A successful project is the result of a perfect organisation of activities, time and resources.

Who is the person in charge of this activity? Let’s start by clarifying the roles.

The Project Manager (or PM) is the person who is in charge of managing all the phases of a project, from the selection of dedicated resources to the planning of activities, from start to finish. Several PMs may co-exist in a company, as many as there are active projects.

In more complex structures, there is also the figure of the PMO, which stands for Project Management Office: this is a strategic team that defines business processes, methodologies and relationships between different teams and projects. It standardises and optimises workloads by identifying common tasks in project implementation.

So what is the difference between PM and PMO?

In a nutshell, it’s the scale on which the different figures work: the Project Manager deals with individual projects, while PMOs have corporate objectives, based mainly on the scalability of processes (starting with small processes and then moving on to macro ones).

In this article we focus on the Project Manager figure: discover our tips on how to fit perfectly into this role!

1. Improving communication skills

The project manager is always in contact with people: he has to be a charismatic person, able to listen and be easily understood. The importance of his communication skills is therefore undeniable.

The result is supported by several studies, such as the PricewaterhouseCooper study shown in the graph below: teams that include a PM with efficient communication skills deliver more projects on time, without going over budget.

Source: PricewaterhouseCooper

2. Base decisions on data

A successful project manager continuously analyses data, especially when it measures the amount of time needed to complete different tasks and the criticality of some of them. This makes it possible to always have a clear view of priorities and timelines, and to allocate tasks to the right resources.

3. Define and optimise work processes

Standardising every project can be difficult, but common methodologies can make everyone’s work more efficient. Their creation is based (once again) on the work history data’s analysis, which helps to optimise processes over time by exploiting the team’s strengths and by limiting criticalities.

The key words are observation and flexibility. Unforeseen events are part of the work: the project manager must anticipate them, detect them immediately and find solutions as quickly as possible.

4. Include an expert when necessary

There is no such thing as a know-it-all, especially in highly competitive industries. It’s up to the project manager to realise when the skills of his team are no longer sufficient for the success of a project.

Finding the right expert and making him/her part of the workflow becomes a competitive advantage, especially if critical issues are identified at the early planning stage.

“Deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what TO do” – Steve Jobs

5. Learn to say no

Especially when it comes to small companies, it’s necessary to know when to stop and not accept new customers or orders. To some extent this is also a project manager’s task, as it’s his job to analyse time and resources in order to assess the feasibility of a project.

In brief, what are the qualities of a successful project manager? Organisation, charisma and the ability to analyse: every improvement in these areas is a plus for every project!

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