One of the most surprising (to us at least) and frequently asked questions is, “What does a project manager do?”

To best answer that here are some examples of what a project might be:

  • The construction of a new bridge on the highway
  • Creating a new release of Microsoft Windows
  • The planning and execution of a successful wedding event
  • Creating and passing a new school budget
  • The building of a website

What a project is NOT is:

  • day to day activities, such as customer service or accounting

A project manager would then be the person who orchestrates the activities of the project. They are the director of the show, so to speak. They ensure resources are in place to accomplish the project objective, they plan how the project will go from its timing of key milestones to its costs to delivery to the customer. They track its progress and take corrective action as needed to get it back on track. They communicate status to those involved including the project’s sponsor (in show biz terms the project sponsor would be the producer). They also tend to be the fall guy when things go awry. Which is why we project managers have developed thick skins!

Below are the four main components common to any project:

  • Projects are unique.
  • Projects are temporary in nature and have a definite beginning and ending date.
  • Projects are completed when the project goals are achieved or it’s determined the project is no longer viable.
  • A successful project is one that meets or exceeds the expectations of your stakeholders.