Gone are the days when this role was seen as dispensable and even resisted as one more variable that increased the project cost. Today, the PM (project manager) role is crucial; and it gains more importance as software products become critical for organizations.
Many companies now consider that PMs add to the probability of success. In Making Sense’s experience, clients themselves must be now highlighting the importance of the PM role. Explaining and trying to convince them about their importance is no longer necessary.
What has changed?
The repositioning of the role is no longer merely tactical but purely strategic. PMs used to focus mainly on the technological aspect of the product; today, they are responsible for aligning the project’s objectives with the business purpose. And that’s just the beginning. There are at least five other reasons why today’s customers love PMs.
Reason 1: They are excellent mediators
Historically, customers did not have access to the product development process. It was like a black box that was closed just after the statement of requirements, and then reopened with each new release.
Today, PMs act as mediators between the parties. Their development team understands the business goals, how, and why the product is being created (and when needed). And most importantly, customers also understand what is happening in the process and how the chosen technologies can help generate a better customer experience, increase efficiency and profitability or optimize their operations.
The back and forth also minimizes friction and addresses dynamic changes at the customer’s end that may be demand or market-driven.
Reason 2: They always see beyond the original plan
PMs do not stay with the initial requirements. They explore untapped business or enhancement opportunities for the product to offer the maximum possible added value.
Their strategic vision does not prevent them from guaranteeing day-to-day compliance and achieving the project objectives in terms of budget, time, and scope.
Reason 3: They have your back
Experienced PMs know that problems are inevitable and can come from different angles: a team member who falls ill, an unexpected change in business conditions, or unforeseen regulatory restrictions.
However, PMs will use their skills to weather the storm and protect the project as much as possible. First, as a good communicator and an empathetic colleague, the PM will appeal to transparency and trust to explain the situation to the customer and prevent the problem from becoming a giant snowball that damages the project or the bond between the parties. And secondly, the PM will put his head, and that of his team, to work to find the best possible solution.
Reason 4: They have 360º situational awareness
The world does not end with one project or one client: a good PM uses his previous experiences, market data, trends, and competitors’ activity to devise strategies that allow the product to differentiate and stand out.
Reason 5: They know that the product and the development process can be improved
With its Lean approach, the PM is continually looking for more efficient ways of working, adapting processes to grow in efficiency and quality. On the other hand, the product is never finished. It supports the changing needs of customers, users, and businesses. In addition to ensuring that it meets the requirements defined through business functions, techniques, and user experiences (UX), among others, the PM works together with customers to determine the success metrics of each functionality, to obtain strategic information about its use, user opinions, behaviors and statistics and thus improve and increase its value.