What is a Project Manager?

Above all, a project manager oversees the logistical aspects of the product development process. They differ from product managers in that they oversee the execution of plans. Plans that have already developed and approved. Unlike product managers, they are generally less focused on high-level goals and strategy. Instead, a project manager focuses on tangible things like budget, resources, and personnel.

What is a Project Manager’s Job Description?

Project managers are responsible for the execution of an initiative. First, they are responsible for the earliest stages of ideation. Then their responsibilities lie in coordinating components and budget. Finally, they manage these components through to its final delivery. But PMs aren’t involved in deciding which projects to pursue. Nor do they directly manage most of the resources involved in execution. However, the success of the implementation and delivery ultimately lies with them.

PMs will set the schedule and project roadmap. After all, they need to ensure all deliverables, including documentation, are ready for each phase. Additionally, they must keep stakeholders informed on the current status, including any scheduling impacts of budgetary changes. They will often assign specific resources to particular tasks. In this instance, project managers can do this directly. But often, they do this via coordination with other people’s managers.

Next, they will conduct regular meetings to review progress with the implementation team. Namely, to escalate any issues that might impact delivery. It is a highly cross-functional role. Product management involves interactions and collaboration with many parts of the organization. Thus commonly including marketing, product management, engineering, quality assurance, finance, and operations.

What are a Project Manager’s Main Responsibilities?

Main responsibilities of a Project Manager include:

  • Defining and setting the project scope
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Estimating costs and developing a budget
  • Resource assignment and management
  • Vendor coordination
  • Status updates and issue escalation
  • Securing stakeholder approval for key changes and approvals
  • Risk analysis

How do you become a Project Manager?

There’s no single path to becoming a project manager. However, many have an engineering or operations background. But this doesn’t mean you must be technical to become a project manager.

Attention to detail and strong communication skills are essential. So is a generalized business sense and negotiation skills. Again, the role doesn’t need a technical background. However, a project manager must have a baseline understanding. They must understand the common tasks and steps of the product development process.
[Free report] 2021 State of Product Management ➜

What KPIs are Important for the Project Manager Role?

Success is measured by a project manager’s ability to deliver projects on-time and under budget. Quality is sometimes part of the mix. With that in mind, typical  KPIs may include:

On-time completion percentage.

How often are projects delivered by their deadline to measure reliability?

Number of schedule adjustments.

Was planning accurate? As schedule changes are disruptive. Changes indicate a lack of attention to detail during the earlier phases of a deliverable.

Resource utilization.

Were people efficiently deployed for each project? No one wants to pay staff to be idle.

Budget variance.

How closely did the planned cost of the project compare to the final result? Ensure project managers are correctly estimating what’s involved and how well they can stick to the plan.

Error counts or customer complaints.

Error counts or customer complaints measure the quality of the work delivered and the impact any faults have on the customer experience.

Change request volume.

How closely did the implementation stick to the original plan? A change in request volume measures the accuracy of the scoping process and the comprehension of requirements.

Milestone success rate.

Did the project hit particular key dates during its lifecycle and meet its acceptance criteria?