lessons learned, identify key areas for further development and determine the satisfaction of stakeholders.
Becoming An Agile Project Manager
Agile Project Management is the modern, flexible approach to Project Management as it allows you to break large projects down into more manageable tasks, which are tackled in short iterations or sprints.
Agile Project Management allows you to adapt to changes quicker and deliver work fast. The objective of Agile is to produce shorter development cycles and more product releases than traditional waterfall Project Management.
As a Project Manager, you can use two different Agile Project Management Frameworks, Scrum or Kanban – both Agile project methodology has the same basic processes, which includes:
1. Project Planning
2. Product Roadmap Creation
3. Release Planning
4. Sprint Planning
5. Daily Meetings
6. Sprint Review & Retrospective
What Are The Challenges Of A Project Manager?
The role of Project Manager may seem like it is an easy, well paid job, however the are some tough challenges that you will need to overcome throughout your career.
Unrealistic deadlines is a Project Management challenge which can severely affect the quality of the end product. Any veteran Project Manager knows how to negotiate the project timeline based on the capability of the project team.
Resources can range from anything from technology to personnel and if you haven’t noticed that your resources cannot cover what you have planned in a project, then it can lead to a breaking point with detrimental consequences.
Inadequate Skills Of Team Members
A chain is as strong as its weakest link and the success of a project depends of every team members individual skill levels. A Project Manager can cultivate the most ideal environment, but if team members do not have the skills to face the problem at hand, then your project is doomed to fail.
Project Manager Myths
Project Managers are often seen as interfering with the project, instead of helping team members. It can be frustrating to combat the impression of being paper pushing, admin bullies who are extra work to a project.
Why Become A Project Manager?
No matter how difficult it can be at times, there are so many advantages of being a Project Manager.
Here are some of the great benefits of being a Project Manager:
Receive A Great Salary
Project Managers are always needed around the world and the average salary in the UK starts from £50,000 and goes up with time. Professionals who achieve Project Management certifications tend to receive thousands more than those who don’t become certified.
Meet New People & Build Relationships
Project Managers have the opportunity to meet experts in different fields and networking is often the key to success. You might meet other professionals who can help you with your latest project and even make new friends along the way.
Continue To Learn & Grow In Your Career
As a Project Manager, you will always learn new things to stay at the top of your game, whether it’s about new technologies in the industry or ways to interact with other team members. You will always have access to professional development opportunities.
Get Recognised For Results
Let’s be honest, it feels good to get praised for job well done!
It feels amazing to get recognised for all of your hard work and dedication. There will be some days as a Project Manager where you do not receive any acknowledge for you or your teams success, but when you complete a project and delivers high quality results – you will be on cloud nine when everything you have accomplished is noticed by others.
As you may have already guessed, the Project Management arena is never boring or tedious. Throughout your career, you will feel a sense of excitement, job satisfaction and pride. All of your ‘wins’ will form your reputation as a successful and highly productive Project Manager.
How Do I Become A Project Manager?
In order to become the best Project Manager, you need to be a team leader, colleague and supervisor in one role and no two days in the office will ever be the same.
Before you begin your Project Management journey, you should see if this career is right for you. Read some stories online from other PM’s, reach out to them and ask all of your questions.
Purple Griffon offer a selection of online Project Management education opportunities, which you can use to become certified and learn best practices.
If you have never worked as a Project Manager within an organisation, then you should conduct intensive research into the different processes, techniques and online tools that Project Manager’s utilise within a project.
As an entry-level Project Manager, you should find a work environment, which will allow you to evolve through all of the Project Manager levels and learn from experienced colleagues.
Some Tips For Becoming A Successful Project Manager:
Learn How To Adapt Quickly!
You will be in charge of a variety of tasks from developing project plans to communicating with important stakeholders in the business. You may find yourself leading an IT project one day to handling construction of the building next door. If you don’t think you would be suited to handling radical changes, then specialising in one specific field is an option.
Get A Certification!
A qualification will not only increase your chances of a pay rise, it will help you to learn industry standard best practices. Some of the certifications you should consider are:
Talk To An Expert!
As a leader, people look to you constantly for answers and it can sometimes feel lonely. If possible, find a mentor or colleague who can guide you through your career. A skilled Project Manager who has the time and patience could teach you some valuable tips and tricks.
If you want to become a good or even great Project Manager, then you really must love what you do. You need to be able to enjoy what you are doing, celebrate success and put on a brave face whenever things aren’t going as you planned. Combine a positive attitude and formal training and you are ready for a pressure free career as a Project Manager.
Did you find our ‘How To Become A Successful Project Manager’ blog article helpful? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.