Project managers are becoming increasingly important in the business world

Lihle Z. Mtshali

Lihle Z. Mtshali

In today's fast-paced business environment, companies do not have the luxury to plan and execute their ideas at a leisurely speed. This is why more and more companies are employing project managers to be at the helm of projects, turning initiatives born out of executive strategies into reality.

"This is not a simple task," said Clinton in't Veld, CEO of project management specialists, the X-Pert Group.

Project managers are expected to skilfully prepare and implement projects within the constraints of a budget, time and skilled resources.

Traditionally, project managers were employed in the construction and engineering industries, but today they are found in retail, pharmaceutical, education and even health departments - anywhere that you have objectives which must be met under limitation, said in't Veld.

Nokuthula Mngomezulu is a project manager at FNB Online. Her job is to manage and put into action projects that the company's business units, her clients, are running.

When they launch a new product, the client may have an idea of what they want the end result to look like, but the project manager must identify what is needed to run the project smoothly and make the product launch a success.

As part of the planning that goes into every project, the project manager must hold meetings with the client.

The purpose of the first meeting is to determine the scope of the project.

This includes defining all the high level tasks, breaking them down and negotiating the timeframe and costs with stakeholders, identifying the resources and skills necessary for the project team to work effectively and delegating tasks accordingly.

Subsequent meetings are held where the project manager communicates the status of the project to the relevant stakeholders and if they are running behind schedule, renegotiates timeline, scope and budget.

All decisions taken in meetings must be communicated to the team that the project manager is in charge of, to ensure they are all working towards the same objective.

Nokuthula's leadership qualities and bubbly personality are what catapulted her into project management. Her strengths were identified by a manager she was helping, who promptly recruited her as a junior project manager, grooming and mentoring her into the resourceful project manager she is today.

"I love being able to sit with someone and take their idea or vision and managing it until it becomes a reality," said Nokuthula.

"As a project manager you are part of everything that happens in a project and are there to see the tangible end result."

Anybody considering a career in project management must be a very firm and ruthless negotiator who is willing to swallow their pride every once in a while.

You must also be good at managing different personalities to work together.