Are you juggling several teams, multiple technologies, innovative product ideas, and worst of all – tight budgets and timelines? If that describes your predicament, then you could use the help of a project manager.
In this article, I'll explain what a project manager does, how they adapt their role to various teams and projects, and what benefits you can gain from their diverse experience. I'll also introduce the Crowdbotics approach to pairing project managers with clients – we aim to create the best possible match and product development experience for you.
Responsibilities of a Project Manager
Simply put, a project manager leads a project and assumes multiple responsibilities including:
- Estimating tasks and project timelines
- Forecasting and managing budgets
- Providing routine reporting and regular updates
- Communicating customer needs to the development team
- Analyzing ‘what if’ scenarios
Project Manager = Scrum Master
In contemporary coding and technology contexts, the project manager plays an important role as Scrum Master by ensuring that teams embrace agile values. The Scrum framework emphasizes commitment, courage, openness, focus, and respect. Hence, a project manager must have deep experience working with cross-functional teams in product development to hone the necessary leadership, administrative and coaching skills.
Project managers have one primary goal – to manage and minimize risk. Risks are unexpected events that could derail a project from meeting its timelines. Common types of risks include:
- Financial risks such as budget overruns
- Timeline risks such as falling behind schedule
- Strategic risks such as choice of wrong technology
- Market risks such as competition, political economy
- Other risks such as a pandemic
These sorts of risks can have an impact on technology, processes, resources and, most importantly, people. A good project manager mitigates and manages various risks by thorough review, planning and preparing.
Qualities of a good project manager
By now, we’ve seen that the project manager role is multifaceted, and requires particular types of skills -- some that are non-negotiable for every project, and others which are project-specific.
- Qualifications which ensure understanding of processes and methods, such as Agile, Traditional, or Six Sigma project delivery
- Soft skills such as adaptability, analytical thinking, decisiveness, and the ability to multitask
- Conflict resolution and management
- Great written and oral communication skills, which are even more essential when working with international clients
- Awesome organization and planning capability, especially when working with young teams and startups
- Clear understanding of different departments to be able to communicate goals cross-departmentally
- Proven track record with similar sized projects, on-time delivery, budget management, and risk analysis
- Knowledge of the particular technology platforms or project management tools that the client wants to work with
- Knowledge of the client’s domain expertise (finance, medicine, retail, food & beverage, etc.)
- Cultural context if working with international clients (foreign language knowledge, business protocols, etc.)
The Five Phases of a Project
Before we discuss how involved a project manager should be, let’s quickly review the five phases of a project.
The project manager broadly defines the project scope and establishes feasibility before drawing up a project initiation document to summarize the project’s objectives.
The project manager establishes timelines and deliverables, organizes the workflows, and assesses the required resources.
At this stage, plans begin turning into tangible deliverables. The project manager sets clear expectations for every team member, assigns tasks, ensures availability of resources, monitors timelines, and updates on progress.
As the interface between the project team and other stakeholders, the project manager measures and communicates progress or problems. Most use metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as adherence to budgets and timelines and on-track deliverables for this purpose.
The project is finally live! The project manager helps teams and stakeholders evaluate the project’s success and documents the many lessons learned. Often, they will formalize this feedback process so it feeds into the project management system.
Project Involvement: Too Little or Too Much?
The project manager’s focus is on the whole, not the parts. Thus, it is critical for a project manager to define team roles and expectations clearly at the outset, so they stay focused on the overall goals. This allows the project manager to be less concerned with small individual tasks.
Based on several factors including the experience and expertise of the team, stage of the project, and risks associated at the current phase, project managers may be servant-leaders or may limit their involvement to finding resources, clearing obstacles, and just keeping things running. If a project is slipping, a project manager provides the necessary direction, strategy, and leadership on those tasks which are essential for the project to meet its goals.
The Crowdbotics Approach
Crowdbotics has a diverse team of project managers and developers from across the globe with varying strengths and skills. Crowdbotics project managers are trained on our ‘full code’ platform, and they leverage this platform to ensure that your project is delivered in the least amount of time. The platform also provides you with total transparency into tasks, resource assignments, costs, and timeline. Our project managers are also comprehensively trained on our product management process and standards.
Client-project manager pairings are evaluated carefully. For instance, if a client is new to application development, we might assign a project manager who is an excellent communicator and can proactively walk the client through each phase of the process. On the other hand, if a client is highly technical, we might assign a project manager who has an engineering background, so the client can get detailed answers to their technical questions.
This approach ensures that the project manager has the ability to meet the client’s most pressing needs, on top of having the necessary skill sets to see the larger project through.
Crowdbotics Can Help You!
Lars Willemse is an advertising consultant and MBA whose project management app Showcasing.io offers an experience "made by freelancers, for freelancers." The app automates the communication process between a freelancer and a client, especially for routine updates. Rather than the freelancer having to email back and forth, it shifts the tracking and monitoring to the client so it saves time and money.
Lars reached out to the Crowdbotics team and provided visuals on Adobe XD screens to give a sense for the visual elements he wanted incorporated. The Crowdbotics team gave him an estimate of how many customized hours it would cost as far as backend and frontend functionality. He worked with a project manager, a frontend developer, and a backend developer.
"From the start, Crowdbotics offered a productive collaboration in which we asked each other key questions to make sure the app would work perfectly."
The project manager set clear expectations between all involved. A daily 15-minute call kept things on track, gave everyone involved the opportunity to ask questions and clarify doubts, and ensured that nothing slipped through the cracks. Lars knew from prior experience how developers can get caught up and not be as communicative as necessary.
“The project manager provided by Crowdbotics is a great middleman between the client and the developers.”
The Crowdbotics approach of a team of three – project manager, frontend developer and backend developer – was perfect for Lars. It was efficient, and it minimized the clutter by ensuring that there weren't too many people being involved and fixing and changing things. The clarity from the project manager led to a successful execution of the project, and a great customer experience.
Crowdbotics can help you build your dream app. Get in touch with us today.
Read more customer experiences here.