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Project Management: What exactly does a PM do?

Jamie Holzer
Jamie Holzer

Project managers play a significant role when it comes to steering project success, and knowing more about their daily tasks can help you understand why.

So what does a Project Manager do anyway?

I get asked to describe the role of a project manager all the time from management, clients, family and friends. Project managers are the glue of any project – they hold everything together and always with a smile! As a PM, on a daily basis here at Aware, I am working with both internal teams and external teams/clients to get projects from start to finish/launch within a set timeframe, budget and scope. I always need to be one step ahead of where my team or client is to know what to expect next. Processes, planning and communication, organization, attention to detail and a sense of humor are keys to success when being the point person on the project. As a PM everyone looks to you for their next step, direction or priority and if you don’t have that information – chaos is likely to ensue.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communication is key to a PM’s role – we are in constant communication with our teams and clients on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Each morning at Aware, we have a “scrum” call with our team to check in with each other, determine what progress was made yesterday, discuss any new risks or issues to a project and determine what everyone will be working on for the day to accomplish the tasks at hand. We also discuss any priority shifts, updates to clients or projects as needed and work to get any further discussions/meetings set up to allow for a productive work day. Working virtually makes communication even more key to our project process. I expect my team to communicate with me throughout the day, as needed, to provide any updates, issues or needs – so I can quickly and proactively work to communicate the information out to the respective parties or work with my team to determine the best course of action or solution.

Managing the project

Being the central person on a project allows the rest of the team to focus on the work/tasks at hand versus dealing with the management of the project. They are able to concentrate on what they do best, offering up information to the PM as needed to help communicate status to respective parties. The PM handles managing the timeline, budget and scope on a daily basis along with giving management and client’s status of projects whether good or bad. People tend to either love us or hate us – as we are the deliverer of good and bad information regarding a project. Of course, no one wants to hear the bad – but being honest and upfront at the onset of issues showcases a good partner and helps to determine solutions, if needed, more quickly to keep the project on track.

Keeping everyone on track

As project managers at Aware, daily we are monitoring, reviewing and approving time tracked to jobs, updating timelines based on progress made or changes, communicating with our internal and external teams, providing status updates, managing  budgets and reporting, knowing what the next step is for team members and clients, follow ups, writing up Statements of Work and Change Requests, invoicing, being the listening ear for anyone on the team who needs to talk through things or vent so they can keep working, and providing a laugh to the team when needed most. Some believe PM’s can be project killers or time and budget suck but PM’s are the glue that hold everyone together on projects and hold everyone on the team accountable. Without the PM (leader of the pack) projects are more likely to go astray in timing, budget and scope. The PM’s role is to keep everyone on task and on track to get the job accomplished.

Fostering project success

Project managers at Aware are always part of the team – we support our teams and clients every step of the way through all the ups and downs to make the project a success viewed by all! 

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