There is no doubt that the project manager’s role is a lot like spinning plates while riding a bike; keeping one eye on the customer and the other firmly on the supplier – all the while making sure the project is heading in the right direction towards its goal.
Getting the mix of keeping everyone involved happy while not compromising the project is a tough balance to make, requiring different traits to handle each type of party involved.
When it comes to dealing with the customer; the project manager requires the logic-filled inquiry of Sherlock Holmes to deduce what the customer really is looking for, while exploring the possibilities to take to their development team. This needs to be balanced with an advanced ability to respond to questioning in a cool, calm and concise manner which the customer will understand and quell any fears or doubts they may have.
Project managers who have received PRINCE2 Training are given the exploration tools to help them delve deep into the project, no matter the scale, helping them find who is at the heart of the project so they can quickly identify the decision makers and ask them, and themselves, necessary but sometimes hard questions. Such as: where are the funds coming from? Where will the resources be provided from? What specialist skills are needed?
Most importantly, they need to find the limits to their own authority, agreed with the client so that they receive the most effective, efficient and structured end product possible under all constraints, may they be financial, resource based or time related.
When it comes to the organisation of the project itself, a level of flexibility must be factored in – which must include flexibility from the people directly involved in the project. Building a multi-skilled team is a must – they need to be able to balance multiple projects and apply their skills to any projects’ wide scope.
Knowing your control over each resource is key to the project’s success. Finding exactly where you fit in within the project team’s structure is also essential.
You may be leading a collection of different teams, each with their own priorities and managers that report to you, or you may be working directly with a handful of employees – either way, you have to know how to use them as resources which can complete the task at hand to the highest level possible.