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I have a very general idea of what a project manager does - taking each project group's work and basically synthesizing it in the most optimal, cost efficient way.

However, for this internship position, I was tasked to give a rough outline of being the project manager for a certain website. It had to include deadlines, milestones, etc. But I can't seem to figure out what these "deadlines" should include.. Simplistically, don't I simply give a template to the web developers and expect the template back? Or are there more factors coming into play?

Thanks for helping!

If you can, can I please see an example "outline" for a website? For instance,

Week 1: General body meeting, discuss template

Week 2: Discuss template with partners, stakeholders, etc.. I honestly have no idea what to write.

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4 Answers 4

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What you are discussing here is Project Planning, which is a small fraction of what a Project Manager does and, arguably, is the bit that can most easily be done by a non-project manager. In its most simplistic terms planning the project is the "art" of taking all the tasks required to achieve the desired outcome, together with estimates of the workload for each of them, and laying them out along a timescale in a logical and achievable order such that by following the plan, you deliver the required outcome.

The milestones are the key waypoints in a project and you can decide on what they are since they will vary from project to project. But for a simple web delivery they might be:

  1. Get the order
  2. Complete the requirements analysis
  3. Complete the specifications documentation
  4. Complete the design
  5. Complete the development
  6. Complete the system testing
  7. Complete the User Acceptance Testing
  8. Go-Live

So milestones are outward-facing items of information describing key transitions within the project and are used as a high-level way of assessing project progress (are you hitting your planned milestones on time?). They are also used to drive external dependencies- for example someone else (or just you!) might want to know when development completes/testing commences, so they know when you arrange with the testers to be available to start the work.

Deadlines, on the other hand, are imposed upon you by external factors; the client may require that the system goes live by a certain date, or you need to complete the requirements gathering before a certain key user goes on extended vacation. You do not decide the deadlines, they are the dates you must conform to, or at least try to conform to them- The project plan dictates what you can achieve and by when and that may or may not align to the deadline dates (usually doesn't!).

Only you, your employers and your developers and other technical staff know the tasks you need to undertake to deliver your system. Only you and your team can determine the estimates for the workload and the resources available to deliver and so only you can put together the project plan. As project manager that is (part of) your job. For the rest of your question, in respect of getting an outline plan for a generic website delivery, that verges into software engineering which is out of scope of this website.

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You gave him the answers! –  David Espina Mar 24 at 18:42
3  
I like to give answers, I feel it's almost what this website is for ;) –  Marv Mills Mar 24 at 18:43
3  
Ha, that's true. For school assignments I like to be more mysterious. :) Nice answer, though. –  David Espina Mar 24 at 18:46
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First, let me address your question about what a PM does. The PM:

  • Understands cost/scope/schedule/quality
  • Defines/plans cost/scope/schedule/quality
  • Takes action to preserve cost/scope/schedule/quality
  • Alerts relevant stakeholders of any change to cost/scope/schedule quality.

The PM's job is to make sure the project comes in on time, on budget, and is suitable.

So your first job is to define "What is done?" How will you know when the website is finished? (I can use google sites to set up a webpage in 1 minute or less; that won't make your customer happy. What kind of a website does your customer need? What will delight them?) Now you know the scope.

Second job is to plan. Your question asks how you are to know all the technical details; you don't need to know, you need to communicate. You don't need a template for a website; the devs already have that. Meet with the devs and work with them to make sure that everyone understands done. Then ask them what needs to happen to get to done. What are the steps. Break the task down into subtasks (ideally each subtask should be observable). The devs will estimate the time. They will tell you the deadlines. Planning is a lot of work. Frankly based on your question, I'm not sure you have enough knowledge to do it well.

Once there is a schedule, your responsibility changes: at any moment, day or night, you need to be ready to answer "Is the project on schedule? Will the project complete on time? Will the project complete on budget?" The tricky part is that you won't be writing code. You're just tracking devs. If you quizz the devs infrequently, you won't know whether they're on schedule or not. If you quiz them too often, you will be the reason that they are not on schedule. If your plan is well done, you'll be able to tell if they are on schedule/ahead of schedule or behind schedule. You should be ready to report those estimates at all times, but you'll need to work out with your sponsor how often the real reports will be delivered.

Your other obligation is to identify things that threaten scope/schedule/quality/cost and take action. If the head dev gets sick and falls behind in his work, it is your job to figure out whether the other devs can pick up the slack. If the problem will delay the schedule, increase the cost or diminish the quality, you need to understand that impact, and you need to work with whoever you need to come up with one or more options. (delay the project, hire a new programmer, decrease the scope, pray a whole lot). If you and the devs can solve the problem, glorious. If not, you need to involve whoever can solve the problem.

As an intern, your ability to make change is going to be limited. I suspect that the bulk of your work will be analyzing potential problems to understand what impact they could have on the scope/schedule/quality/cost. For any problem, make sure you know how many days delay, how many dollars cost, what capabilities will be diminished (quality).

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I’ll simply add to what the other couple of responders have already said.

Typically, project team members do not report directly to the project manager (PM) with respect to the org chart. This means one of the most important tools a PM will have is their influence. As an intern, you are both new to the organization and lack a lot of real-world experience. This will probably hamper your ability to exert a great deal of influence over not only project team members but other key contributors and stakeholders as well.

It sounds like your management is asking you to be more of a project coordinator than a true project manager. I suspect the main responsibilities for you will be planning and estimating. These are of course just part of what a true PM does, but it certainly does not diminish the importance.

Keep your outline simple and think about if you were doing all the work yourself and how you would approach it. Perhaps some of your more experienced team members have a general set of project development steps they tend to follow. You could use something like that as a starting point.

One of the biggest tasks for a PM is to monitor and manage risk. Be sure to point out in your outline which steps tend to involve the biggest risk. For example, if you require a specialist to do an important step and there is no one else to do it should the resource be unavailable, that would be a significant risk. More minor tasks or requirements that are lower in priority will inherently involve less risk.

Your management/stakeholders probably already have a target date or at least a timeframe in mind as to when they want the web site to go live. Keep that in mind as you set your milestones and deadlines. So if they expect to go live on 12/31/14, you have approximately 9 months to achieve the goal. Milestones are points along the project path you should feel comfortable sharing with anyone, including external stakeholders. Deadlines will typically occur more frequently than milestones and often represent actions that must happen so that other actions may happen.

I hope this helps and best wishes on your internship.

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The Project Manager is the responsible person for coordinating the activities and the various sources needed for the project.The project manger is only person who has to take care of the projects and needs of the clients.Project Manager is the person for the overall working of a project,direction,implementation,execution and successful completion of projects.The Project Manager has the complete knowledge of all phases of system development.

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