What It means to be a Project Manager

Working as a Project Manager brought a big change in the thinking and work responsibilities. Earlier the focus was on performing any work in best possible manner as an individual, and now the focus is on getting the work done from team in best possible manner. It is a complete shift in paradigm in term of work, daily routine, work planning and thinking. This experience is not entirely new. Everyone used to manage many things while working with a team (even while working as individual contributor). As you gather more experience, you usually manage other junior members of team for their work either technically or from delivery point of view. But the major difference is that now you are focusing more on management and your are liable for work of a group of people, not only for your work. You focus shift from being an individual contributor, to a team mentor or manager (or both), from core development to more broader terms like:
  • Project Planning and Execution
  • Project Scope Management 
  • Project Time and Cost Management
  • Delivery Management 
  • Risk Management
  • Communication Management
  • Resource Planning
  • People Management 
  • Team Building, Mentoring and Recruitment
  • And sometime Procurement Management
These are the traditional work which comes by default in responsibility set of a Project Manager and hence I got these as gift with new job responsibilities. But there are more to add in this list, which is specific to work place requirement and are giving more enriching experience, these are:
  • Enjoying the coding and technical challenges many times, when team want a big B in coding
  • Architect the solution whenever the project demands
  • Code Reviews and release various guidelines for projects
  • Ensuring the business flow for team by participating in pre-sales activities, and working on estimation and proposals
  • Managing the hardware and software requirement for the team
  • Feedbacks, Appraisals, Conflict Management, Managing negative emotions and instilling positive thoughts
  • Co-ordinating with other departments and working unit to ensure a right working environment for the team
  • Knowledge Management by Knowledge sharing F2F sessions and group discussions on web groups
  • Event Management, sometimes
  • And working as  part of team (for all the teams working along)
All these activities are quite enjoyable and enriching in experience, however with some extra efforts on time management or otherwise, an effect on quality of execution (on each other). Managing all of these assignments in parallel is bit demanding in every aspect.

Let us move ahead. The things were not perfect from the beginning and even not now, however these are improving with time. I started reading around various management practices like Project Management, Communication Management and HR Management. These studies certainly helps a lot in gathering the basic knowledge around these responsibilities; which otherwise I would be learning from experience only and may be struggling in making other believe in my thoughts which are actually not validated on the scale of experience. So studies always help a lot. It helps you to learn from others experience who has already burnt their fingers with various kind of problems and hence concise their experience in these books. Every bookish concept can not be applicable as it is, however one can dwell a right thinking based upon these basics.  

I believe the right Project Management is actually doing the things rightly, planning and thinking in right direction HAVING the desired result and clarity of goals in mind for the Organization. If we are following this principle; planning and execution starts rolling out in right direction itself. Then you yourselves get the right sense of Scope Management, which is good for the project and hence for all the stakeholders. Clients always want a good quality in the work which they assigned to us. So focus on delivering the quality with work, and don't focus on delivering more. Sometime thinking of delivering more seems attractive to lure the clients, however it has negative impact in most of the cases on projects. Team start diverting their focus on delivery more; rather than creating a quality solution. So keep a distance from this strategy. We shall get many chances to do favor to client, however first priority is quality delivery for the tasks which we have promised for.  

Communication Management is another important part of Project Management. I experienced it as most important point in Project Management. This is a single point which seems like least important activity sometime, but actually turns a successful project in grave failure for Client and Organization both if we take it lightly. Hence ensuring a right level of communication to all stakeholders is very important for project success from beginning to end of project. You need not to have a complex set of guidelines for it, however the only thing to consider is transparency for all stakeholders and right level of information flow to all of them at all the time. If we follow this, communication management itself takes the shape and whole project gets benefited from it.

Thinking right for people around you is another major responsibility and covers a larger KRA score for Managers. Organization is made by people who works for it. So if we are thinking right for benefit of Organization, it is actually going good for people as well and vice versa also. Many a times, we face conflicts between people benefits and Organization Benefits. But if we take a broader perspective, actually, these are not different. These are tightly integrated with each other. Anything wrong for one can not be good for other. So what I learnt is, think right for Organization and you will definitely get good for people and if you thinking good for people that can not be bad for Organization also. So keep both perspective alive in thoughts and don't try to set these apart. This can help in one of the best management whether that is for a project, a group of projects or in general.      

If we considering above points, then we are already done with Risk Management. Eliminating the sources of risks is itself a management of Risk. However plan B is always required which practically most of the time comes in existence when we face the risk. So be prepared with plan B, even if you are eliminating the risk factors since beginning of project. 

Keeping things simple, straight, transparent and right for every stakeholder (Organization, Employees, and Client etc) actually bring right Project Management. Try to follow it and you will be PMP soon, however experience is certainly a parameter which can not be covered with books or trainings or ethical thinking. That has its own role to play. So do right things and keep learning with experience; you will deliver great projects.  

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