Role and Responsibilities of a Project Lead and the Skills to Succeed

 Role and Responsibilities of a Project Lead and the Skills to Succeed

Project management is a must for a business to be productive. Projects need to be planned, monitored and evaluated carefully if they are to be completed successfully. Resources have to be identified, allocated, scheduled and utilized optimally. Budgets have to be planned and human resources have to be handled with prudence. Project management comprises a range of complex processes that help accomplish this goal. It is a challenging task and the project lead must be adept in the art of steering their team towards the successful completion of the project.

Project Lead: Role

Project owners have a common project objective and they bring people together to form teams to achieve this goal. The team may be led by a project manager, a project lead or a team leader. Each of these has divergent roles and responsibilities. Each role requires certain project management skills that help the leader guide their teams from planning to execution to completion of a project.

Any venture that requires coordination and management of projects needs a project lead – their role is vital. Every business, be it information technology, design, telecommunications or any other, has a series of projects. And the goal is always to complete these projects on time. It is the business manager’s responsibility to ensure that it happens.

Project Leader or Project Manager: Different Roles They Play

Businesses plan and execute several projects as part of their operations. All these projects have a specified set of goals and must be completed within a pre-defined time frame and budget. A team of skilled talent has to come together and work cohesively to achieve the desired outcome. And there has to be a person who leads the team towards this goal.

We often swap between the terms project lead and project manager. The two don’t refer to the same role - there is a difference between them. But they also have something in common – they both contribute to the successful delivery of the project. Before we discuss the responsibilities and skills needed for these jobs, let’s understand the distinction between these two roles.

  • A project lead oversees the planning, execution and tracking of a specific aspect of a project. It could even be a smaller and less complex project within the organization. They guide and lead their team towards fulfilling the specific project tasks assigned to them within the set timeline.

    The project lead must ensure that the project is successful by planning and monitoring the project carefully to ensure it is completed on time and within the given budget. The project plan must define the scope, timeframe and budget of the project. They must hire the right talent, assign tasks and make sure the entire team works together to implement this plan. Team members are vital to developing a project and the project lead must work closely with them.

    Project leads also work closely with project managers. They provide the project manager with regular reports on the progress of their assigned project.

  • A project manager, on the other hand, is responsible for planning and managing the entire project or even several projects concurrently. They manage the project through the entire lifecycle and are ultimately accountable for its success or failure.

    Though their roles are similar, the scope of the responsibilities of a project manager is much wider. They develop a detailed plan for the entire project and manage the resources needed to make it successful. They are responsible for the delivery of the whole project. Project managers require excellent project management skills to keep the projects on track.

Both the project manager and the project leader roles are vital for the project to be completed successfully. Here’s a quick look at the differences between the two:

Project Managers Project Leads
  • are coordinators. They work with various cross-functional teams to ensure that the project tasks and goals are completed within budget and on schedule.
  • are visionaries. They are people-centric and guide their team members to achieve all that they are capable of.
  • are responsible for the planning, execution and completion of the entire project.
  • are responsible for leading a team for a specific element of the project.
  • define the scope of the entire project, create elaborate plans, as well as identify and allocate the necessary resources to different parts of the various projects.
  • set objectives, design plans and schedules, and allocate tasks related to their aspect of the project.
  • manage various stakeholders to ensure that the projects align with the business goals.
  • guide, mentor, motivate and support their team to achieve the set goals by creating an effective work environment.
  • report to the top management and keep all stakeholders updated on the project’s status.
  • report to the project manager. They track the progress of all tasks and keep the project manager updated through progress reports.
  • manage the budget and all the resources for the project as a whole.
  • manage the budget of their part of the project.
  • run quality assurance tests on the final product
  • test product prototypes
  • are accountable for the success or failure of the entire project. They identify, manage and resolve all potential risks to keep the projects on track.
  • are responsible only for their specific element of the project.
  • need project management certification.
  • need a bachelor’s degree and experience in project management.

  • Key Responsibilities of a Project Lead

    An important role in the success of the project is played by the project leader. It is not only about planning and resource management to ensure that the project remains on track. It also involves guiding and motivating one’s team members to try their best.

    1. Planning the project: The goals, scope, budget, timelines and resources required for the project are always outlined by the project lead together with the project manager.

    2. Managing the resources: Any sort of efficient resource management is required to keep any project going. Resource allocation is carefully done by the project lead so that they can be effectively scheduled as well as used in their optimized forms. This is necessary for continuity within the plan. If there are poor controls over resource usage, it can make entire projects go astray.

    3. Managing the team: Project leads manage their teams themselves. They also organize and allot appropriate tasks to each member of their teams so that all members work well together.

    4. Leading and motivating the team: The role of a project manager is to guide and assist the members of his/her team. They create an atmosphere that will be non-threatening to their workers, thus motivating them to perform at their utmost level.

    5. Solving problems: This is among the responsibilities that come with being a project manager. The lead on the project must have good troubleshooting skills. This means being proactive in identifying likely obstacles and finding creative ways around them in order to make sure that the progress of the project does not stop.

    6. Managing risks: Another crucial element in effective project management is proactively identifying any potential risks or obstacles that may cause delays in completing the project within the timeframe. These issues must be resolved immediately by the manager.

    7. Tracking the progress of the project: Because of this, project leaders encourage team members to remain fixed on their tasks. While doing so, they keep track of what has been done so far, obtain additional resources if necessary and adjust timelines as required to ensure completion within the due date.

    8. Communicating seamlessly: He or she should keep everybody informed about how things are progressing including all people involved in this process like members of his/her team and a PM.

    9. Meeting quality standards: In terms of ensuring that projects are executed according to quality standards and deliverables meet client’s expectations, it is essential for a leader to test new product prototypes before declaring them ready for production.

    10. Managing budgets: The project lead controls all project costs to stay within the allocated budget.

    11. Generating project reports: The project lead keeps the project manager up-to-date on the progress of the project, resource utilization, and the final closure.

    Skills for an Effective Project Leader

    The project lead wears multiple hats, including those of:

    • a manager who ensures that the project is planned and executed to meet all project goals,
    • a mentor who supports and enables his team toward project success, and
    • a team memberof the larger project team who keeps the project on track and updates stakeholders on the progress made.

    A project lead needs to possess a combination of technical, business, communication, and people skills to be able to manage his/her responsibilities appropriately. Let us read on about the skills that distinguish an effective project leader:

    1. Technical competency: The project lead should have knowledge and experience in project management and must understand the technical specifications and requirements of the project. Additionally, the project lead must be aware of different collaboration and project management tools that are used by other project managers.
    2. Strong leadership and team management skills: A great leader for projects or teams motivates and inspires team members to reach their targets successfully. Assigning appropriate tasks to the right individuals is one way in which a manager can effectively utilize every employee on his or her team. To be successful, a project leader has to create a well-balanced team.
    3. Organizational skills: Also, strong organizational skills coupled with attention to detail are needed for the role of a Project Lead so as to smoothen the entire process flow. These abilities help project leads plan, structure, and organize end-to-end project development lifecycle; establish priorities; define milestones; and set up deadlines for projects.
    4. Problem-solving and critical thinking competence: A major responsibility of a project leader is to plan and develop the project plan efficiently. Critical thinking comes in handy at this point as it helps them identify possible obstacles and barriers and enables them to find creative solutions. These also make them more equipped to handle other possible ones that may arise during the project’s life cycle.
    5. Excellent time management skills: Projects always have a set timeline. Therefore, the project head should prioritize tasks and assign time for each task using time management techniques such as time blocking, among others, to keep the team on track.
    6. Exceptional communication skills: Communication is vital within a team. Information can be easily lost in big projects with many processes, tools, and people involved. If there is a clear communication plan in place, the project head can communicate effectively with all their stakeholders which include the team itself, the larger project team, the project manager, as well as management to whom he is accountable.
    7. Conflict resolution skills: The team must work together for the success of any given project. In such cases, therefore, it is up to the project head to resolve any differences that may exist, which should never allow for any delays in finishing up work.
    8. Negotiation skills: Negotiating is an art and project managers need to be adept at it. The project lead needs these skills while dealing with the client, the project manager or even his teammates.
    9. Adaptability and flexibility: Projects are dynamic and the scope may change anytime during their lifecycles. A successful project lead should be flexible and adept at handling any unexpected challenges. They should be able to reallocate resources and workloads, and rework plans quickly to meet new project demands.

    How important are project leads for the success of an organization?

    Project management is a critical element of any business today. Business managers use project management techniques to create project plans that ensure that all goals are met. A project manager is obviously integral to the success of the project, but they cannot achieve this on their own. The project lead and other team members contribute just as much to making the project a success.

    Project leads act as a bridge between the project managers (and also upper management) and the team members. They collaborate with their team to deliver their tasks on time and within budget. And they work with the project managers to ensure that the broader project goals are achieved. Effective project leads can ensure that projects meet their objectives, stay within budgets, and meet all deadlines.

    Skilled project leads are critical for any project and hence, any organization. And when they are equipped with a project management platform like eResource Scheduler, it makes working with diverse resources more effective and efficient.

    How can a project lead use project management software to support their skills?

    Efficiently managing resources, effectively working with their team, and guiding and mentoring them are of utmost importance for a project lead. They oversee all aspects of their projects and work to ensure that their team successfully completes all tasks to meet the pre-set objectives. And resource management software like eResource Scheduler makes this exercise much easier to manage.

    eResource Scheduler has a variety of features that make collaboration within teams easier. A single platform provides real-time data on resource availability, allocation, scheduling and utilization, leading to more efficient project planning. All project tasks, schedules, and timelines are posted here, allowing everyone to stay informed and aware of the progress of the project.

    eResource Scheduler comes with an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it easier to manage current projects and review previous ones. Managers can generate customized reports that provide the necessary insights to make well-informed decisions. Contact us for a free demo and find out how eResource Scheduler can help you optimize resource management for your organisation.

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    CEO & Founder
    Rudraksh Vyas
    Rudraksh Vyas, an accomplished CEO at ENBRAUN since 2011, has a proven track record in leading and growing technology-driven businesses. His expertise lies in product development, client management, and implementing effective business strategies, ensuring robust financial and resource management. Prior to his current role, Rudraksh honed his skills in business development, where he excelled in account management and export marketing. He holds a PMP certification from the Project Management Institute and an MBA in International Business from the University of Technology Sydney. Rudraksh's journey reflects a deep commitment to excellence and innovation in the tech industry, making him a respected leader and visionary in his field.

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