In the past, no one ever asked me what I did. When I worked for large corporations, it was easy to just say “I work for ___” and that, by itself, seemed to explain an idea of what I did. Then it was story over, unless someone was really interested.
When I switched to agencies, however, I had to start explaining what I did. In my social circles, most of our friends also work in tech, so when I say I’m a Project Manager – They have an idea of what I am. In other groups – not so much.
My little brother messaged me the other day and asked what he needed to know to get into Sales. I had to break it to him that I have no idea, because I’ve never worked in sales – at least not directly.
Brad explains to his classmates and others my job description as being “She tells people what to do all day, but she’s not their manager.” A reasonable description, but still not there.
So I thought I can do a quick guide into what I do, without getting too into the messy bits.
Basically, I’m a conductor in the orchestra that is web/app/software development. I’m not personally building the web/app/software, but instead, making sure all parties involved have what they need to build the app.
Then, I also manage the client to ensure documentation is easy to understand for the client and the engineers, and that we have an agreed upon schedule.
That, finally, allows me to work with internal management to secure resources (Developers, designers, etc.) within the schedule guidelines to complete the project.
Sometimes, depending on if I’m working with an Account Manager or not, there is also additional work into the budget and cost.
At the end of the day, I’m the lynch pin who knows what’s happening at all times. Basically, if the project fails – I should know exactly why.
Really, my role is about responsibility. It’s about being the responsible party to the client and my co-workers to ensure someone knows where the whole project is.
I could get into the complications of methodologies, certifications – but that’s really in one ear and out the other, if you aren’t interested in it.
Now, my role is not nearly as glamourous sounding as Bradly’s – Which is why I take him with me to networking events – because everyone is interested in the Archaeologist. But, I’ve been consistently able to bring in an income on it since 2013, so I can’t complain there.
I always recommend this role for individuals who are detail-oriented, tech-savvy and sociable. I’ve been multiple variations of this role, including the relaxing support role that is a Business Analyst (Ahhh, PM-lite), and PM of PM’s – The Pipeline Manager! This how allowed me to get an eagle-eyed view on how these different businesses work and how projects interact with the roles.
It’s also allowed me to mould how to act with clients and coworkers. Previously, I was much more nervous with clients and too chill with my coworkers. Over time, I’ve been able to use my background in Journalism and PR to build relationships with clients – which have been more valuable for my own brand and my employers than being “straight to business” and stand-offish.
I also want to clarify though – this doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with your coworkers. Far from it – It just means you need to be willing to put your foot down on certain things. As a PM, you are rarely your Devs, Designers, etcs. manager. You are part of their team. But at the same token – When a project fails, good luck going to upper management and saying “so-and-so didn’t do their job, so I shouldn’t be in trouble.”
You are the responsible party in this role, so it’s up to you to be able to convince these individuals to do the work, as expected. There are multiple methods and honestly, I find forming meaningful relationships with my coworkers the best way. The thing is, friends don’t want to screw over each other. Yes, it means sometimes your coworkers might walk over you – but it’s a calculated risk. One late lunch is fine and sometimes, you need to shut that shit down.
But, honey draws more flies than vinegar, and being a pain in the ass to work with solves nothing.
So, that’s about my role in a nutshell! Have any dying questions about what I do or how to get into the field? Or stories of how I don’t drink myself into an early grave when managing 4 large projects at once, with 3 pissed off clients? Let me know in the comments – I can share some fun insights.
The featured image is one of the banes of Project Management – Certification studying and hopefully, test passing. Note: I totally did not become a certified PMP. I’m still allowed to work as a Project Manager, I just cannot use the terminology PMP certified. I am ICP-Agile certified but… Oh god, you already stopped reading didn’t you?