Do you like a fast-paced, challenging work environment? Are you looking for an exciting job that offers a good work-life balance and the opportunity to lead a development team? Do your soft skills include strong interpersonal communication abilities and a knack for leading others? If so, you may be an ideal fit for a career as a project manager.
While you have likely heard the phrase “project manager,” you may not be quite sure what the daily routine of these talented professionals looks like. Trust us — you are not alone.
Below, we take a closer look at a day in the life of a project manager.
Daily tasks of a project manager
A day in the life of a project manager typically includes important tasks, such as:
Planning your resources
Regardless of their industry, most project managers kick off their daily routine by analyzing and planning resource allocation. This is particularly important if they are developing a new project plan or are about to start another “sprint.”
During resource planning, managers must look at the big picture while also keeping their eye on individual projects that are underway. They allocate financial resources and assign team members to projects to ensure that they are completed within specified deadlines.
While managing fiscal resources is a vital component of a project manager’s role, the biggest commodity that project managers oversee is time. In the midst of a particularly taxing “sprint,” individual team members may lose sight of large-scale goals. The project manager must help their staff utilize their time wisely so they don’t fall behind on key projects.
Creating project plans
After they have finished resource planning, project managers turn their attention to pending projects. They often create detailed project plans using one of several project management methodologies. The exact methodology that they use depends primarily on organizational preference and the needs of the company.
For instance, many software development teams use the Agile methodology. When the project manager plans using this method, they will divide the project into manageable tasks, commonly referred to as “sprints.” Team members may be divided into smaller groups. The project manager assigns a single deliverable for each group to complete during that sprint.
Each sprint is followed by a brief lull, during which the deliverables are reviewed, monitored, and refined. The success of any project hinges on the methodology the project manager uses. Therefore, it is essential that they make the right choice.
Daily meetings are an integral part of project management. The project manager may host meetings with their entire department or team leads. These meetings typically consume 1—2 hours of the project manager’s day.
Since project managers are tasked with maximizing team efficiency, many of them use a “scrum” meeting format. Scrums are short meetings that are limited to a time cap of 15 minutes. When using this format, project managers meet and have a scrum with each team daily.
Reassess the health of each project
By early afternoon, the project manager has already reexamined their available resources, created plans for upcoming tasks, and met with their team. After those responsibilities are addressed, they must reassess the health of each project. Specifically, they determine which projects are on schedule and which are falling behind or going over budget.
During their health assessment, the project manager must develop strategies for remedying any potential delays. This may involve reassigning a staff member to a new team or asking their supervisor for additional resources.
Update clients and stakeholders
Most of the time, project managers conclude their day by updating clients and stakeholders on the progress of each assignment. This process may consist of phone calls, in-person meetings, or visual progress reports. It is vital that project managers keep stakeholders happy while exhibiting a high level of transparency.
Biggest day-to-day challenges
While a day in the life of a project manager is often filled with excitement, these talented professionals also face their fair share of challenges. Project managers are expected to be problem solvers who can think on their feet, pivot when necessary, and facilitate the successful completion of major projects. Project managers may encounter any number of challenges in a single workday, including:
Poorly defined goals
Let’s face it, stakeholders and investors don’t always know what they want or what a final product should look like. This can make successful project completion challenging for a project manager.
When leadership has poorly defined goals, project managers are forced to make decisions on the fly. As a result, they may have to adjust course in the midst of a major project. If they fail to rise to the occasion, vital client relationships can be damaged, which can lead to significant financial losses.
A lack of communication
The other major barrier that most managers encounter on a regular basis is a general lack of communication between project teams. While the project manager can do their part to facilitate collaboration, individual staff members must be willing to share information and communicate with one another.
In order to combat this barrier to productivity, project managers must always be aware of potential communication issues and friction between team members. By identifying problems early, they can proactively work to resolve them before they have a negative impact on the team or the project itself.
Resolving communication issues starts with knowing the individual team members. A great project manager will pair individuals that have complementary skill sets and personality traits. This minimizes friction and promotes seamless collaboration.
When pairings don’t go as smoothly as expected, project managers are equipped to help team members come together through the art of conflict resolution. Disagreements are bound to arise as a major project deadline draws near. Knowing how to find a middle ground and appeal to each party is a valuable skill.
How to become a project manager
Now that you know what a day in the life of a project manager entails, you may have decided that this exciting career path is for you. To help you accomplish your goals, we have outlined how you can become a project manager in a few straightforward steps.
Learn project management methodologies
First, you will need to familiarize yourself with the major project management methodologies. Put simply, a project management methodology is a specific set of guiding principles that helps you organize projects. Think of each project management methodology as a template that optimizes team performance and improves the odds of success.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of project management methodologies. However, you will not need to learn all of these methodologies. Instead, you should focus on some of the most flexible and commonly used approaches, such as Agile and Waterfall.
Before you go out and start purchasing textbooks on project management methodologies, start researching certificate programs. Many of these programs will teach you about the core project management methodologies. In addition, these programs will make you proficient with project management software such as Asana, but more on that below.
Obtain a Certificate
While there are certificate programs for virtually every type of project management software, we recommend obtaining your certificate for Asana. The Asana Project Management Certificate offered by Pathstream will provide you with invaluable skills and teach you how to use the world’s most popular project management platform. Our proven framework also covers the basic principles and methodologies of project management.
Land an interview
Once you have learned the requisite skills and obtained a certificate, you can begin applying for project management positions. While it is possible to land a project management job without experience, doing so can be quite challenging. In light of that fact, you may have to accept a position as a team lead in order to gain some management experience.
After you have landed your first interview, check out this list of project manager interview questions and answers. Our team outlines some of the most common questions you are likely to encounter during your interview. You can even review examples of high-quality responses so that you can nail your first interview and obtain that dream job.
Start your journey with Pathstream
If your goal is to become a project manager, Pathstream is here to help. Our innovative program is offered in partnership with top universities and is backed by Asana. The program can be completed in just six months and will pave the way for you to launch your new career.
When you enroll in our comprehensive project management certificate program, you will have access to highly experienced instructors, quality learning materials, and invaluable career guidance. At Pathstream, we not only equip you with the tools you need to manage a project successfully, but we also help you land your first job.
While the Asana Project Management Certificate is one of our most popular programs, we also offer several other high-quality learning experiences, including the Tableau Data Analytics Certificate and Salesforce Administration.
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