As a project manager I catalogue a group's tasks, definitions, dependencies, milestones, resources, and similar other elements of a project. The managers use this to report up, estimate project health, and anticipate problems with deadlines.

This feels like a passive experience. What can a project manager do that adds value beyond simply maintaining the project document?

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The real value added by the Project Manager is the running ahead of the team making sure any potential roadblocks are removed before the team stumble on them. This could involve making sure other teams know when to expect your teams deliverables so they are ready, or it could mean making sure stakeholders know how things are going so they don't get suprises.

The collation of the task information and progress is the paperwork side of being a PM that gives you the information needed to do the looking ahead and preparing work as above.

Being a good PM is more about communication than updating Gantt charts

"Get closer to the team and solve their problems "

Project Manager's key value addition comes from the fact that she is responsible for ensuring the project's success and in addition to reporting,estimating and highlighting ,

actually solving the team problems,suggesting/soliciting trade offs to ensure success,managing an efficient budget,keeping the team's and team leader's morale high are some high value tasks which a project manager should do !

  • Jump into the fray! Solve some problem reports, run some test cases, write some documentation - fill in the gaps. – Scott C Wilson May 16 '12 at 9:31

I agree with Trevor; it sounds like your role is more of what I think the PMBoK references as a project coordinator or expeditor, or what Trevor captured as the project engineer...not the project manager role at all. Someone else must be serving in the role but under a different title.

The project manager is the leader. There may not be tactical tasks you can align with the role. PMs lead, motivate, facilitate, hand-hold, babysit, teach, coach, block, decide, analyze, console, remove, buy...on and on. Simply put, you know a leader is there when things are being led.

However, I have always opined that the best leaders become more and more bored as the team becomes high performing and the capabilities become mature. I find a correlation with hard working leaders and a ton of hours with weak capabilities, dysfunctional teams, and general chaos (notwithstanding new teams and new projects, that is!). So this notion of passivity, under the right circumstances, could be a very good thing.

  • +1 for I find a correlation with hard working leaders and a ton of hours with weak capabilities, dysfunctional teams, and general chaos. – Danny Schoemann Mar 3 '16 at 9:28

What you are describing is a Project ENGINEER's job not the Project MANAGER.

As the Manager, it's your job to make the client's intended outcome happen. You do this by having a clear understanding up-front of what they want, and then continually monitor progress against what's expected. In doing this you may find ways to improve something, or a way to correct something.

One earlier question here was from a PM asking how he should handle a situation where he found a problem that, while not affecting his project, could affect the product of the project several years down the line. That is adding value.

You have been entrusted with money, time, resources and authority to bring to fruition something they think will benefit them in some way. So focus on being responsible with what they've given you and trying to make sure that the project delivers as hoped.

Any field is driven with one's experience at work. Initially we all go by the books and the theoretical learning's we had, that is a stepping stone. But to achieve success one needs to be innovative, adopt techniques that work.

A project manager is a "Father and Mother" when it comes to handling things. Like a father injects discipline and Guidance in life and a Mother shows the light of how to achieve things and be sincere, a Project person needs to do the same, have discipline, sincerity and the vigour to close down on tasks.

A project manager always needs to be aware of the client needs, their reactions so that internally the team is given the direction of the client requirements. Plan the workflow for the team so that operationally there are no hickups or speed breakers. Always be on the lookout, where things can be put on a fast track and timeline can be reduced, keeping in mind the resource load. The biggest value add for an organization I've seen is:

  • How fast you close projects, with how much resource utilization

The above two would help the company finance immensely.

You can use the data you are accumulating to have numbers on:

  • team velocity: how much can a team commit to in a given period of time?
  • team availability: how many resources do you have available in order to deliver a product? Plan ahead so you get no surprises down the line
  • be aware of how your team members usually estimate their tasks and adjust those estimates them when they over/under estimate; this means you should know the people, not just the project

Basically all this "documentation gathering" is priceless in giving you the data you need to plan ahead, assess risks, estimate, get to know your people.

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