There is an increasing demand for project managers in the current world as more and more companies opt for undertaking their projects from others thus requiring project managers with the relevant background, education and experience. Job openings are expected to increase in the IT industry to 17% in the decade starting from 2008.
A software project manager defines the requirements of the project, builds the project team, lays out a blue print for the whole project including the project scope and parameters, clearly communicates the goals of the project to the team; the targets to be achieved, allots budget to the various tasks to be completed, and ensures that the expectations of the Board of Directors and Stakeholders are met through timely completion of the project. This article discusses the roles and responsibilities of a project manager in a software company.
Roles of a Project Manager
A project manager must lead his team towards success. He should provide them direction and make them understand what is expected of them. Clearly explain the roles of each member of the team. He must build a team comprising of individuals with different skills so that each member contributes effectively to the best of their abilities.
The project manager is a link between his clients, his team and his own supervisors. He must coordinate and transfer all the relevant information from the clients to his team and report to the upper management. He should work closely with analysts, software designers and other staff members and communicate the goals of the project. He monitors the progress of the project, taking action accordingly.
He must be there to guide his team at every step and ensure that the team has cohesion. He provides advice to his team wherever they need it and points them in the right direction.
Responsibilities of a Project Manager
In order for a project to be successful and completed within a specified time the project manager for a software company must plan effectively. This also includes:
Scope: The project manager must clearly define the scope of the project and answer questions like, who is the customer? What need will the software satisfy? How will it be beneficial to others? What are the operational requirements for the project?
Activity Schedules: Making activity schedules and planning out the activities according o the time frame is extremely important. He must first list out the jobs to be done and then allot specific jobs to team members. For each job there are different tasks to be accomplished which must be clearly outlined. Identifying and specifying the critical activities of the project and then equally delegating the roles to each member of the team.
Gantt Chart: Once the activities and their different tasks have been outlined, he must list all the activities in a Gantt chart and allot time frames for their completion. This always helps in deciding deadlines for the various activities and also in refining the project plan as it moves along.
Potential Risks: He must plan for any hindrances that might occur during the course of the project. Risk management is an integral part of the project and ensures the presence of a backup plan. Some of the potential risks could be:
- Design variations
- Variations by the client
- Occurrence of dispute and fixing any discrepancies arising due to personal conflicts between the team members.
- Incomplete or inaccurate cost estimate
- He must be the one to take the decision of handling any free riders in the team and decide on how they are to be handled.
- If the project has been delayed then he must try to fix the gap brought about by the delay.
He must set measurable goals that should define the overall project’s objective.
For example: Complete the project within six months from start date in the budget of xxx amount.
It is concise, crisp and outlines the objective clearly.
Time estimation for the various activities is of major significance as it helps set the daily priorities of each team member. A project manager has to properly time all the activities for the completion of the project and also prepare for any delays in any of the activities.
Budget Allocation and Cost Estimates
Project manager must assign budgets to the various activities and make any cost considerations that there might be.
Implementation and Monitoring
Implementation of the project’s activities includes delegating different activities and ensuring their completion on time. Executing the plan of action and ensuring that it is monitored along the way is a key responsibility if his. A project manager must set out the project boundaries and scope for the project which them formulates itself into a plan of action and assists in successful completion of the project.