Project management is a recurring obligation of managers and is necessary to ensure the efficient use of resources (including human resources) and finances. In essence, project management involves managers determining the materials needed to accomplish a particular goal, the human resources needed for the project, each team member’s assignment for the project, and the deadlines that need to be met. The manager must also provide leadership so that the project remains on-scope, on-time, and on-budget. Project managers often utilize software programs to help design schedules, track progress, and to help itemize the resources, tasks, and materials needed by the project.
Typically, a project is a one-time, nonrecurring task that is outside the ordinary course of business. Projects are intended to meet the unique organizational needs that cannot be met within the context of customary and usual activities. Projects are also time limited with a distinct beginning and end, and require some degree of change or shift in operations. In the field of criminology, for example, projects may include adding a new division or discipline, seeking government accreditation, installing a major upgrade of equipment, or constructing new facilities.
A project manager is a person who plays the leadership role throughout the development of a project. The person in this position is responsible for giving directions to the various parties involved, facilitating communication, and ensuring the participation of all of the team members. S/he is ultimately responsible for the success of the job (Schwalbe).
It is the role of a project manager to ensure that the project is defined in its entirety and that team members are assigned to complete the project in a timely fashion. A project manager’s responsibilities also extend to monitoring and controlling the project budget, providing adequate communication to all involved, and ensuring that the product of the project is delivered as specified.
For example, state crime labs may have projects that are the product of legislative mandates and are often politically driven. In a situation where an investigative reporter reveals inadequacies in the state crime lab or other negative press events occur, political bodies may be reactive instead of proactive. State-run crime labs are bound to procurement methods dictated by state law or regulation. All of these elements can impact how the project manager will initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control, and close the project.