Role and Responsibilities of Project Manager in a Steel Project

Role and Responsibilities of Project Manager in a Steel Project

A project manager is usually a person who has the overall responsibility of managing a project successfully during its various stages in its life cycle consisting of initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, controlling, and closure. Because of the vastness of a steel project, there are several project managers in a steel project each having responsibility of an area of the project.

A project manager is normally a person who keeps all the elements of a project together. Project manager is the ‘man in-charge’ of the project and is required to take responsibility as the project leader.

Project manager reports to the management of the steel project and is responsible for the project progress to the management. The job of the project manager includes appraising the steel project management timely all the issues concerning the projects through a well laid out reporting system.

The project manager is to run all the affairs of the project during its life cycle and is responsible to complete the project successfully utilizing the authority delegated to him by the steel project management. Project manager is to operate within the triple constraints of the project which are time, resources, and quality.

The role of the project manager encompasses several activities which include the following.

  • Complete planning for the project.
  • Sequencing of project activities and creating an environment which is conducive to produce results.
  • Developing of an efficient, honest, and motivated team of employees which works hard for achieving the objectives of the project.
  • Developing budgets for getting finances from the steel project management to fund the expenditures needed for the project.
  • Management of available resources in an efficient manner.
  • Developing schedules for different stages of the project and management of time.
  • Taking of required approvals timely both from the steel project management and the regulatory agencies.
  • Coordinating various activities of the project such as design and engineering, procurement, and site activities etc.
  • Carrying out the internal coordination with various departments in the organization of the steel project.
  • Carrying out coordination with the external agencies involved in the project such as consultants, suppliers, transporters, contractors and other agencies connected with the project.
  • Monitoring of the project progress for taking of corrective actions and for appraising the steel project management about the progress.
  • Maintenance of quality of work during project execution so as to reduce the rework in case if it cannot be avoided.
  • Identification of roadblocks coming in the way of project execution well in time and finding their solutions for avoiding delays in the project execution.
  • Managing and resolving of conflicts arising during the project execution.
  • Management of uncertainties of the project.
  • Managing risks by maintaining a safe and healthy working environment at the work site and formulating of a contingency plan to take care of the situation in case of an unlikely disaster event taking place during the project execution.
  • Liaising with the project stake holders which include the regulatory authorities.

A competent project manager needs a number of specific skills. There are normally three dimensions (Fig 1) which determine the competency of a project manager. These are (i) knowledge, (ii) performance, and (iii) personal behaviour. Knowledge encompasses both technical knowledge of the project as well as knowledge of management techniques needed for the project implementation. Performance refers to the ability of the project manager to apply the knowledge to do or accomplish the project tasks. Personal behaviour refers to the behavioral aspect of project manager in performing a project related activity. The attitudes, character, and leadership style etc. of the project manager determine the competency level and the capacity to drive the project team in the right direction while realizing project objectives and handling the project constraints.

Three dimensios for determining the competency of project management

Fig 1 Three dimensions for determining the competency of a project manager

Project manager is the captain of the project team who drives the project by example and crates an atmosphere in which the project players can efficiently perform. The project manager needs to be all-rounder who is competent and has all those qualities and skills which are required for achieving success. Having knowledge of the technological process along with plant and equipment involved in the project is a necessity for the project manager. There are several qualities and skills required in the project manager which include the following.

  • Capability for analyzing the vast data generated during the project execution. For this, the project manager is to be well versed with different analytical techniques.
  • Capacity to understand and assimilate various documents which gets generated during the project execution.
  • Having quality of honesty, integrity and hardworking so that he can lead his team by example.
  • Having qualities of an effective leader.
  • Complete knowledge of the functions of management consisting of planning, organizing, directing, coordinating and controlling.
  • Knowledge of techniques of management which helps in controlling the various situations arising during the execution of the project.
  • Having decision making skills for taking of proper decisions at appropriate time.
  • Knowledge of communication techniques for effective upward and downward and parallel communication. Knowledge of communication techniques is very important since project manager is to communicate with a large number of external agencies in addition to internal departments.
  • Having skills for managing interpersonal relationship. This is an important skill needed in the project manager since a large work force is involved in project execution right from its initiation till its closure.
  • Having administrative skills for the running of day to day administration.
  • Having skills of relationship management so as to have amicable relationship with all the agencies involved in the project execution.

Besides above skills, the project manager needs to have some traits for the effective project management. The traits needed in an effective project manager include (i) intelligence, (ii) courageousness, (ii) driving ability, (iii) problem-solving ability, (iv) results orientation, (v) energy and initiative, (vi) self-confidence, (vii) positive outlook, (viii) negotiating ability, (ix) systematic working, (x) calculated risk taking ability, and (xi) respect for organizational ethics and discipline.

Proper record keeping is crucial to the project success. Records are useful documents during the execution of the project. Records are also very useful documents at the time of project closure after the completion of the project. Records are also needed for the resolving of the disputes if they arise with the agencies involved in the project execution. Sometimes these disputes arise during the project closure activities. Project manager is to ensure that all the records related to the project are kept systematically in spite of the fact that the facilities available for the storage of the records during the project execution are temporary in nature and sometimes may be quite inadequate. In this regards, digitization of the records is of great help.

The responsibility of the project manager includes security and safety of plant and equipment at the project site. All those necessary actions which are needed to ensure this are required to be taken since any theft or damage to the plant and equipment because of an accident can have serious implications of pushing the project considerably behind schedule. Project manager is to be aware that insurance cover reduces only the financial losses but consequences due to project delays are not covered by insurance.

The job of project manager is quite challenging because of uniqueness of each project. Hence, the project manager does not have standard operating procedures to support him. However, there are some common project implementation techniques, which the project manager is required to know, since these techniques help in the project execution. Project managers are normally to learn and sharpen their skills of effective project execution both by training as well as by learning through experience.  They are to ensure that their entire team is well trained in the project implementation techniques.

The biggest challenges to the project manager are coming during the management of the construction site. This is mainly because of the following reasons.

  • Facilities available at the construction site are usually minimal. Due to this there are several hardships which are faced by the work force working at the site. Project manager is to see that even under such difficult working conditions the motivation levels of work force and the agencies continue to remain high, so that the project objectives are achieved.
  • Activities at the construction site take place towards the end of the project life cycle and hence these activities are to be performed under severe time constraints. This is because these activities are to absorb the delays which have occurred during the earlier activities of the project life cycle.
  • There are a large number of agencies working simultaneously at the site and coordination between these agencies normally needs a lot of attention from the project manager. Also, since large numbers of agencies are working simultaneously, there are always possibilities that work of one agency may affect the work of other agency. There are also possibilities of conflicts between the agencies which can be due to several reasons. Project manager is to amicably resolve these issues between the agencies so that the work progress of the project can proceeds as per plan.
  • The activities at the construction site bring forth mis-matches, missing items, deteriorated condition of equipment due to faulty storage or due to mis-handling, and errors occurred during the design and engineering and many more such situations. All these need to be tackled by project manager efficiently at a time when the effect of triple constraints on the project is at its peak.
  • The biggest expertize needed for the project manager is at the time of the start of trial run of the equipment. Normally during this period of time, the operation team who is taking over the equipment comes forward with a big defect list along with a list of modifications needed for the plant and equipment. Most of these modifications are usually not covered in the contract with the executing agencies. Project manager is required to take judicious decisions during this period so that the plant and equipment can be handed over to the operational team amicably.

Steel projects normally have a long life cycle. During this long life cycle, often, it becomes necessary to carry out certain changes in the project concept due to change in the environmental conditions. To incorporate the changes when the project has moved forward sufficiently in its life cycle can affect the project schedules as well as the project costs. Project manager is to handle such situation with calmness and without getting upset. He is required to put up all the pros and cons of the change on the project to the steel project management so that the same can be considered while taking decision on the implementation of those changes.

The closure of project is a real test of patience for the project manager. This is the period when the project team has been pruned with the transfer of the project personnel to other departments. Also, other departments lower their attention towards project since they get involved on the activities related to plant operations. Under this scenario, the project closure activities become sometimes quite frustrating for the project manager. During this period, proper recordkeeping kept during the project stage provides a real support to the project manager.