There are several components of project management that encompass the spectrum of project management. Right from the initial setting up of the project to the closure, each phase brings a new set of challenges and components to the art of project management. Specifically, the project manager has to manage the team and take bottom-line responsibility for the deliverables along with managing the stakeholders of the project.
If we take each of these components individually, the initial setting up of the project involves establishing procedures and processes for subsequent phases and defining the roles of the team members. In organisations that lay emphasis on processes, this phase is crucial to the success of the project. There are many organisations that subscribe to the SEI-CMM guidelines on processes and these organisations take measures to ensure that they are in tune with the guidelines.
Role of the Project Manager
There has been much debate about what the Project Manager can or cannot do. And the argument is also centred around on whether to take a proactive or a subdued approach towards the issues surrounding the management of the project. The proactive approach favours an interventionist and hands on approach that includes intervening in day to day affairs of the project.
This approach is manifested in the IT industry where the Project Manager is called upon to involve themselves in the technical aspects of the project that would include participating in design, coding and other activities. This phenomenon cannot be said to be restricted to the IT industry alone as there are several instances in the other sectors where the Project Manager has to get their hands dirty, literally and metaphorically.
There are organisations that define the role of the project manager clearly and delineate the roles and responsibilities. This usually happens in Matrix organisations where the structure of the organisation is such that there is lot of emphasis on clarity of the role. Thus, after a review of the literature, it would seem that there is no single answer to the question of whether the project manager has to be at the centre of the universe or like a conductor directing the symphony.
In this section, we look at the specifics of managing the stakeholders for the project. Any project has multiple stakeholders that need to be taken care. A stakeholder is someone who has either invested in the project and derives value from the outcome or a third party who contributes to the success and conversely to the failure of the project.
The first task before the Project Manager is to ensure that the stakeholders are clearly identified and then their roles and responsibilities demarcated and delineated. The task of identifying the stakeholders assumes importance as there should not be any confusion over who is a stakeholder and who is not. For instance, an IT project would have the stakeholders listed right from the systems and the network administrators to the client and the project sponsor. But, there might be other stakeholders like the staffing team who flit in and out of the project phases as and when they are required.
Thus, the need is to establish boundaries and identify the roles of the different stakeholders appropriately. Apart from this, the project manager must make it a point to ensure that stakeholders are categorised according to their importance and relevance to the project and the start of each phase accordingly.
Stakeholder satisfaction should be the bottom-line goal towards which the project managers must work to. Customer satisfaction and customer delight are some of the phrases that are used as an adjunct to good project management and its practice. Customer delight is achieved when one measures up to the needs of the customer and takes appropriate steps to ensure that they are met.