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Broad Contents

Skills needed in a Project Manager

Functional Manager versus Project Managers

Selecting the Project Manager

Location, reporting and salary of the Project Manager

Duties and job description of Project Managers

Next generation Project Managers

6.1 Skill Requirements for Project Managers:

Projects are often complex and multifaceted. Managing these projects represents a challenge,

requiring skills in team building, leadership, conflict resolution, technical expertise, planning,

organization, entrepreneurship, administration, management support, and the allocation of


This section examines these skills relative to Project Management effectiveness. A key factor to

good project performance is the Project Manager's ability to integrate personnel from many

disciplines into an effective work team. To get results, the Project Manager must relate to:

  1. The people to be managed
  2. The task to be done
  3. The tools available
  4. The organizational structure
  5. The organizational environment, including the customer community

All work factors are interrelated and operate under the limited control of the Project Manager.

With an understanding of the interaction of corporate organization and behavior elements, the

manager can build an environment conducive to the working team's needs.

The internal and external forces that impinge on the organization of the project must be

reconciled to mutual goals. Thus, the Project Manager must be, both socially and technically

aware to understand how the organization functions and how these functions will affect the

Project organization of the particular job to be done. In addition, the Project Manager must

understand the culture and value system of the organization he is working with. Research and

experience show that effective Project Management performance is directly related to the level

of proficiency at which these skills are mastered.

Ten specific skills are identified (in no particular order) and discussed in this section:

  1. Team building
  2. Leadership
  3. Conflict resolution
  4. Technical expertise
  5. Planning
  6. Organization
  7. Entrepreneurship
  8. Administration
  9. Management support
  10. Resource allocati

It is important that the personal management traits underlying these skills operate to form a

homogeneous management style. The right mixture of skill levels depends on the project task,

the techniques employed, the people assigned, and the organizational structure. To be effective,

Project Managers must consider all facets of getting the job done. Their management style must

facilitate the integration of multidisciplinary project resources for synergistic operations. The

days of the manager who gets by with technical expertise alone or pure administrative skills are

gone. The ten specific skills required in a good Project Manager can be discussed as follows:

1. Team Building Skills:

Building the project team is one of the prime responsibilities of the Project Manager.

Team building involves a whole spectrum of management skills required to identify,

commit, and integrate the various task groups from the traditional functional

organization into a single Project Management system.

To be effective, the Project Manager must provide an atmosphere conducive to

teamwork. He must nurture a climate with the following characteristics:

  • Team members committed to the project
  • Good interpersonal relations and team spirit
  • The necessary expertise and resources
  • Clearly defined goals and project objectives
  • Involved and supportive top management
  • Good project leadership
  • Open communication among team members and support organizations
  • A low degree of detrimental interpersonal and inter-group conflict

Three major considerations are involved in all of the above factors aimed towards

integration of people from many disciplines into an effective team:

a) Effective communication

b) Sincere interest in the professional growth of team members

c) Commitment to the project

2. Leadership Skills:

An absolutely essential prerequisite for project success is the Project Manager's ability

to lead the team within a relatively unstructured environment. It involves dealing

effectively with managers and supporting personnel across functional lines with little or

no formal authority. It also involves information processing skills, the ability to collect

and filter relevant data valid for decision making in a dynamic environment. It involves

the ability to integrate individual demands, requirements, and limitations into decisions

that benefit overall project performance. It further involves the Project Manager's ability

to resolve inter-group conflicts that is an important factor in overall project


Perhaps more than in any other position below the general manager's level, quality

leadership depends heavily on the Project Manager's personal experience and credibility

within the organization. An effective management style might be characterized this way:

  • Clear project leadership and direction
  • Assistance in problem solving
  • Facilitating the integration of new members into the team
  • Ability to handle interpersonal conflict
  • Facilitating group decisions
  • Capability to plan and elicit commitments
  • Ability to communicate clearly
  • Presentation of the team to higher management
  • Ability to balance technical solutions against economic and human factors
  • The personal traits desirable and supportive of the above skills are:
  • Project management experience
  • Flexibility and change orientation
  • • Innovative thinking
  • Initiative and enthusiasm
  • Charisma and persuasiveness
  • Organization and discipline

3. Conflict Resolution Skills:

Conflict is fundamental to complex task management. It is often determined by the

interplay of the Project organization and the larger host organization and its

multifunctional components.

Understanding the determinants of conflicts is important to the Project Manager's

ability to deal with conflicts effectively. When conflict becomes dysfunctional, it often

results in poor project decision making, lengthy delays over issues, and a disruption of

the team's efforts, all negative influences to project performance. However, conflict can

be beneficial when it produces involvement and new information and enhances the

competitive spirit.

A number of suggestions have been derived from various research studies aimed at

increasing the Project Manager's ability to resolve conflict and thus, improve overall

project performance.

Project managers must:

Understand interaction of the organizational and behavioral elements in order to

build an environment conducive to their team's motivational needs. This will

enhance active participation and minimize unproductive conflict.

Communicate effectively with all organizational levels regarding both project

objectives and decisions. Regularly scheduled status review meetings can be an

important communication vehicle.

Recognize the determinants of conflict and their timing in the project life cycle.

Effective project planning, contingency planning, securing of commitments, and

involving top management can help to avoid or minimize many conflicts before they

impede project performance.

The value of the conflict produced depends on the ability of the Project Manager to

promote beneficial conflict while minimizing its potential hazardous consequences. The

accomplished manager needs a "sixth sense" to indicate when conflict is desirable, what

kind of conflict will be useful, and how much conflict is optimal for a given situation.

In the final analysis, he has the sole responsibility for his Project and how conflict will

contribute to its success or failure.


4. Technical Skills:

The Project Manager rarely has all the technical, administrative, and marketing

expertise needed to direct the Project single-handedly. Nor is it necessary or desirable.

It is essential, however, for the Project Manager to understand the technology, the

markets, and the environment of the business to participate effectively in the search for

integrated solutions and technological innovations. More important, without this

understanding, the integrated consequences of local decisions on the total Project, the

potential growth ramifications, and relationships to other business opportunities cannot

be foreseen by the manager. Further technical expertise is necessary to evaluate

technical concepts and solutions, to communicate effectively in technical terms with the

project team, and to assess risks and make trade-offs between cost, schedule, and

technical issues. This is why in complex problem-solving situations so many project

managers must have an engineering background.

Taken together, technical expertise is important to the successful management of

engineering projects. It is composed of an understanding of the:

  • Technology involved
  • Engineering tools and techniques employed
  • Specific markets, their customers, and requirements
  • Product applications
  • Technological trends and evolutions
  • Relationship among supporting technologies
  • People who are part of the technical community

This is normally an excellent testing ground for the future Project Manager. It also

allows top management to judge the new candidate's capacity for managing the

technological innovations and integration of solutions needed for success.

5. Planning Skills:

Planning skills are helpful for any undertaking; they are absolutely essential, however,

for the successful management of large complex projects. The project plan is the road

map that defines how to get from the start to the final results.

Project planning is an ongoing activity at all organizational levels. However, the

preparation of a project summary plan, prior to project start, is the responsibility of the

Project Manager. Effective project planning requires particular skills far beyond writing

a document with schedules and budgets. It requires communication and information

processing skills to define the actual resource requirements and administrative support

necessary. It requires the ability to negotiate the necessary resources and commitments

from key personnel in various support organizations with little or no formal authority,

including the definition of measurable milestones.

Effective planning requires skills in the areas of:

  • Information processing
  • Communication
  • Resource negotiations
  • Securing commitments
  • Incremental and modular planning
  • Assuring measurable milestones
  • Facilitating top management involvement

In addition, the Project Manager must assure that the plan remains a viable document.

Changes in project scope and depth are inevitable. The plan should reflect necessary

changes through formal revisions and should be the guiding document throughout the

life cycle of the Project. Nothing is more useless than an obsolete or irrelevant plan.

Finally, Project Managers need to be aware that planning can be overdone. If not

controlled, planning can become an end in itself and a poor substitute for innovative

work. Individuals retreat to the utopia of no responsibility where innovative actions

cannot be taken ''because it is not in the plan." It is the responsibility of the Project

Manager to build flexibility into the plan and regulate it against such misuse.

6. Organizational Skills:

The Project Manager must be a social architect, that is, he must understand how the

organization works and how to work with the organization. Organizational skills are

particularly important during project formation and startup when the Project Manager

establishes the project organization by integrating people from many different

disciplines into an effective work team. It requires far more than simply constructing a

project organization chart. At a minimum, it requires defining the reporting

relationships, responsibilities, lines of control, and information needs. Supporting skills

in the area of planning, communication, and conflict resolution are particularly helpful.

A good project plan and a task matrix are useful organizational tools. In addition, the

organizational effort is facilitated by clearly defined project objectives, open

communication channels, good project leadership, and senior management support.

7. Entrepreneurial Skills:

The Project Manager also needs a general management perspective. For example,

economic considerations are one important area that normally affects the organization's

financial performance. However, objectives often are much broader than profits.

Customer satisfaction, future growth, cultivation of related market activities, and

minimum organizational disruptions of other projects might be equally important goals.

The effective Project Manager is concerned with all these issues. Entrepreneurial skills

are developed through actual experience. However, formal training (MBA type), special

seminars, and cross-functional training projects can help to develop the entrepreneurial

skills needed by Project Managers.

8. Administrative Skills:

Administrative skills are essential. The Project Manager must be experienced in

planning, staffing, budgeting, scheduling, and other control techniques. In dealing with

technical personnel, the problem is seldom to make people understand administrative

techniques such as budgeting and scheduling, but to impress on them that costs and

schedules are just as important as elegant technical solutions.

Particularly on larger projects, managers rarely have all the administrative skills

required. While it is important that Project Managers understand the company's

operating procedures and available tools, it is often necessary for the program manager

to free him/her from administrative details regardless of his/her ability to handle them.

He/she has to delegate considerable administrative tasks to support groups or hire a

project administrator.


Some helpful tools for the manager in the administration of his project include:

The meeting

The report

The review

The budget and schedule controls

Project Managers must be thoroughly familiar with these available tools and know how

to use them effectively.

9. Management Support Building Skills:

The Project Manager is surrounded by a myriad of organizations that either support

them or control their activities. An understanding of these interfaces is important to

Project Managers as it enhances their ability to build favorable relationships with senior

management. Management support is often an absolute necessity for dealing effectively

with interface groups. Project organizations are shared power systems with personnel of

many diverse interests and "ways of doing things." These power systems have a

tendency toward imbalance. Only a strong leader backed by senior management can

prevent the development of unfavorable biases.

Four key variables influence the project manager's ability to create favorable

relationships with senior management. These are:

1. Their ongoing credibility

2. The visibility of their project

3. The priority of the project relative to other organizational undertakings

4. Their own accessibility

All these factors are interrelated and can be developed by the individual manager.

Furthermore, senior management can aid such development significantly.

10. Resource Allocation Skills:

A project organization has many bosses. Functional lines often shield support

organizations from direct financial control by the project office. Once a task has been

authorized, it is often impossible to control the personnel assignments, priorities, and

indirect manpower costs. In addition, profit accountability is difficult owing to the

interdependencies of various support departments and the often changing work scope

and contents.

Effective and detailed project planning may facilitate commitment and reinforce

control. Part of the plan is the "Statement of Work," which establishes a basis for

resource allocation. It is also important to work out specific agreements with all key

contributors and their superiors on the tasks to be performed and the associated budgets

and schedules. Measurable milestones are not only important for hardware components,

but also for the "invisible" project components such as systems and software tasks.

Ideally, these commitments on specifications, schedules, and budgets should be

established through involvement by key personnel in the early phases of project

formation, such as the proposal phase. This is the time when requirements are still

flexible, and trade-offs among performance, schedule, and budget parameters are



6.2 Functional Manager versus Project Manager:

Assuming that the Project and Functional Managers is not the same person, we can identify a

specific role for the Functional Manager. There are the following elements to this role:

The Functional Manager has the responsibility to define how the task will be done and where the task will be done (i.e., the technical criteria).

The Functional Manager has the responsibility to provide sufficient resources to accomplish the objective within the project's constraints (i.e., who will get the job done).

The Functional Manager has the responsibility for the deliverable.

The major responsibility of the Project Manager is planning. If project planning is performed

correctly, then it is conceivable that the Project Manager will work himself out of a job because

the project can run itself. As the architect of the project plan, the Project Manager must provide:

Complete task definitions

Resource requirement definitions (possibly skill levels)

Major timetable milestones

Definition of end item quality and reliability requirements

The basis for performance measurement

These factors, if properly established, result in:

Assurance that functional units will understand their total responsibilities toward achieving

project needs.

Assurance that problems resulting from scheduling and allocation of critical resources are

known beforehand.

Early identification of problems that may jeopardize successful project completion so that

effective corrective action and re-planning can be done to prevent or resolve the problems.

Project Manager are responsible for project administration and, therefore, must have the right to

establish their own policies, procedures, rules, guidelines, and directives – provided these

policies, guidelines etc. conform to overall company policy. Companies with mature project

management structures usually have rather loose company guidelines, so project managers have

some degree of flexibility in how to control their projects.

6.3 Selecting the Project Manager:

Probably the most difficult decision facing upper level management is the selection of Project

Manager. Some Managers work best on long-duration projects where decision making can be

slow; others may thrive on short-duration projects that can result in a constant pressure


The new individual is apt to make the same mistakes the veteran made. However, executives

cannot always go with the seasoned veterans without creating frustrating career path

opportunities for the younger personnel. Project Manager selection is a general management


A Project Manager is given license to cut across several organizational lines. His activities,

therefore, take on a flavor of general management, and must be done well.

Project management will not succeed without good Project Managers. Thus, if general

management sees fit to establish a project, it should certainly see fit to select a good man as

its leader.

A Project Manager is far more likely to accomplish desired goals if it is obvious that

general management has selected and appointed him.


The selection process for Project Manager is not an easy one. Five basic questions must be


1. What are the internal and external sources?

2. How do we select?

3. How do we provide career development in project management?

4. How can we develop project management skills?

5. How do we evaluate project management performance?

Project management cannot succeed unless a good Project Manager is at the controls. The

selection process is an upper level management responsibility because the Project Manager is

delegated the authority of the general manager to cut across organizational lines in order to

accomplish the desired objectives successfully. It is far more likely that Project Manager will

succeed if it is obvious to the subordinates that the general manager has appointed them.

Usually, a brief memo to the line managers will suffice.

Figure 6.1: Organizational hierarchy

6.5 Duties and Job Descriptions:

Since projects, environments, and organizations differ from company to company as well as

project to project, it is not unusual for companies to struggle to provide reasonable job

descriptions of the Project Manager and associated personnel. Below is a simple list identifying

the duties of a project manager in the construction industry.

6.5.1 Planning:

  • Become completely familiar with all contract documents.
  • Develop the basic plan for executing and controlling the project.
  • Direct the preparation of project procedures.
  • Direct the preparation of the project budget.5

  • Direct the preparation of the project schedule.
  • Direct the preparation of basic project design criteria and general specifications.
  • Direct the preparation of the plan for organizing, executing, and controlling field construction activities.
  • Review plans and procedures periodically and institute changes if necessary.

6.5.2 Organizing:

Develop organization chart for project.

Review project position descriptions, outlining duties, responsibilities, and

restrictions for key project supervisors.

Participate in the selection of key project supervisors.

Develop project manpower requirements.

Continually review project organization and recommend changes in organizational

structure and personnel, if necessary.

6.5.3 Directing:

Direct all work on the project that is required to meet contract obligations.

Develop and maintain a system for decision making within the project team

whereby decisions are made at the proper level.

Promote the growth of key project supervisors.

Establish objectives for Project Manager and performance goals for key Project


Foster and develop a spirit of project team effort.

Assist in resolution of differences or problems between departments or groups on

assigned projects.

Anticipate and avoid or minimize potential problems by maintaining current

knowledge of overall project status.

6.5.4 Controlling:

Monitor project activities for compliance with company purpose and philosophy

and general corporate policies.

Interpret, communicate, and require compliance with the contract, the approved

plan, project procedures, and directives of the client.

Maintain personal control of adherence to contract warranty and guarantee


Closely monitor project activities for conformity to contract scope provisions.

Establish change notice procedure to evaluate and communicate scope changes.

Maintain effective communications with the client and all groups performing

project work.

6.6 Next Generation Project Managers:

The skills needed to be an effective, twenty-first century Project Manager have changed from

those needed during the 1980s. Historically, only engineers were given the opportunity to

become Project Managers. The belief was that the Project Manager had to have a command of

technology in order to make all of the technical decisions. As project management began to

grow and as projects became larger and more complex, it became obvious that Project

Managers might need simply an understanding rather than a command of technology. This trend

will become even more pronounced in the twenty-first century.


The primary skills needed to be an effective project manager in the this century will be:

Knowledge of the business

• Risk management

Integration skills

The critical skill is risk management. However, to perform risk management effectively, a

sound knowledge of the business is required. Figure 6.2 below shows the changes in project

management skills needed between 1985 and 2000. Training in these business skills is on the


Figure 6.2: Project Management Skills

6.7 Table: Methods and Techniques for Developing Project Managers:

I. Experiential training/on-the-job

Working with experienced professional leader

Working with project team member

Assigning a variety of project management responsibilities, consecutively

Job rotation

Formal on-the-job training

Supporting multifunctional activities

Customer liaison activities

II. Conceptual training/schooling

Courses, seminars, workshops

Simulations, games, cases

Group exercises

Hands-on exercises in using project management techniques

Professional meetings

Conventions, symposia

Readings, books, trade journals, professional magazines

III. Organizational development

Formally established and recognized project management function

Proper project organization

Project support systems

Project charter

Project management directives, policies, and procedures.

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