The project team – OPEN

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Topic 2.2: The project team

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In new and expanding fields like electronics, nucleonics, astronautics, avionics, and cryogenics, a new type of manager is being bred.

Although he goes by many titles, the one most generally used is project manager.

His role in modern industry deserves more scrutiny than it has received from students of management and professional managers.

Paul O. Gaddis, The Project Manager, Harvard Business Review (May-June 1959).

Project managers are authorised and empowered by the performing organisation to deliver the project's outputs.

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This is a challenging, high-profile role with significant responsibility and shifting priorities.

It requires flexibility, good judgement, strong leadership and negotiating skills, and a solid knowledge of project management best-practices.

A project manager (PM) must be able to understand project detail, but manage from the overall project perspective.

As the person responsible for the success of the project, a project manager is in charge of all aspects of the project, including:

Developing the project management and related plans

Leading the project team to successfully deliver on those plans

Identifying, monitoring, and responding to opportunities and risks, and

Providing accurate and timely reporting of project performance.

The project manager is also the lead person responsible for communicating with all other stakeholders; indeed, the PM occupies the centre of the interactions between stakeholders and the project itself.

Importantly, this also involves managing the conflict that is inevitable in project environments.

Mature organisations also involve the project manager in the development of the business case and the conduct of the project review, even though the PM may actually not lead this process.

Project managers will often lead a team of individuals who bring to bear the diverse mix of technical skills required to deliver the project tasks.

They are mainly drawn from within the organisation performing the project and, as well as technical experts, may include dedicated schedulers, cost controllers, and administrators to assist with the project processes.

Project teams might also include specialist expertise recruited from outside the organisation, such as contractors (who perform project work) and consultants (who offer expert advice).

The challenges of harmonising this complex mix of full-time, part-time and contracted individuals – many of whom are working together for the very first time, and under the stress of the triple constraints – is addressed in the later Module on Project Delivery.

Ultimately, every project demands a single point of authority.

Sub-projects within a larger endeavour might each have their own sub-project manager, but a single point of decision-making and control makes for the most efficient outcome in circumstances where you have limited time and resources.

The necessary checks and balances then occur at other levels in the organisation – levels we will consider in the next few topics.