Project managers work in all industries and oversee the completion of large short-term projects. Preliminary discussions are held with the client to establish their requirements, following which the project manager develops a brief providing a detailed analysis of the objectives, resources needed, timescales and budgetary estimates for completion.
The project manager is responsible for selecting and organising the project team which may number up to 100 people, some of whom may have specific skills such as legal or financial expertise. The project manager also negotiates tenders with external contractors for materials and services, and may employ specialist consultants to help with decisions on particular courses of action.
The project is broken down into a sequence of phases to be completed in accordance with set quality standards, time constraints and cost limits. Various methodologies are employed, depending on the project, with two of the most widely used being PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments) and PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge). In addition, computer software is used to simulate possible outcomes and to help with costing, estimating materials and other aspects of project control. The project manager will devise contingency plans in case any problems or issues arise during the progress of each phase.
Regular reports and presentations on the project's progress will be delivered to the client.
There are no set hours for project managers, and the working week may be long where deadlines must be met.
The environment varies depending on the project. Much of the work is office-based, but there will be some travel to visit contractors and suppliers or to inspect the project's progress. There may be periods of time spent away from home, often overseas.
To be a project manager you should:
Project managers are employed in areas such as construction, finance and accounting, law, sales and marketing, IT, manufacturing and engineering, and in the public sector. (See the Project Manager: IT profile for more information on this area). Some jobs are offered as fixed-term contracts, so it may be necessary to seek new positions fairly frequently. Opportunities are available both in the UK and overseas.
Some project managers set up their own management consultancies.
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