“How to become a project manager?”
Many people approach me with this question, wanting me to give them a simple answer. I can sense that youngsters are quite keen to start a career in project management, which is a really positive sign for the industry.
Being the founder and CEO of ProofHub – a project management software designed to make life easier for project managers, I believe I am the right person to answer these questions. In this post, I’ve tried to answer all the common questions that pop into the head of someone who is looking to tread the path of project management.
If you too are looking for an answer to this question, I’ve got it covered for you.
So, let us begin.
Table of Contents
- What is a Project Manager?
- Project Manager: What Are Some Skills Associated With The Profession?
- Project Manager: Duties
- Is Becoming A Project Manager A Good Career Choice?
- Is It Easy To Become A Project Manager?
- How To Become A Project Manager?
- How Much Do Project Managers Make?
- Tips For Project Managers
- Tools for Project Managers
- ProofHub is the all-in-one tool for project managers!
What is a Project Manager?
To answer this question, I’d like to create an analogy with an orchestra of musicians. In order for the symphony to be mesmerizing, you need the Conductor to set the overall tempo and shape of the sound that is going to be created by the ensemble cast of musicians. If the conductor at some point during the performance loses control over the ensemble, it is going to be a completely messed up performance.
Now, a Project Manager is the Conductor of the project. He or she is responsible for the overall performance of the team, the planning that is put into the project and the final outcome. If at any point during the project’s progress, the manager loses control over the project, the chances of it turning out to be successful are minimized.
In short, it is the responsibility of the project manager to make sure that all people working on a project are working together harmoniously, and following their timelines with a clear understanding of what needs to be done.
If we talk about the formal definition of the term project manager, it would be the person responsible for planning, procurement and seamless execution of a project.
Now that we have looked at the definition of a project manager, it is time we look at the major skills that a project manager must possess:
Project Manager: What Are Some Skills Associated With The Profession?
Management, no matter which industry we talk about, is all about handling people and resources. And project management is no different. For you to become a successful project manager, it is imperative that you have strong people skills. Since a big part of your job would involve getting people to not just do things but do them right, it is important to possess man management skills.
For a project manager to become successful as a leader, good communication skills are a must. Why? Because a project manager is the person responsible for bringing the team together and keeping them motivated towards achieving a unified goal, and this is possible only when you are able to communicate clearly, effectively and confidently.
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There can be times when teams get stuck in a rut and cannot move forward. Perhaps a deadline was missed and it led to the entire project getting derailed. Under such circumstances it is a project manager who has to keep the team motivated and in high spirits. This is where leadership skills come into the picture. Not only during tough times, but eventually at every step of the project a team needs a guide who can lead them and steer towards success.
Problem solving is a crucial skill that a project manager cannot do without. Spearheading a project means that you have to deal with the problems that are going to come along the way. These problems generally include bottlenecks that might be causing a delay in the execution of the project or things not coming out eventually the way you intended them to. In all these situations a leader’s problem solving attitude and aptitude, both, gain prominence.
A project manager has to ensure that a smooth flow of information is maintained within the team. This information includes everything from project plan to client expectations and requirements, all of which needs to be documented. Hence good writing skills become an inseparable part of the skillset of a project manager. Poor writing skills could lead to unclear information sharing and eventually lead to irreparable damage on the project, which no project manager can afford to have.
As you can see from the list, a project manager must possess a vast skill set in order to become successful. If you are planning to start a career as a project manager, it is important that you either possess these skills or start working out on you will inculcate them in your repertoire.
As it is evident from what’s mentioned above, a project manager must possess a number of important skills to carry out his or her duties smoothly.
What are those duties? Let’s find out:
Project Manager: Duties
It is the responsibility of a project manager to carry out the project from its initiation stage to execution and finally completion. And the most important aspect that plays a vital role throughout this process is project planning. Hence the first responsibility that lies on the shoulders of a project manager is Project Planning.
This generally includes everything starting from defining the scope of the project to identifying the availability of resources and forecasting realistic timeline based on the capability of the team.
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Time and money are the two variables that define the success of a project. And the second one depends directly on how well you are at managing the first one. Since a project manager is the person who has to ensure everything is on the right track to ensure project success, time management becomes the second major responsibility for a project manager.
From setting realistic time frames for completing tasks to setting deadlines that are achievable and ensuring that they are being achieved – everything falls within the job duties of a project manager.
Working on a project is a collective effort where every team member is a subject matter expert and is accountable for their moves. However, which move might work and which might not, a project manager has to assess the risk and take decisions accordingly.
Timely assessment of risk gives you an opportunity to take the necessary steps before the damage is done, which is imperative for the success of a project. Although there are a number of risk management tools available in the market that can help project managers with risk assessment, at the end of the day the judgement has to come from a human i.e. the project manager and not the software.
There are certain quality parameters that every project must meet in order for it to be deemed successful. Now it is the duty of a project manager to oversee the execution of the project and ensure that the quality guidelines are being met.
By setting the right expectations and clearly jotting down the requirements and guidelines that must be followed while performing the tasks, a project manager needs to eventually make sure that the highest quality is maintained by the team in every task.
Reporting and Analysis
The duties of a project manager are not over as soon as the project is completed. What went wrong? What was done right? Is there any scope of improvement? What were the challenges faced during the execution phase?
A project manager’s job is also to perform the post-mortem of the project and pen down the necessary learning from the project. It is through this analysis of the project that you can figure out the scope of improvement and work on those aspects in future projects.
Summing up the duties of a project manager in one small list is impossible, since they are the professionals who have to take care of every aspect of the project. However, the ones that I’ve mentioned above are the most basic duties that they have to shoulder.
Moving further, let’s focus on whether it is a smart idea to build a career in the field of project management or not.
Is Becoming A Project Manager A Good Career Choice?
Project Manager – doesn’t that title sound fancy? It certainly does to many!!!
However, apart from the fancy title, there are a number of reasons that make project management an ideal career choice for someone who is looking to achieve great heights of success in his or her career. What are those reasons? Let us have a look at those:
Project Managers Will Never Run Out Of Job Opportunities
One of the first things that make becoming a project manager a great career choice is the fact that it is a field with the maximum number of job opportunities in the future. According to the Project Management Institute there’s going to be a surge in job opportunities in project management, with expected numbers to reach up to 22 million by 2027.
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Project Managers Are Required Everywhere
Another great aspect of becoming a project manager is that you can have career opportunities in diverse industries. Starting from Oil & Gas to Finance, Information Technology to Construction, project managers are required everywhere. Therefore, you will not have to worry about being stuck in a rut, rather you can try your hands in diverse industries and grow exponentially.
Project Managers Earn BIG
The biggest reason why project management seems a lucrative career choice is because it pays well. Project managers are amongst the most well-paid professionals in a company, earning handsome salaries. Being a project manager, therefore, not only means that you have a fancy title, it also means that you are well on your way to build a fancy life for yourself.
Looking at all these factors, it can be quite easy to understand why becoming a project manager has emerged as such a popular choice amongst professionals. Now, another common question that is associated with becoming one is how easy it is to become a project manager?
Is It Easy To Become A Project Manager?
The answer to this question can depend upon how much interest you have in this field. If you want to become a project manager just because the title is fancy and it is a well-paying career option (but you are not willing to put in all the hard work required), it’s going to be an uphill battle. On the other hand, if you really enjoy leading people and possess all the skills mentioned above, becoming a project manager would be easy for you.
19 Online Project Management Courses to Accelerate Career Growth
Useful Online Resources for Project Managers
How To Become A Project Manager?
Although there is no guidebook that says you need to hold a certain certification to become a project manager, it is important to have one if you want to establish yourself as a credible project manager.
In fact, there is a popular term used in the industry – Accidental Project Manager – someone who is handling the role and responsibilities of a project manager, without having been hired specifically for the same. For such professionals it can be quite overwhelming to carry out tasks like creating a thoroughly prepared project scope, manage communications effectively and mitigate risks. This is where being a certified project manager comes into the picture.
There are a number of different certifications available, you have to decide which one to go for if you don’t want to get stuck being an accidental project manager throughout your career. But before you go for a certification, here are some of the things that you need to consider:
- The industry you want to enter: you must check which certification is most common in the industry that you want to enter. Go through the job descriptions to get a more clear idea of the same, and then make up your mind.
- The time and money: the second important thing that will play a role in your choice will be the time and money you need to invest in order to get certified.
- The processes that your company follows (in case you are a working professional): you might also want to consider the processes that your company follows, in case you are looking to grow into the role of a project manager in the organization where you work.
Here is a list of the most popular certifications in project management:
CAMP stands for Certified Associate in Project Management. It is an entry level certification that is offered by the Project Management Institute. Doing so will help lay the foundation of project management so that you can further progress in the field by doing higher certifications. Here is the official link to the PMI website where you can visit to know more about CAMP certification.
An acronym for Projects In Controlled Environments, PRINCE2 focuses on general project management. It is generally recommended to people who are at an early stage in their project management career. PRINCE2 helps students learn about the best practices employed for each stage of the project. Here’s the official link to the website where you can get to know all about the certification. Since there are different PRINCE2 Qualifications, you can get to know more about them here.
PMP stands for Project Management Professional, a certification that is offered by the leading organization for project management professionals i.e. Project Management Institute. One of the most popular certifications for project management professionals, it is specifically aimed for people who already have prior project management experience.
One of the most important things that I want to highlight here is that professionals with PMP certification are reported to have more than 23% higher salaries than professionals who don’t have one. To know more about the certification, you can visit the official PMI website here. To give you an idea of the popularity of PMP certification, I’d like to mention here that there are more than 1,000,000 PMP certification holders all across the world.
Besides the ones mentioned above, there are a number of other certifications as well that you can choose from, which include Agile Certifications, Certified Scrum Master and more. You can pick according to your interest and the various other factors that I have discussed above.
How Much Do Project Managers Make?
According to Salary.com, the salary range for Project Managers lies somewhere between $122,643 and $154,224. However, these numbers can vary according to the stage of career that you are in, geographic location and various other factors. As a matter of fact, the industry in which they are working in also directly impacts the salary of project managers. However, it is worth noting that the salary range for project management professionals are always on the higher side, since it is a highly valued role in organizations.
Tips For Project Managers
Now that you have decided to become part of the project management industry, it is important that you also have an in-depth understanding of what it takes to become a successful project manager. So, here are some tips that are going to help you:
Get To Know The Project – Inside Out!
One of the foremost things that you need to know before you begin with a project is the requirements. These requirements encompass everything from the client’s expectations to the resources you have at hand, and the expected timeline in which it should be delivered. Based on all these factors you can create a plan and know about the feasibility of the project.
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Get To Know Your Team
The second important tip (not many people are going to tell you) to become a successful project manager is to know the team that you are going to handle. It is imperative that you have a clear idea of the skill and working style of people who are working with you. Based on that you can allocate the work, plan out the small details of the project execution and then move the project forward towards a successful completion.
Always Have A Plan B (And Assessment Of The Risks)
The job of a project manager is not easy. You need to always be on your toes. And, as important it is to have a plan to begin with, it is equally important to assess all the risks that might come in your way, and derail the project. Therefore, it is always recommended to always have a plan B in mind, just in case things start to slip through the cracks (at some point during the execution phase).
Leverage The Latest Technology
The life of project managers has been simplified quite a lot with the rise of latest technology like Project Management Software. Compared to the old times, project managers now no longer need to rely on just emails to manage their teams or projects. Neither do they need to juggle between a number of different tools to carry out task management, time tracking or communications.
There are project management software like ProofHub that offer an all-in-one solution for managing projects, handling teams, communications, time tracking and even reporting. As a project manager, you need to stick to the latest technology for your team, so that they don’t have to face any struggle staying updated on latest developments in the projects or keeping a check on what they are supposed to do in a project.
Here is a list of project management tools that are imperative for a project manager to have to carry out his or her work duties smoothly:
Tools for Project Managers
Workflows and kanban boards
To define work processes and to make sure that the teams they are leading follow their processes, workflows are of utmost importance. Kanban boards work as a great tool for creating custom workflows, where the manager can define the stages through which specific tasks have to go through until their completion. By assigning individuals to these specific stages, you as a project manager can eventually bring clarity in the process, everyone gets to know what they are supposed to do, and how the task is moving forward.
For simple projects, to-do lists are a great tool that allows project managers to assign tasks to their team members. Instead of using emails for the same, which are too time consuming, these to-do lists give you a centralized place to not only assign tasks, but also define deadlines, so that you can make your team members more accountable.
This is another tool that is irreplaceable in the life of a project manager, as it aids in planning their projects. Gantt charts provide a visual timeline of the project, and also show task dependencies so that you can figure out how tasks in a project are interrelated, and take the necessary steps required to maintain the project right on track.
You need to have a tool that brings all your communications under a single roof so that there is no confusion while handling multiple team members. With the help of a chat tool, you can carry out one-to-one casual conversations or communicate in groups to discuss work, share files and do a lot more.
Online collaboration tool
To save managers from wasting time conducting those long meetings, you need to have a dedicated space to carry out real-time discussions virtually. This way you can simply get your team together, and start collaborating together, no matter if you are working from the same office premise or working with a distributed team.
A big chunk of a project manager’s day goes in reviewing files, especially when working on creative projects. Online proofing simplifies the way you review files. Instead of juggling through emails back and forth, you can share files using an online proofing tool and add people to review the file. They can share their feedback using comments, and even suggest changes in the file using the powerful markup tools. You don’t really have to play the email volleyball back and forth to get the creative work approved.
Timer and timesheets
To help project managers track the amount of time working on tasks, a timer app is imperative. Using the timer app you can measure the time spent working on tasks, or can be used directly for invoicing and billing purposes.
With the help of a reporting tool, managers can manage their resources and project efficiently. After all, these tools give them a clear picture of how their resources are performing, the areas that need to be worked upon and so on.
There is a lot of information sharing happening between team members and the manager, as well as the manager and the client. To keep the process streamlined, it is a must to have a powerful file sharing and management tool that brings everything together at a central place. The tool not only allows you to store and share all your data, but also helps you easily collaborate over the files whenever required. And, this is one of the most important aspects of working as a project manager.
ProofHub is the all-in-one tool for project managers!
Although there are virtually countless standalone tools available in the market for all the activities mentioned above, ProofHub is the one tool that stands out. As an all-in-one project management and team collaboration software that simplifies the life of project managers. This powerful tool comes with a list of features that can help a project manager stay in ultimate control of projects, tasks, teams and communications. Whether you are new in the field of project management or a seasoned project manager, ProofHub is a must have.
Some of the features that you get in this project management and team collaboration software include:
- Flexible task management (To-do lists as well as Custom workflows and kanban boards)
- Gantt charts
- Online proofing tool
- File sharing
- In-built chat app
- Custom reports
- A dedicated space for real-time collaboration
- Third-party integrations
- In-built timer and timesheets
- Custom roles
- Multiple languages
And a lot more!!!
For information on our pricing plans, kindly visit our pricing page.
“Want to climb the ladder of success and become a great project manager? Try ProofHub.”
Coming to concluding this post, I’ve tried to put all the basic information that anyone would like to possess before starting the journey to become a project manager. If you are keen to make a career in this field, I’d advise you to begin early and focus on learning the skills part first and then going for the certification.
All the best!
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