What is the role of a project manager?

Key Takeaways
Project managers have a lot on their plate, from looking over deadlines to making sure everyone on the team stays motivated from start to finish.

Is your business scaling? Congrats. Reaching that next shiny new level of business growth is a huge accomplishment.

But, hold up. Scaling is great and all. But if you don’t do it right, your business will suffer. The grey hairs will sprout. Disaster follows!

It’s not all doom and gloom. That is, if you have a project manager at the helm of the business growth ship.

What?! You don’t have a project manager! Or even know what one is!

Let’s fix all that. Keep on scrolling to learn what a project manager is, what they do, and how to become one.

Project planning and the pros who do it.

Knowing what a project manager does will help you find the right one for your business. Most projects require management from the first stage onward to succeed. And a project manager is responsible for seeing projects through from start to finish.

A project manager is responsible for project management processes, such as:

  • Planning
  • Monitoring
  • Executing
  • Controlling
  • Accounting

Every company needs project managers to ensure that jobs are smoothly managed. Project manager make a huge difference between the success or failure of a project.

So, what is the role of the project manager? What are some key project management responsibilities you should know?

First, let’s dive deep into what project management roles are.

What is the Role of a Project Manager?

the role of a project manager
The project manager ensures the project objectives are met.

A project management career carries a lot of responsibilities. A typical project manager job description includes:

  • Planning deliverables and milestone schedules
  • Designating project resources
  • Preparing budgets
  • Monitoring progress
  • Communicating with investors and key stakeholders
  • Delivering milestones

Although that list isn’t exhaustive.

Some of the most successful project managers have obtained Agile project management certifications and are capable of waterfall project management. These in-demand candidates can work effectively on different projects, including marketing, construction, HR, and software development projects.

Project managers work with all levels of an organization — from business executives and senior managers to individual employees. They also work with external stakeholders such as suppliers, subcontractors, and clients. Therefore, they need to have strong organizational and problem-solving skills.

A project manager is responsible for coordinating multiple activities and ensuring that each activity is completed on time, within budget, and with the necessary quality. They need support from senior management, without which projects may fail.

Project managers will:

  • Create a project management plan
  • Assign responsibilities to individuals or groups
  • Ensure that deadlines are met
  • Provide guidance on how best to structure a project
  • Ensure that all required resources are available
  • Determine who is responsible for each task on a given project
  • Monitor progress throughout a project
  • Take appropriate action when problems arise (e.g., cancel activities or reschedule if necessary).

Bottom line, the project manager has to monitor everything that’s going on throughout the entire project life cycle.

So, let’s get into the different responsibilities that a project management professional must do in more detail next.

Key Responsibilities of Project Managers

the role of a project manager
The project management office holds key responsibilities in the business.

How can a project manager plan, oversee, and deliver a project successfully? Well, let’s see what more they are responsible for to ensure the work runs smoothly:

Unites the team

A united team will work towards a common goal, while a divided team spells doom for a project. Project managers are aware of this and always strive to keep the team united.

A united team means that members trust each other. But how can you build trust between members of your organization?

Well, you must ensure that each member understands their roles and responsibilities. In addition, team members should also feel their feedback matters.

Project managers also encourage the team to achieve the organization’s objectives. They may develop a plan that accommodates every team member so they can work more effectively and bring out their full potential. Sometimes, project managers will give reviews of team member’s performance to motivate them.

Motivates Team Members

A capable project manager will motivate their team.

A sure way of motivating your team is through team building. Team building boosts morale during a project’s life cycle and after a challenging project.

Project managers can organize fun team-building exercises or happy hours where members can unwind. Or even give bonuses whenever teams exceed expectations.

Delegates Responsibilities

Project managers delegate responsibilities to qualified team members for a project to be successful. When a project is delegated efficiently, you free up time to focus on other high-value activities and oversee the project with the confidence that the team will do a good job.

So, project managers must match the team members’ competency to a specific task. In cases where the organization’s staff is unqualified, you’ll need to set aside a budget to hire a freelancer for the job.

You can also arrange for team members to study courses crucial to your organization, as this will be beneficial and cost-effective in the long run.


A project manager should practice and encourage open communication. Open communication makes it easier to discuss deadlines, milestones, and status, ensuring the project is on track.

Communication can take many forms. Depending on your goals and the project at hand, it could be weekly or monthly reports, emails, calls, daily check-ins, or attending meetings.

Always remember that every participant in the project is essential, and their opinion matters.

For this reason, foster an environment where there is open communication and where employees can freely express their opinions and concerns.

As a result, team members will feel more appreciated.

Communication is also essential as it will help you identify whether the project is on track or whether there is a potential roadblock that needs addressing.

What are the Daily Responsibilities of a Project Manager?

The technical aspects of project management.

Project management professionals need more than just technical know-how to handle different projects. They need to have a business mindset and be adaptable to every situation. PMs should also possess conflict resolution skills and exhibit leadership qualities that encourage team morale.

A project manager is like a bridge between upper management, key stakeholders, and team members working on a project. So, project manager roles and responsibilities may differ because of company size or industries. But the same rules apply across the board.

A day in the life of typical project manager will look like this:

  • Updating stakeholders
  • Organizing teams
  • Motivating the team
  • Checking on team members
  • Delegating
  • Checking in on deadlines
  • Reviewing budget sheets
  • Checking performance and metrics
  • Performing risk management analysis

Additionally, a project manager can also look like an air traffic controller. And a deadline babysitter.

Project Manager’s Role as “Air Traffic Control”

Project managers are responsible for guaranteeing that all deliverables follow a specific path, are moving along it appropriately, and at the right pace so they hit deadlines.

They also supervise each project team member responsible for each specific deliverable. In addition, project managers break projects into tasks and subtasks, define milestones, and highlight project dependencies.

For project managers, we recommend using a project management tool so they can oversee their projects successfully. This will help them see who should be doing what, who is available for work, unavailable, if milestones have been achieved, and how far along the project is.

Project Manager Role as Deadline Babysitter

Every project has a deadline that must be met. and meeting those deadlines often involves several moving parts that need monitored and overseen. So, a project manager has to establish that team members are edging toward the deadline with each passing day.

A project without a deadline tends to lag because team members may not be motivated enough to do the project.

However, the project will be successful when you set small daily goals or deliverables that each member has to deliver. PMs have to keep team members accountable and monitor each progress.

Project managers should also remember that following deadlines is major part of time management. Having a PM with great time management skills leading the team boost employee morale and engagement.

Workers are happier when they don’t have the deal with the immense pressure of completing last-minute, surprise tasks.

A Project Manager Masters the Art of Cost Efficiency

Profit makes a business stay afloat and thrive. And a good project manager understands that. PMs must make sure that the project stays within the allocated budget.

Doing this boils down to having an airtight (and following it) planning process in the initial stages. In addition, PMs must make sure the project can be completed within the proposed budget.

A successful project manager oversees each department to ensure they work according to the specifics and without excessive spending during the project life cycle.

A Project Manager Plans Ahead

Much of a project manager’s time is spent on the project schedule.

A good project manager looks ahead at what comes next.

What projects need to be planned for the next quarter, month, or weeks? Then, how can the project manager start putting the pieces in place to complete them appropriately?

Planning is the key to success because it helps you avoid pitfalls and keeps your project on course. You can make better decisions since you’ll have weighed all the options and chosen the best ones for your project.

When you plan, you’ll know what options are available in advance and know what to do when a sudden change occurs.

The worst thing a PM can do is work on a project without a plan. Without a plan, it’s way too easy to make bad decisions. Or miss important details that could affect the project’s deliverables or even cause problems later on in the project.

Here’s a three-step approach to developing a solid project plan.

Understand the project scope

The best way to plan ahead as a project manager is to ensure you understand the project’s scope well. This will help you determine how many resources you need and what they should be.

Set up time estimates

A successful project manager then determines how much time it will take to complete the project and then divide that time into smaller increments to estimate how long each task will take. This tactic also works when a project manager plans a budget and timeline.

Allocate resources to tasks

Once a PM has all this information, they start to plan their work. The first step is to identify all the tasks involved in completing the project and assign them accordingly so that everyone knows their job responsibilities.

Becoming a Project Manager

Various institutions like the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Project Management Professional (PMP) teach project management roles and offer project management certifications. Google also offers a Project Management Certification.

But a candidate doesn’t have to start there. Chances are, their previous positions required them to use a lot of project management-related skills, such as:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Budgeting
  • Risk management

Project manager salaries depend on the level of skills and responsibilities in your organization. However, given the nature of their jobs and the weighty responsibilities, they are compensated well for their work.

The role of a project manager is crucial in any organization.

Since project managers are in charge of the whole project, they must maintain quality, seamless communication, time, and update the stakeholders. They need project management software that will help them track time, tasks, costs, procurement, and project progress.

Key Takeaways

To recap, project manager responsibilities involve:

  • Uniting the team
  • Motivating team members
  • Delegating responsibilities
  • Enabling effective communication both with project team members and stakeholders.

So, if you want to scale your business and keep your customers happy, you need a dedicated project manager holding it all together.

It’s a tall order. But there are a lot of tools and processes available that can help PMs sail through their jobs and keep the project team on schedule and engaged.

Managing a team can be challenging but possible with the correct information. Download our project management checklist here to get your free guide to effective project management.

Business operations consultant Juliana Marulanda
Juliana Marulanda - ScaleTime Founder
Juliana Marulanda is a business operations expert, speaker, and the founder of ScaleTime. With over 20 years of experience across Wall Street, the non-profit sector, technology startups, and family-owned businesses, she now helps service-based businesses.
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