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Project Managers as Prime Movers

Project managers should be far more than Gantt chart jockeys and meeting schedulers. They are the force that makes a project successful.

Life is a series of projects that must be prioritized and managed—finances, family, vacations, chores. In that sense, we are all project managers. However, in a professional sense, project management is a much bigger cloud of responsibilities and activities that encompasses planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, closing out, and finding new projects.

According to the Project Management Institute, 11.4% of all resources are wasted due to inferior project management processes, and organizations that fail to properly integrate project management into their strategies see their project failure rate increase by a factor of two-thirds. So how do you avoid this inefficiency and failure? By focusing on your project managers as the prime movers of the project.

Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward – Woody Williams

While a project begins with a vision, it unfolds into numerous short- and long-term goals and requirements that necessitate multiple teams coming together to design and develop the product that meets the vision. The project manager brings together these teams and creates the bridge between the client and the teams and managing day-to-day business. A great idea would only remain an idea without the right project management to manage its successful execution. Regardless of this need, only 46% of organizations make project management a cultural priority — despite statistical proof that a mature project management process makes an organization far more likely to deliver on time and under budget. Below is what they’re missing.


Planning is instrumental in meeting project deadlines, and many projects fail due to poor planning. First and foremost, good project managers define the project’s scope and determine available resources. They know how to realistically set time estimates and evaluate the teams’ capabilities. They then create a clear and concise plan to both execute the project and monitor its progress. Projects are naturally unpredictable, so these project managers know how to adjust along the way as needed.


Clients usually judge a project’s success or failure on whether it has been delivered on time. Good project managers know how to set realistic deadlines, and how to communicate them consistently to their teams. They know how to effectively do the following:

  • Define activity
  • Sequence activity
  • Estimate the duration of activity
  • Develop a schedule
  • Maintain a schedule
  • Budgeting

Good project managers know how to keep a project within its set budget. Even if a project meets a client’s expectations and is delivered on time, it will still be seen as a failure if it goes wildly over budget. Project managers frequently review the budget and plan ahead to avoid massive budget overruns.


Final reports and proper documentation are essential for a project. Project managers should be able to present comprehensive reports documenting that all project requirements were fulfilled, as well as the projects’ history, including what was done, who was involved, and what could be done better in the future.

Risk Planning

The bigger the project is, the more likely there are to be hurdles and pitfalls that weren’t part of the initial plan. Hiccups are inevitable, but project managers should know how to meticulously and almost intuitively identify and evaluate potential risks before the project begins. They know how to then avoid risks or at least minimize their impact.


During the initial stages, project managers and their teams have a clear vision and high hopes of producing the desired result. However, the path to the finish line is never without some bumps along the way. When things don’t go according to a plan, a project manager needs to monitor and analyze both expenditures and team performance and to always efficiently take corrective measures.

Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

A project is only a success if the customer is happy. One of the key responsibilities of every project manager is to minimize uncertainty, avoid any unwanted surprises, and involve their clients in the project as much as is reasonably possible. Good project managers know how to maintain effective communication and keep the company’s clients up-to-date while keeping their eyes open for opportunities for more projects.

Finally, the project manager’s job isn’t complete with the completion of a project but with recognizing each project team member’s contribution towards the accomplishment. Project managers need to make sure to recognize the work of teammates. Rewards, recognition, and motivation are an oil change for project engines and so you need to do it regularly and often. After all, the ‘P’ in PM is as much about people management as it is about project management.

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Tanvi Dattani

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