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Project Manager’s Role in the Project Success


Many projects fail to achieve their objectives because of several reasons. Some of the reasons identified by researchers are the poor undertaking of duties by the project officers, poor leadership of project tasks, lack of adequate resources, poor planning, lack of adequate time and the likes (Project Smart 1). Ensuring a project achieves its intended tasks is therefore not an easy task since several project areas ought to be properly managed and coordinated. Because of this need, there is usually a strong need to employ proper project management skills.

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Project management normally encompasses tasks undertaken by all project officers including the project manager and his team (Project Smart 1). The project manager, in particular, has been identified in many studies as a critical factor to project success (Project Smart 1). It is therefore paramount that for any project to succeed there ought to be a shrewd project manager. However, the roles project managers undertake to ensure project success are not clearly defined, and therefore vary from one project to another. Project success is quantified in various ways and normally, success levels are varied, and not easily determined. This has necessitated the development of various project criteria to measure project success.

From a general point of view, this study will analyze the role of project managers in the realization of project success and later, an analysis of how project rating is done will encompass the last segment of the study. This will be done by referring to at least three project examples and analyzing how they were rated, and ought to be rated. This study framework will then define a blueprint through which project managers can use to rate project performance.

Role of Project Managers

Project Smart explains that “The project manager’s role, in a nutshell, is the overall responsibility for the successful planning, execution, monitoring, control and closure of a project” (1). The project manager is therefore perceived by many project experts like the one who holds the key to the success or failure of a project. Apart from the above tasks identified by Project Smart (1), the project manager has several other roles to undertake if the successful completion of a project is to be realized. First, he or she has the role of integration management (Jacowski 1).

Such a task does not differ much from the conventional roles attributed to any person in a leadership position because the task entails the development and management of project directions. This task is augmented with the second task of scope management (Jacowski 1). This task includes roles like planning the project in its entirety and defining the scope, execution or development of the project.

Thirdly, the project manager has the role of managing time and cost as two important resources in project management (through tools like scheduling and resource allocation, which assist in the proper management of project tasks) (Jacowski 1). Fourthly, the project manager is usually mandated with the task of ensuring the project quality is within the acceptable standards (Jacowski 1). This is a critical role especially in the rating of project success because various project rating criteria are based on project quality. Fifthly, the project manager is mandated with the task of managing the human resource of the project (Jacowski 1).

This task encompasses the role of ensuring the team is properly motivated and moving in the right direction (towards project success). Another task entrusted with project managers is communication management which entails either a vertical or horizontal communication channel (Jacowski 1). This role is important because it defines how well the project will be coordinated. Lastly, the project manager is tasked with the role of risk management and procurement management (Jacowski 1). Under risk management, the project manager is supposed to identify the project risks and devise ways of mitigating them through the development of a contingency plan. Under procurement management, the project manager is tasked with the responsibility of negotiating with suppliers and vendors for the availability of project materials.

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Project Rating

Some projects often fail to realize their intended objectives and therefore suffer poor project ratings. However, those that meet the project rating criteria enjoy good project ratings. Project ratings are defined through several criteria, some of which will be identified in subsequent sections of this study. In doing so, we will study three examples of poorly rated projects and evaluate if they were correctly rated or if they could have been rated otherwise.

Example 1

Black and Veatch, a United States (US) construction company working in Afghanistan received poor project ratings for its project performance in Afghanistan (Taylor 2). Some of the contracts the company received from the US government involve the development of a power plant in Kabul and the development of a natural gas plant in Northern Afghanistan (Taylor 2). The company received poor project ratings from USAID which termed their work “unsatisfactory” because the project suffered immense delays; was of poor quality and failed to adhere to its required schedule (Taylor 2).

I would rate the project as poorly done because projects which suffer excessive delays and are of poor quality cannot enjoy good project ratings. This is according to project rating criteria developed by Government of Alberta (11) which affirms that good project ratings are only achieved if the project can be completed in the given schedule, and even if delays are experienced, they should not be excessive. Moreover, Government of Alberta (11) notes that well-rated projects cannot receive bad quality ratings by all stakeholders and because Black and Veatch received poor quality ratings by both the US government and non-governmental organizations (USAID), its performance rating was “below par”.

Example 2

Certain federal Information technology (IT) projects identified in DIANE (3), and overseen by OMB (which is a federal oversight body for such projects) were poorly rated by the US government. These projects were financed by the US government in the year 2008 (DIANE 3). Areas identified as reasons for poor rating were lack of adequate planning and poor performance of project objectives (DIANE 3). The Department of Treasury Electronic Fraud system (one of the IT projects) was especially identified as poorly performed and poorly planned (DIANE 3).

I would rate the project as unsatisfactory, considering it failed to please the client (the government). In other words, the project was ultimately inefficient and could not realize its intended purpose. This opinion is supported by IDB (11) which identifies that well-rated projects normally achieve their intended purpose and are quite efficient (when referring to their intended objectives). The project, therefore, failed to meet this criterion because the US government termed it as poorly performed and planned.

Example 3

In the recent Tsunami disaster, there was an unnamed international organization which was undertaking a project to build new houses for the local inhabitants, since their previous houses were in a deplorable state (The Charity Rater 14). The project was majorly aimed at building new toilets to replace old ones which were built near the locals’ houses, using reeds.

The toilet refuse was easily being washed away with strong tides. The project was poorly rated because it failed to change the traditional habits of the people who preferred to use the newly built structures as storage rooms, instead of toilets (The Charity Rater 14). However, the problem of the high tide washing away the refuse was solved, but other problems to do with insect infestation and sanitation concerns arose (The Charity Rater 14).

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I would rate the project as satisfactory because the problems realized after the completion of the project did not pertain to the performance of the project, but rather the traditional attitudes of the people intended to benefit from the project. For instance, the turning of the toilets into storage rooms was not a problem of the project officer but rather a communal problem which was to be solved by the government or any other relevant body. I term the project satisfactory because it was intended to stop the washing away of wastes by high tides, which it did. This analysis is supported by Stevens (2002, p. 87) who affirms that once the project achieves its intended aim, it should be termed satisfactory. The intended aim here was to avoid the toilet refuse to be washed away by tides; a problem which was solved by the project.


This study identifies that the rating of project success depends on the efficiency, implementation and effectiveness of the project. So long as the project achieves its intended objectives and is satisfactory to its intended purpose, the project ought to be perceived as having a good rating.

However, there are instances where unforeseen problems result after the realization of the project objectives (such as cultural inhibitions in project uptake). In such a situation, this study identifies that it is important to treat such factors as independent from the project rating process. With regards to the roles of the project manager, this study points out the fact that the project manager is mandated with the responsibility of evaluating, monitoring, planning, controlling and executing the project. Comprehensively these study dynamics define the roles of the project manager and project rating criteria.

Works Cited

DIANE. Information Technology; Further Improvements needed to Identify and Oversee Poorly Planned and Performing Projects. New York: DIANE Publishing, 2010. Print.

Government of Alberta. Program Criteria and Project Rating Criteria – Affordable Supportive Living Initiative (ASLI). 2011. Web.

IDB. IDB’s Projects & Operations Evaluation: Guidelines. 2011. Web.

Jacowski, Tony. The Role of Project Managers. 2011. Web.

Project Smart. Role of the Project Manager. 2011. Web.

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Stevens, Martin. Project Management Pathways. New York: APM Publishing Limited, 2002. Print.

Taylor, Marissa. Poorly Rated U.S. Contractor Criticized On More Afghan Jobs. 2011.Web.

The Charity Rater. Will We Repeat The Mistakes Made After The Tsunami? 2011. Web.

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