Areas of Responsibility and Spheres of Influence of a Project Manager

Areas of Responsibility and Spheres of Influence of a Project Manager

The Author:
Oleksiy Shebanov
Oleksiy Shebanov,
Trainer & Managing Partner @E5
Director. Head of PMO @ Intellias
Certified PMP, ICP-APM, TKP

In a modern company, especially if it is related to IT, it is a must to have a Project Manager. This is a specialist who performs their duties, communicates with the team, and so on. However, not everyone understands what exactly is included in the list of responsibilities for this position.

Hence, the requirements for a candidate for this role can vary significantly from one company to another. This creates a certain discomfort for those who are looking for a job in this field.

The experts at E5 have prepared materials that clearly describe what a project manager should and should not do. It is understood that other nuances may depend on the specific employer organization, but in general, there are common norms and standards for everyone.

We will address the following questions:

  1. The importance of a project manager for the company.
  2. The role of a PM in typical business processes.
  3. Influence on product quality.
  4. Responsibilities and situational roles in the position.
  5. Methodologies and recommendations that help professionals develop.

A brief overview of the profession.

Just by looking at the job title, we understand that the key task of the professional is project management. However, does this mean they create projects themselves, approve them, and perhaps even implement them independently? Of course not.

A Project Manager is an expert with strong leadership qualities, communication skills, and deep domain knowledge. Among their responsibilities are:

  • Project planning.
  • Defining project objectives.
  • Communication with investors (or clients).
  • Monitoring progress and overall work.
  • Project budgeting.
  • Managing scope and work schedule.
  • Risk management.
  • Task decomposition.
  • Working with the team.

This is if we consider the profession in a broad sense. In practice, the list can vary somewhat depending on the specific needs of the project or methodologies. It is also based on international PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) standards.

Project Management Body Of Knowledge

In summary, PMBOK is an industry standard for project management that reflects the current trends and developments in the profession. Its modernization is overseen by the Project Management Institute, a group that specializes in this type of activity.

By the way, E5 is a certified PMI provider, as we use the methodologies developed by the PMI group in their work and training.

Why do we mention PMBOK in the context of this material? Because it’s an important standard for the PM profession. Whether you adopt it or not is secondary; the main thing is to familiarize yourself with it for professional purposes, including advancing in your qualifications.

The current (seventh iteration) guide has transformed somewhat when compared to previous versions. Now, the focus has shifted towards Agile, and the material itself is designed to be more easily understood, even by beginners. The key objects in PMBOK are principles that align with processes or tools.

Use Cases of Applying PMBOK Standards in Reality

To better elucidate the essence of the material, E5 experts have prepared a list of 12 key points on what it means to be a Project Manager in practice. Next, you will learn about the roles that PMs perform and their significance in the context of projects.


In fact, a Project Manager serves as an integrator within the organization. The professional needs to encompass three aspects of the project simultaneously: the team, the company, and the client, in order to synchronize cooperation and streamline work processes. Strategies, visions, missions, direct communications, and compromise-finding—all of these need to be taken into account before the project is launched.

Furthermore, the expert must convey to the team the essence of the task, corporate policies, and information regarding the project’s needs, client, target audience, and more. This is necessary for the team to integrate, adapt, and carry out their assigned tasks as efficiently as possible.

Team Environment

The PM must create a specialized work environment for project implementation. This means that they should select professionals of a certain level, experience, and skills. It’s crucial for the team to be composed like a “puzzle,” so even if there are gaps in individual skill sets, the team functions as a single organism and compensates for specific shortcomings of individual members.

It’s understood that conducting interviews with every candidate in projects involving 100 people can be quite challenging. However, you can focus on key roles, such as Business Analysts (BAs) or Team Leads, and then delegate this task to them.

Another interesting aspect is the importance of creating an environment where the rules are understood by the team and accepted by the majority of project participants. To achieve this, it’s worth working on them together with the team. For example:

  • Identify the values of the project and collaboration.
  • Set project goals.
  • Determine change approval algorithms, and so on.
  • Identify potential conflicts and ways to mitigate them.
  • Propose behavioural models.

In reality, this list can be almost endless, and its specifics depend on the collective nature of the team.

Additional points of organizing the environment

It’s also worth creating a team SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) guideline, where the following are outlined:

  • Responsibilities of the Product Owner (PO), Project Manager (PM), and the development team.
  • A structured sequence of processes.
  • Algorithms for interaction among project participants.

This approach allows for building a framework for work. According to it, everyone involved in the project will have their set of responsibilities for which they will be accountable. The same applies to documenting processes, which is a crucial component of development.

In addition to that, you’ll need a RACI Matrix, where the areas of responsibility for all leadership roles in the project will be defined. You will also require a communication plan, specifying the frequency, meeting methods, objectives, and key topics.

It’s hardly necessary to remind that the role of a PM automatically includes working with the team. This encompasses personal communication, meetings, monitoring the team’s well-being and productivity, team building, group celebrations, and so on.

Cooperation with stakeholders

A stakeholder is considered to be a person who has an interest in a particular project (or conversely, the project/product depends on them). It’s the PM’s responsibility to maintain continuous communication with this group.

To effectively establish the interaction process with stakeholders, a professional needs to have communication skills. However, these skills should not just be at a basic level but rather at an advanced level, approaching the highest possible proficiency.

All of this is because a PM needs to be able to:

  • Convey the current state of affairs.
  • Take responsibility for decisions made (or align ideas).
  • Resolve risky or conflict situations.
  • Adjust tasks, goals, or project visions.
  • Find an approach to each party influencing the product.

For the latter, a stakeholder matrix is created, which provides information about each stakeholder, their relationship to the project, and more. Additionally, this is where the strategy that the PM applies to each individual during communication sessions is outlined.

Focus on value

Any project or product has certain advantages and value for the target audience, stakeholders, and the development team. The role of a PM is to leverage this value to drive work on the IT solution in various ways. For example:

  • Motivate the team.
  • Secure additional funding.
  • Promote a particular idea or concept.
  • Reframe a specific component.
  • Review project goals or implementation methods.

Indeed, for this purpose, the “Business Model Canvas” method is often applied. It includes descriptions of:

  • Project perspectives.
  • Goals, advantages, and risks.
  • Calculations of potential profitability and development investments.
  • Analysis of the segment and market conditions in a specific region.
  • Monetization methods, and more.

This is an important tool not only for PMs but also for BAs (Business Analysts), POs (Product Owners), investors, stakeholders, and the team. It’s where the uniqueness and value of the product are shaped, which the PM needs to convey to interested parties.

After the PM has discussed and worked on the product’s value proposition, a benefits map is created. Its role is to describe key benefits for the company, including:

  • Entering a new market.
  • Expanding the audience.
  • Growing the customer and partner base.
  • Revenue from direct or indirect monetization.
  • The potential for company scaling, and more.

The list obtained should serve as a motivating factor not only for investors from whom funding is planned to be secured but also for the company itself. This means that incentives can include both salary increases and an increase in the organization’s rating, which automatically enhances the prestige of working there.

Readiness for adaptation

The development system, as well as the project’s values and composition, can change. And it’s ok, especially when using Agile methodology. It’s important that these changes don’t catch the project manager off guard and don’t create discomfort for the entire team.

Indeed, readiness for such developments is one of the characteristics of the PM role. However, it’s not the only one. A professional should continuously analyze everything that’s happening, take into account past experience, and even plan for future perspectives.

Absolutely, having a clear understanding of why the project looks the way it does at any given moment and its potential for development is crucial. It’s not just about analysis but also about focusing on improving specific processes or the entire system based on the analysis results. This approach can yield significant benefits and positive outcomes for the project.

By “improvements” some significant changes are implied such as:

  • Reviewing the QA system and optimizing it if necessary.
  • Reevaluating requirements and adapting them.
  • Analysing the development process and introducing new concepts.
  • These are indeed important steps in enhancing a project and ensuring its success over time.

However, this is far from being all one can come across as situations can vary greatly, providing room for flexibility in project management. Even PMI (Project Management Institute) acknowledges this by offering a wide range of recommendations that can be highly situational and not always suitable for every project. However, when it comes to the toolkit and tools available for project management, there is a more consistent and reliable set of resources to draw from. These tools can help project managers adapt to the specific needs of their projects and make informed decisions.

CLD (Casual Loop Diagrams)

There is a framework called Less that describes the principles and methods of systematic thinking. Its essence lies in breaking down a problem into small chunks, establishing connections between them, and searching for an optimal solution.

Various practical and mental techniques are used here to help generate new perspectives on the situation. As a result of brainstorming and collective problem-solving, the team should identify the problem and propose a solution, such as:

  • Adding more developers with a specific skill set.
  • Increasing the number of QA specialists.
  • Breaking tasks into smaller fragments.
  • Appointing a leader to assist the team.
  • Removing a certain development principle, etc.

In summary, the PM should obtain a solution that is approved by the team and improves the overall efficiency of the collective work.


Every PM is a leader because they simultaneously work with teams, stakeholders, and more. Such a professional must lead the team, take responsibility for decisions (as well as make them), and set an example in terms of motivation, dedication to project outcomes, professional development, and more.

There are two models of project management: centralized and decentralized. In the centralized model, the role of the leader is held exclusively by the manager who leads the entire team. In the decentralized model, this role belongs to the team leader, a highly skilled specialist, and so on. In other words, in this case, leaders are everyone who has the ability to take on that role.

And such a practice is the best one without the slightest exaggeration. Although the role of the central leader is still played by the PM, it’s the decentralized model that helps organize work processes more effectively and improves the overall productivity of the team in the project.

Understanding the project and responsibilities

PMs often go beyond their duties and perform atypical tasks. This primarily happens because the professional may not fully understand the project’s goals, its components, values, or even the team.

To adapt to a project, a PM needs to review its context and establish priorities. This involves understanding the client, product, value, and concept, and optimizing algorithms and methodologies accordingly.

The experts at E5 recommend using the PMI Radar tool. While it may not cover all project planning needs, it can help select a development methodology, such as Waterfall, Kanban, Agile, and so on.

An important point to note is that the initial development setup is not final: between sprints or specific project stages, the PM should review the overall concept and modernize it. Only by doing so can you build a genuinely effective, productive, and successful project development process.

QA integration into all processes

This aspect should be perceived more broadly than typical testing operations, automation, support, and so on. It’s a global issue that concerns the entire project. For example, organizing processes or scenarios, fine-tuning interaction algorithms among all project participants, and so forth.

In general, the question of project quality is based on two pillars:

  • Processes: This includes their setup, optimization, modernization, adaptation, structuring, and the use of specific methodologies, among other aspects.
  • Metrics: This involves the implementation of performance and efficiency checks, their analysis, optimization, and short-term improvements.

Thanks to the latter, the PM constantly monitors the state of development, its “health,” and makes informed decisions to improve specific aspects of the project.

Complexity Analysis

This process should be carried out by the PM on an ongoing basis to adapt the team and successfully deliver the project within the established timelines. Various methodologies are used for this purpose.

As characterized by PMI, these can involve breaking the project into smaller fragments, product assimilation, balancing, and reframing. However, one of the simplest solutions is considered to be product prototyping, for example, through tools like Figma.

PM aligns this prototype with the client (stakeholder) and then makes changes to the project if they are in line with the agreements.

Working with risks

PMs work with risks. This is an industry-standard axiom (even according to PMI). These risks can relate to both team management and the project itself – changes in concept, new decisions, or even market fluctuations.

While it may not be directly within the PM’s responsibilities, risk management (RM) takes care of that, it’s important to create collaboration between these roles to avoid critical issues for the project.

It is recommended to address risks for larger cycles, such as the upcoming quarter. During this process, teams discuss these risks and strategies to mitigate them.

Adaptability and Resilience

A PM must respond resiliently to any challenges and adapt themselves and the team to any changes. For this purpose, the PDCA cycle is used, which establishes reaction strategies and algorithms at various levels. For example:

  • Each cycle should end with a retrospective.
  • Each cadence should end with a retrospective.
  • Each presale should end with a retrospective.
  • Each project (especially unsuccessful ones) should end with a retrospective.

This allows for the analysis of team and management activities, identifying weaknesses, localizing them, and working on resolving issues.

Change Management

This is a mandatory component of the typical PM process. Various tools are used for change management, such as Kotter’s model. This allows for creating the content of the changes and justifying them. Accordingly, PM can find support for implementing concepts, create a vision for the project’s development vector, and more.

In addition to the mentioned points, there should be meetings with stakeholders and teams where barriers to change implementation are addressed.

It’s also important to demonstrate short-term benefits to motivate the team to bring certain ideas to life. Furthermore, the project should be supported on an ongoing basis, meaning periodic reporting of results and showcasing achievements.

For working with stakeholders, you can even use gamification methods, taking the conditional model of Jurgen Appelo’s “Management 3.0.” There are numerous templates available, as well as an interesting concept of “change management” within this framework.

In summary

A project manager is a responsible role that combines aspects of a leader, business analyst (BA), risk manager (RM), project manager (PM), and more. The specialist shoulders over 12 duties, each of which is critical if not crucial to the project. Effective management is a complex set of processes that play a vital role in the viability of a future project.

If you want to master the role of PM in the short term, realize your ambitions, and build a successful career, we invite you to the Project Management course.