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Project Management: The Basics

Project Management: The Basics

The role “project manager” or PM, is exactly what it sounds like: a person responsible for the day-to-day management of a given project. Think of this position as the chef d’orchestre, football coach, or a CEO of a temporary team who works to create, manage, and track a project from start to finish. Almost every industry — from tech to retail to publishing — requires people with this skillset. As a project manager, you could be employed by a startup or a big corporation. You could work full-time, freelance, or even be a consultant.

Project managers are responsible for planning, organizing, and managing the completion of a project, while ensuring that it delivers the expected results on time, on budget, and within scope. The exact duties of a project manager will depend on their industry, organization, and the types of projects that the manager is tasked with overseeing.


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Responsibilities Of A PM

  • Initiating: As project manager you begin a project by defining its purpose, the business case, its benefits, and its high-level scope. This includes identifying the key stakeholders, or the individuals or groups who will be impacted by the project, including both employees and customers.
  • Planning: Create the larger plan of action. You come up with key deliverables, deadlines, major risks or obstacles you may face, and you set a budget, among other details.
  • Execution and Monitoring: Ensure that your team members are motivated and complete the work identified in the project plan. Project management does require some people management skills, but only as it relates to creating a high-performing team and helping that team successfully complete the project at hand.


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The Hard Skills Required For the PM Role

You need a good understanding of basic project management concepts, methods, and tools that will help you make a reliable project plan, identify the stakeholders of your project, or manage the project risks.

More and more universities now offer project management courses, but you can also learn the basics by enrolling in online courses, listening to podcasts on the subject, and watching related webinars to keep up-to-date on any new developments.


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Getting Help

Reach out to project managers in your organization or those in your social circle for informational interviews.
You can ask:

  • How did you train as a project manager?
  • How do you keep your knowledge up to date? Are there specific courses you would recommend?
  • What are the most important things to pay attention to as a first-time project manager?
  • Do you have any other advice for me?


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The Soft Skills

In this role, you will need to learn to communicate well, actively listen to your colleagues and stakeholders and motivate your team.

Some of the skills you would need:

  • Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive your emotions and those of others.
  • Critical thinking is rational, logical thinking. It helps you identify the root causes for any given problem.
  • Decision-making is critical, too, as it can help you reason and select the best course of action.
  • Influence is the ability to inspire or persuade other people.


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Technical Know-How

You will also need to have a minimum understanding of the technical aspects involved in the project. For example, if you’re implementing a new HR application, you must take the time to comprehend some of the technical aspects of the software, like the phases of the development, the configuration tools, or how it is tested and integrated.

You don’t need to become an expert; a certain level of understanding will give you credibility with the team and the stakeholders.


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Companies With The Best Opportunities

You can find project management opportunities in all sorts of industries. But which one is good for you? Here are some questions you can ask during your interview to guide your decision:

  • Do you provide training/certifications to help your project managers build new skills?
  • Are project managers fully dedicated to projects, or does the role involve additional responsibilities?
  • What type of projects will I be working/managing: strategic, technology, customers, internal?
  • What is the usual scale of your projects — local, regional, global?
  • What is the usual size of the teams and what are the budgets?


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