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What does a project manager do?

The project manager is responsible for day-to-day management of the project and must be competent in managing the six aspects of a project, i.e. scope, schedule, finance, risk, quality and resources

Project managers work on specific projects that have definite outcomes, have time limits and have to stay within a budget. These tasks typically include:

  • planning what work needs to be done, when and who’s going to do it;
  • looking at the risks involved in a particular project and managing these risks;
  • making sure the work is done to the right standard;
  • motivating the team of people involved in the project;
  • making sure the project is running on time and to budget;
  • dealing with changes to the project as and when necessary;
  • making sure the project delivers the expected outcomes and benefits;
Modern Project Professional Must Be Able To
Modern Project Professionals Need To

What skills does a project manager need?

There are a whole range of skills you need to be a successful project manager, and they’re not necessarily all technical. They may be skills you already use in your day to day life as well as being job-specific abilities developed through education and training.

We call these soft skills and hard skills, which can range from leadership, being able to motivate and encourage others, have good communication and decision making abilities, to managing risk, budgeting and project planning.

Project management skills are transferable from one industry to another. The tools and techniques of project management are universal and a good project manager should be able to add value in any environment.

It is important to have the right balance and combination of the various skills needed to be a successful project manager, as explored within this blog.

What project management roles can I choose from?

Use our example role profiles to help focus on relevant competences. The profiles are pitched at different levels and give a general overview of the role and typical responsibilities. In many cases the profiles will share common competences.

This can be useful in identifying learning and development opportunities. There is also scope to develop and adapt the profiles to the specific needs of your organisation.

Some of the more common job titles are listed below complete with a brief explanation.

Role profiles

What can projects deliver?

Project Manager (Entry)

This role profile applies to project managers operating at entry level. At this level, a project manager can apply project management knowledge when they participate in a project in any capacity and common knowledge is not sufficient to perform at a satisfactory level of competence.

Portfolio Manager (Intermediate)

This role profile applies to portfolio managers operating at intermediate level. At this level, a portfolio manager can lead a portfolio with limited complexity or assist on a complex portfolio, following the appropriate governance applied, monitoring and reporting on the portfolio to several stakeholder groups, and bringing people together to achieve specified outcomes in line with strategic objectives.

PMO Administrator

This role profile applies to PMO administrators. At this level, a PMO administrator will provide support to the project, programme, or portfolio team through administrative and reporting activities.

Programme Manager (Intermediate)

This role profile applies to programme managers operating at intermediate level. At this level, a programme manager can typically lead a programme of limited complexity or assist on a complex programme, following the appropriate governance applied for the determined life cycle.

A day in the life of a project manager

Spencer is a project manager in the engineering/construction sector.

"I’ve been a project manager for nearly 10 years, and started the role a little further into my working life than others (I was previously a people manager).

I remember when I first had the idea of a career change. I got together with some old friends to organise and reform my old rugby team. Turns out I needed a lot of planning and organisation skills to make this happen. It made me think: I’m good at this, and I enjoy it; could it become my career?"

Read full case study
Spencer Hobbs.jpg
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Why choose project management?

A career as a project manager can be exciting, varied, fulfilling, and productive. There are great career prospects for project managers.

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How to become a project manager

There are many routes to becoming a project manager, from gaining a qualification, to working your way up on the job.

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