Project Manager: roles and responsibilities

   You’ve finalized tons of projects. You’ve faced many times the challenge of searching for a proper partner. Your team is a minefield and you never know what will be the after-effects of their actions.

   These are the trivial obstacles you come across while shaping your distributed teams. So, let’s analyze one of the most important and most underestimated positions of such team - the Project Manager.  

 

Who is he/she for the Product Owner?

   The Product Owner thinks he’s the one who will be the first in the firing line. That’s what he also expects:

He’s available 24/7 ready to address any queries which may arise. He provides for the seamless elaboration of your project. He has to use all his managerial skills to ensure that your idea of the project will be implemented as close to your vision as possible. Also:

  • discusses and records all the requirements and tasks with the Product Owner;
  • prioritizes them;
  • informs him of the project’s development;
  • maintains constant communication and feedback between him and scrum-team throughout of the project;
  • ensures timely fulfillment of tasks;
  • notifies all team members involved in the process of any changes;
  • builds up confident relationship, manages expectations;
  • demonstrates the Product Owner the functionalities of the project, its versions and prototypes;

 

Who is he/she for the scrum-team?

1. If he’s one of them and has a technical background (ex-UX/UI designer, for example):

  • he’s respected by the scrum-team members;
  • all technical details will be conveyed correctly to the team;
  • the team may cope without the team-lead with such PM at hand;

Drawbacks:

  •  he may lack managerial skills and be too tempted to plunge into technical details himself thus loosening the control over the project;

 

2. If he is a manager with no tech background;

  • He demonstrates strong managerial skills;

Drawbacks:

  • he may have difficulties with some tech details yet if he has an additional assistant which would cope with the tech part, together they’ll be Ok with the project;

 

Anyway that’s what he does for the scrum-team:

  • hires the team for the project, educates it and tries to maintain;
  • fosters good relations within the team;
  • motivates it;
  • anticipates needs and problems;
  • organizes the process: elaborates, tests and works with requirements;
  • discusses any bottlenecks they come across;
  • decides on stand-ups during the project for discussing how the progress is going on;
  • he is open to other points of view;
  • he is inspiring;
  • he is proactive and energetic;
  • delegates responsibilities firmly;
  • offers a plan instead of making a complaint;
  • he respects his team members and their input in the project.

 

What does the Project Manager thinks of his role?

   He’s not a universal soldier. Or at least he shouldn’t be. Ideally it’s a person having some technical background as a tech or team lead, QA, UX-projector and possessing some soft skills. Ideally, but not necessarily. The main skill he must demonstrate is the ability to build up a comfortable process of working over project with a team within the allocated budget, terms and quality approved.  

 

For the success of the project, you should keep in mind that contact between the project and the customer is very important. It can not be PM's crush, love must be mutual. A project manager is self-motivated by the idea of the project. If the idea is close, there is a personal interest and belief in the future of this project - PM will be laid out 100%. Whatever they say, we are also people. Therefore, keep from contacting your PM at weekends, respect what he / she does, we have to equilibrate between the team and the client.

 

 

 

What can you expect him to do for the product?

   If it’s your own Project Manager for your in-house fix-price product:

  • PM must be aware of larger goals of the company and integrate the smaller objectives of the project into them;
  • PM makes up a plan of product’s elaboration and launch;
  • PM breaks down larger tasks into sub-tasks;
  • PM controls task fulfillment and makes risk analysis;
  • PM provides for quality control;
  • PM finds a solution instead of making a complaint;
  • PM ensures profitability;
  • PM decides how to track and measure the progress throughout the project;
  • PM chooses how to measure the success;
  • PM keeps documentation and reports;
  • PM exercises control over versions;  
  • PM ensures that business goals of the Product Owner are met within the set terms;
  • PM builds up confident relations between the team and the Product Owner;
  • PM makes a retrospective overview of the project when everything is done. If the project spans for a few months, divides it in stages and makes several retrospectives along the way.

 

You out-source the Project Manager for your product if:

  • you have too many extra projects;
  • the project is atypical for your company;
  • the project has a paramount importance and it has a tight timeline;
  • the project is too complicated and you don’t have specialists of such level;
  • you want to upgrade your team and thus you expect the PM to train them;
  • you want to benefit from the experience you got working with the PM over non-standard projects and you also have project documentation, manuals, financial accounts, acts, and other documents left after the project is finalized;
  • you expect him to take some anti-crisis measurements in case of loss of the project;
  • you hope for his handing over the MVP to the Product Owner in time which will raise the chance of project for realization.

 

What you can’t demand for the outsourced Project Manager:

  • you can’t expect your team to be enthusiastic about the outsourced PM. That’s why you need to organize the meeting of the scrum-team with the PM and make clear to each other why they need to collaborate so much;
  • if the product is too rare or specific you can’t expect the PM to plunge too deeply in it. You’d better divide the administrative and expert functions and hire the expert of this product as an assistant to your PM;
  • if the product is too large or needs too much time you can’t expect the PM to cope with it alone, you will need one or more professional administrators which can be also outsourced;

 

 

 

You can’t expect the project manager to read your mind. Make sure he/her understands you well as he’s the one who will transfer your ideas to the team. Talk to him/her, share your impressions of your work and meet him/her one-to-one now and then. The PM’s growth is for your benefit.

 

Project Manager & Product Manager in one:

   It may seem logical but it doesn’t. Yes, Product Manager can sometimes function as a Project Manager. The Product Manager has a birds-view vision of the product’s development so it seems that he won’t have any problems to divide its elaboration into stages. Yet it’s a titanic labor and if it’s possible, avoid mixing these two roles.

 

                                                       

 

   It can work out for start-ups at early stages but you will stumble upon some evident problems. The main focus of the Product manager will shift from the strategy and clients to operational work, coordination of the team, reports, etc. It will result in conflict of interest of clients’ needs and elaboration technologies. He will have to develop overall strategy and spend loads of time for daily analysis of current problems and customers’ requests. And in some time he will understand he can fulfill neither of the tasks properly.

 

Moreover, there are cases when it’s strongly inadvisable, such as:

  • it’s a large-scale project;
  • too many departments and customers are engaged;
  • you need to coordinate two and more scrum-teams;
  • the delivery period is too long;
  • the geography involved is too broad.

 

   That’s when the product requires both Project and Product Managers as separate specialists. If you’ve read the article that far you know already that the Project Manager is a must for any project and the one who will really take care of it. If you’ve left the article half-way it means you’re already rushing to find the right PM for your company.

Stop for a sec and give us a note at … and we’ll try to solve your problem.  



 

 

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