Project Manager role exists in several companies and industries. Although the book definition of project manager roles and responsibilities is concrete, in practice, it might change a lot across industries and companies. What does a project manager do according to theory? Who does a project manager report in an organization? What are the key competencies and skills for a project manager?

project manager in theory

We will go through the theoretical description of Project Manager during this post.

Project Manager Definition in Theory

Project manager is the person assigned by the organization to lead the team that is responsible for achieving project objectives. Roles and duties of a project manager might change depending on the organization but project managers play a vital role in success of a project. They act as the single point of contact most of the times whenever an information is required from a project.

Project Manager in Hierarchy

Depending on the type of organization, project manager can report to three types of other managers in the organization.

1- Project manager can report to a functional manager. Functional managers are responsible from resources for a specific domain. For instance, if software developers of a company are under the software development line, software development line manager is functional manager in this case. And depending on the Project Management Office (PMO) and project management structure of the company, project managers might report to functional managers.

2- Project managers might report to a program manager if their project is part of a program.

3- Or they might report to a portfolio manager if their project belongs to a portfolio. You can look our "Interrelationship of Project, Program and Portfolio" post to learn more about the project, program and portfolio.

project manager in theory

The main role of the project manager is, he acts as the link between strategy and team. A company has objective, strategies, and vision. In order to reach its goal, several projects are executed in a company. A project is a part of the overall success to reach a business goal. In this respect, project manager will guide its team to reach its project objectives and respectively the project will help to achieve overall success of the company in its business goals and objectives.

Project Manager Competencies

A project manager should have following competencies:

1- Knowledge about project management. Project management includes several knowledge areas like integration management, scope management, time management, people management etc. In order to manage a project successfully, project manager must have this competence. You can check Top 7 Project Management Questions in Quora to learn more about project management. For sure, the best contribution to increase your project management knowledge will be attending project management courses.

2- Performance. Knowledge or theory without practical implication is not that much valuable. You might know the project management theories and knowledge areas very well. But if you cannot perform them well on the field when executing a project, your project will suffer most probably.

3- Personal. A project manager spends 90% of his time with communication. This can be either written, face-to-face or informal. Therefore, a project manager must know how to reach people and how to encourage them to perform better.

A Project Manager must have several interpersonal skills but we listed the most important ones here. And the very very most important one is highlighted in red: Communication.

project manager in theory

If you are not good at communicating with other people, this will automatically impact your project success. You can be a perfect software developer, perfect civil engineer or a perfect test engineer. Unless you do not have good communication skills, even if you have very good knowledge of project management, it will affect the success of your projects. Leadership, team building, motivation, influencing, decision making, political and cultural awareness, negotiation, trust building, conflict management and coaching are other interpersonal skills that a project manager should have to manage projects better.

We have gone through the project manager roles, duties, position in the hierarchy, and competencies as prescribed by the book, or in other words: Project Manager in theory.


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project manager in theory