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Project Manager Role and Sphere of Influence

The project manager is responsible for results of the project team and must have related project management and technical knowledge and experience. Leadership, planning, coordination and communications play an important role.

A project manager influences his/her project, organization, industry, the professional discipline and other disciplines as well. As part of these, the influence is spread to other managers, governing bodies, customers, etc.

Project Manager Role

The project manager plays a critical role in the leadership of a project team in order to achieve the project’s objectives. This role is clearly visible throughout the project.

Some Project Managers strictly manage the project, and by that, I don’t mean they are strict managers, although they may be :)

I mean they work only within the boundaries of the project and perform what would be regarded as typical Project Management duties, which occur largely with Project Integration Management. They direct the specialists to do the other work. And there is nothing wrong with that. However, on many of my projects, traditional Project Management is just part of what I do. Often I will be heavily involved in the business analysis, feasibility studies; alternative analysis; consulting with management, both on the customer side and in my organization; assisting with strategic planning. I usually draft the business case and the project charter, and do all the traditional project Management work as well, right to the handing over of products and closing the project. And then afterward I usually work with the customer’s staff until the products are in everyday use and the support teams are competent to maintain and support them. During the project, I interview staff, perform the major procurements, develop and manage the User Acceptance Testing, and a number of other duties as well. In software developing language, I suppose I would be referred to as a “full stack Project Manager”. But interestingly, the PMBoK Guide tells us that working in a similar fashion to this is becoming more common. Technically, a Project Manager doesn’t have to perform all of the activities or have all the skills to produce the products. However, a broad understanding of the industry, environment, and technologies can be very helpful.

The PMBoK guide on page 51 and 52, compares a Project Manager with the conductor of an orchestra, which you will find interesting to read. A simple analogy may help in understanding the roles of a project manager for a large project by comparing them to the roles of a conductor for a large orchestra:

Membership and roles

That brings us to the end of The Role of the Project Manager, Module overview

I hope you enjoyed PMI comparing a Project Manager’s role with that of an orchestra conductor. But I would advise that you don’t use a baton to direct or staff, or they might think you a little strange. The next lesson is a very interesting one: “Project Manager Competencies”

Please read the corresponding chapter in the PMBOK Guide before watching the video.

Project Manager's Sphere of Influence

Project managers fulfill numerous roles within their sphere of influence.

These roles reflect the project manager’s capabilities and are representative of the value and contributions of the project management profession.

This section highlights the roles of the project manager in the various spheres of influence shown in below figure.

sphere of influence


Within the project, the Project Manager:

  • leads the project team to meet the project’s objectives and stakeholders’ expectations;

  • works to balance the competing constraints on the project with the resources available;

  • performs communication roles between the project sponsor, team members, and other stakeholders; and

  • provides direction and presents the vision of success for the project, to the team.

The project manager uses soft skills (e.g., interpersonal skills and the ability to manage people) to balance the conflicting and competing goals of the project stakeholders in order to achieve consensus.

In this context, consensus means that the relevant stakeholders support the project decisions and actions even when there is not 100% agreement.

Research shows that successful project managers consistently and effectively use certain essential skills.

Research reveals that the top 2% of project managers as designated by their bosses and team members distinguish themselves by demonstrating superior relationship and communication skills while displaying a positive attitude [12].

The ability to communicate with stakeholders, including the team and sponsors apply across multiple aspects of the project including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Developing finely tuned skills using multiple methods (e.g., verbal, written, and nonverbal);

  • Creating, maintaining, and adhering to communications plans and schedules;

  • Communicating predictably and consistently;

  • Seeking to understand the project stakeholders’ communication needs (communication may be the only deliverable that some stakeholders received until the project’s end product or service is completed);

  • Making communications concise, clear, complete, simple, relevant, and tailored;

  • Including important positive and negative news;

  • Incorporating feedback channels; and -- Relationship skills involving the development of extensive networks of people throughout the project manager’s spheres of influence.

These networks include formal networks such as organizational reporting structures.

However, the informal networks that project managers develop, maintain, and nurture are more important.

Informal networks include the use of established relationships with individuals such as subject matter experts and influential leaders.

Use of these formal and informal networks allows the project manager to engage multiple people in solving problems and navigating the bureaucracies encountered in a project.


The project manager proactively interacts with other project managers to balance demands on shared resources, helps create a positive influence for fulfilling the various needs of the project, and to manage:

  • Priorities of funding,

  • Receipt or distribution of deliverables, and

  • Alignment of project goals and objectives with those of the organization.

These needs may be in the form of human, technical, or financial resources and deliverables required by the team for project completion.

The project manager seeks ways to develop relationships that assist the team in achieving the goals and objectives of the project.

The project manager also works with the project sponsor to address internal political and strategic issues that may impact the team or the viability or quality of the project.

The project manager may work toward increasing the project management competency and capability within the organization as a whole and is involved in both tacit and explicit knowledge transfer or integration initiatives.

The project manager also works to:

  • Demonstrate the value of project management,

  • Increase acceptance of project management in the organization, and -- Advance the efficacy of the PMO when one exists in the organization.

Depending on the organizational structure, a project manager may report to a functional manager.

In other cases, a project manager may be one of several project managers who report to a PMO or a portfolio or program manager who is ultimately responsible for one or more organization-wide projects.

The project manager works closely with all relevant managers to achieve the project objectives and to ensure the project management plan aligns with the portfolio or program plan.

The project manager also works closely and in collaboration with other roles, such as organizational managers, subject matter experts, and those involved with business analysis.

In some situations, the project manager may be an external consultant placed in a temporary management role.


The project manager stays informed about current industry trends and works out how it may impact or apply to the current projects, positively or negatively.

These trends include:

  • Product and technology development;

  • New and changing market niches;

  • Standards (e.g., project management, quality management, information security management);

  • Technical support tools;

  • Economic forces that impact the immediate project;

  • Influences affecting the project management discipline; and -- Process improvement and sustainability strategies.


Continuing knowledge transfer and integration is very important for the project manager.

This professional development is ongoing in the project management profession and in other areas where the project manager maintains subject matter expertise.

This knowledge transfer and integration includes but is not limited to:

  • The contribution of knowledge and expertise to others within the profession at the local, national, and global levels (e.g., communities of practice, international organizations); and

  • Participation in training, continuing education, and development

    • In the project management profession (e.g., universities, PMI);

    • In a related profession (e.g., systems engineering, configuration management); and

    • In other professions (e.g., information technology, aerospace).


A professional project manager may choose to orient and educate other professionals regarding the value of a project management approach to the organization.

The project manager may serve as an informal ambassador by educating the organization as to the advantages of project management with regard to timeliness, quality, innovation, and resource management.

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