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What is Project Management? And What Does a Project Manager Do?

Project manager

The demand for project managers is growing throughout many industries: healthcare, finance, IT, etc. It's great to know that there is a major need for project managers, but what does a project manager actually do?

What does a project manager do?

A project manager handles all these aspects of the project. From getting issues resolved and getting problems out of the way of the project team. They don't only focus on the goal, but the process to get to that end goal.

People often confuse daily work as projects. That's just doing your job. Project management has a few characteristics that distinguish it from your daily routine. These qualities include:

  • Creating a project timeline from start to finish
  • Defining and communicating the goals of the project
  • Getting the right people involved
  • Managing the time, people, and budget

When you are a a project manager, you run the team like a symphony conductor. You don’t do all the work, but you coordinate the team members' activities.

The "symphony" is the team of people the project manager assembles. Much like a conductor makes sure that the right musicians are playing the right instruments, the project manager makes sure the right team members are on the right project completing the right tasks.

Who can benefit from project management skills?

Anybody! It doesn't matter what kind of work you do right now. You can use the basic principles of project management to benefit your job performance and how you work with others on your current team. You can gain experience in project management everywhere--at work, or at home with any kind of project!

By planning out projects, you're going to be better off than powering through the work without a road map. However, it is helpful to have a sense of humor and the ability to be flexible.

What traits do you need to be a good project manager?

Some people realize they are natural project managers working as a team member. They realize that they enjoy keeping track of deadlines, resources, and tasks.  You can also learn to be a project manager. A masters in project management program will teach important skills such as organization and how to say no when people want to add to the project. Either way, there will be some point in your life where you will either have to lead or be part of a "project."

Can you give me an example?

A great example of project management is hiring a contractor to remodel a kitchen. After discussing how much you want to spend with the contractor, they may come in and say, "Let's add a faucet! Let's replace the floor. What about your cabinets? They can be updated but it will cost you more money and take more time."

As the project manager of the remodel, you have two options: say no to the contractor working for you or change. Naturally, you would look at your budget and timeline. You will consider the options the contractor has given you. But, like a project manager, you will make a decision based on the ultimate goal of the project.

Having a master's in project management can help you advance or change your career because it works for any field, organization, and any job. Potential employers or managers at your current job will recognize your ability to understand, start, manage, and finish projects.

Click here to download M.S. Undecided:  a guide to select the right graduate program