While working with web developers or mobile app development companies , a question often arises: “Why do we need a project manager?” This might seem like a valid question but only to those who are not well informed about the whole process of development and hence overlook of the significance of a project manager in a team.
For as long as great project development firms have existed, Project Managers have been an integral part of these projects. The main reason why such questions arise is “Cost”. On the surface, it seems like Project Managers do not have anything tangible to contribute like code by the developers or graphics like a designer. Hence, people have the bizarre thought of whether it is necessary to pay for the project manager.
Taking a look into the process, we will show why a project manager is the backbone of your project’s success.
What is Project management?
Before we take a look at the role of a project manager, let’s have a look at what project management is.
Project management is the process of monitoring, handling and delivering a project that is aligned to meet paticular goals. This process include intiating the project, planning its course, executing the plan, controlling the workflow and closing the project. These goals or more simply known as a project are usually aimed at designing a unique product to add value to a business. Typically, these goals have to be achieved in a high time and resource constraint. The whole project management process is bound by the challenge to meet all the set goals within a number of limitations. This information is usually discussed and detailed during the initial stages of development process.
Digging a little deeper into the 5 phases of project management, they are as follows:
1. Project Initiation: This included examining whether the project idea will benefit the organization or not. Also, the ability to practically execute the project is also analyzed.
2. Project Planning: The next step is formulating a project plan which is usually put in writing. It outlines all the work that is to be performed during the development process.
3. Project Execution: Once the planning is completed, the resources and tasks are distributed and teams are informed of their responsibilities. The team then move on to start working on their assigned tasks.
4. Project Control: In this phase, the project status and progress is compared to the actual plan, as the teams continue to perform their work. During this phase, if required, adjustments to resources and schedules are made to keep the work on track.
5. Project Close: Once all tasks are completed and the project has been approved, the project is closed and its history goes through an evaluation phase which highlights the successes and things to learn from this development cycle.
Now that Project Management is pretty clear, we move on to take a look at how project managers actually fit the role.
What are the benefits of Project Managers?
In the project management phases mentioned above, each phase is a pillar of utmost importance. If you think skipping a step of these would be fine, you might want to think again because neglecting even one of these steps will jeopardize the success of your whole project.
In a short answer to the importance of project managers, it is the fact that they are the ones who carry out all the above mentioned processes. Not the developers, not the designers but only the Project Managers have the capability of putting your project through all the important phases for it to succeed. Removing or even replacing them can seriously damage the development process. This is especially a big problem in outsourcing projects , among others.
A few other ways how project managers are key to your project’s success are:
1. They Provide Direction – The first goal of the project manager is to carefully analyze the requirements and vision of the project. They then plan out the workflow and give the project a direction to proceed in. They are the single source of communication that modify the complex language of the developers into an understandable version for the stakeholders and vice versa.
2. They Increase Efficiency – The project manager is the one that defines a workflow for the development team and assigns tasks based on the expertise of each. The project managers also mediate the communications among various teams in order to keep all the work in synch.
3. They Control Scope of the Project – The scope of the project includes the various components that are required to put the project together. The project manager mediates through the development of all the components and their compilation. This allows the project to be carried out parallely thereby making the process much faster.
4. They Manage Project Costs – Financial constraints are always a major concern for any project. Project managers are the ones who keep a check on the costs of various resources of the project which include developer costs, equipment costs, time delay costs etc. They are also responsible to keep the project within the defined budget.
5. They Manage Project Schedule – Another challenging constraint of any project is time. The project manager controls the project schedule by examining milestones, key dates and the critical path throughout the project development lifecycle. This also includes calculating the time a task takes and solving any problems which may delay them making their deadlines. The project manager ensures that the developer team works according to the defined workflow and stay on schedule.
6. They Deal with Risks – No matter what the project is, it always carries a high potential of risks. A project Manager assesses their impact and plans to either avoid them before they occur or manage them efficiently in case they occur unexpectedly. They make sure that your project does not face any undesirable implications in any way.
7. They Close the Project – Once the project is completed, the project manager delivers the project to the stakeholders. They then proceed to documenting the project life cycle and evaluate each phase. Even though this might seem irrelevant, it definitely is not. This evaluation helps you plan your next project more efficiently avoiding all speed bumps and probably saving a lot of resources.
The responsibilities of these important functions are over the shoulders of the project manager. Each of these functions is crucial to making your project a success and hence is the project manager. The typical servant-leader role that people often recommend to replace a project manager might be fine in usual business contexts where the product already exists. However, it’s not true in the process of developing that product.
Hence, there is no doubt in the fact that Project Managers are the backbone of any project.