The project manager within the company

What is a project manager?

What is his/her responsibility?

Many people would answer these questions by saying that the project manager is responsible for leading the project, for achieving the project results, or the highest authority within the project, which is not always true.

In fact, it is only true in large projects or in companies where project management is very important. In all other cases, the role and responsibility a project manager assumes depend on the type of organization where he/she works.

Therefore, an important point when you start to assume a new position as project manager is to find out what type of organization you are working in, and therefore, what it is expected from you.

Project manager vs. organization’s culture

It is also important to understand that when we talk about managing projects within an organization, it constitutes a limit to your results, above and below.

If you work in a company with a poor project management culture, with no processes or tools for it, your ability to manage projects will also be poor. You simply can't do better than the organization allows; and this can be frustrating for trained people who would like to be able to go further.

By the same token, you shouldn't do any worse. If the company has its processes and tools for managing projects, you are expected to use them and bring your knowledge to bear to make the most of them.

It goes without saying that in both cases you can, and should, look to bring your knowledge and experience to bear to improve the way projects are run.

Additional resources on this topic.....

  Learn more in "A Practical Approach to Project Management"

Project Manager’s role depending on organization type

Project manager in functional organizations

Functional organizations are those in which authority rests with the heads of functional areas, one of which may be responsible for managing projects and is where you will be working. This situation is quite common in many companies.

In this situation, the authority of the project manager is minimal; his/her role is limited to coordinating the work performed by the different areas involved in the project and administrative tasks, with no direct responsibility for resources. In practice, he/she assumes the role of project coordinator.

This does not imply that the need to plan, follow up and control the project disappears; but the weight of these tasks falls largely on the heads of the functional areas. The project manager is responsible for ensuring that this is carried out in a coordinated manner, in accordance with the company's defined processes, and for reporting (in both directions) on the status of the project.

Project managers in functional organizations

Project manager in matrix organizations

The matrix organization is characterized by the fact that people report to two people in charge, on the one hand to the person in charge of the area where they work and, on the other, to the project manager where they are assigned.

In this case the authority of the project manager is greater than in the previous case, but at the same level as that of the area managers, who maintain control over the resources assigned to the project.

If you are in this situation, you will have to assume all the functions and responsibilities expected of someone who is in charge of the project, although your freedom to define and decide on resources will be conditioned by the fact that you will have to agree with the area managers. This also reduces your authority over the project team, since they see the area manager as their boss.

Therefore, in this situation, not only do you need to know about project management, but interpersonal skills become even more important due to the continuous conflicts and negotiations that can arise as a result of the duplicity of managers.

Projectmanagers in matrix organizations

Project manager in project organizations

Project-oriented organizations are those in which projects are their main activity, and therefore, their organization chart and way of functioning is centered on them. It is also a frequent form of organization in large projects, which often have specific structures to be executed.

In this situation, the project manager is the project leader and the sole authority over the team members. Therefore, he/she assumes all roles and responsibilities for internal and external aspects related to the project and its resources.

This is an infrequent situation in many companies, the usual are the two previous ones, and less in professionals with little experience. If this is your case, you will need to master project management techniques, as well as interpersonal skills to be able to manage communications and the people involved in the project.

Project organization

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