Necessary Project Management Skills
Being a project manager can be a very challenging and rewarding job, actually it can be a number of challenging jobs all rolled into one. This is because there are many facets to the project, such as initiation, planning execution, controlling and the project closure. Even more difficult, at times, the project manager may have a team delegated and is not afforded the opportunity to choose who should be included.
There are a number of skills a project manager needs to portray in order to be successful, there are the obvious ones such as technical, business and management skills, but there are also soft skills which are required. Project managers don’t only deal with governance, processes and systems but there is the human factor to consider. It can be said that to be a successful project manager, building and maintaining strong relationships across the organisation is a requirement.
There are many other aspects necessary in the project manager’s arsenal to ensure they keep on top of the daily challenge and are successful in their careers. In short there are a number of necessary skills a project manager must have in order to be successful; the following are just a few.
As a project manager you’re responsible not only for seeing the project through to a successful completion, but you’re leading a team to achieve that goal. This requires you to motivate and mediate when necessary. Remember that project leadership comes in different styles, one of which will suit your personality. It’s more than managing tasks; it’s managing people.
Effective leadership can only work if points can be articulated well, that is being able to communicate with the team for task allocation. To achieve this clear communication with vendors, contractors to stakeholders and customers is needed. This can be achieved through reporting tools, collaboration via chat, file sharing, and other means to tag discussions at the task level, both systems should be in place to facilitate communications. These tools also help connect people one-to-one and in group settings, such as meetings and presentations.
It is essential for a project manager to understand, create and interpret project schedules. The only way to achieve the milestones of the project within the time frame that has been decided is to breakdown those milestones into tasks on a timeline. That’s scheduling, and it’s the heart of what a project manager does: setting up a realistic schedule and then managing the resources to keep on track so the project can be successfully concluded on time. There are many tools that can help with this process, the main one being Gantt Charts which provides a visual of the schedule with tasks, durations, dependencies, resource allocation and milestones.
Planning a project, regardless of size has an associated element of risk. It’s part of the job to see those issues before they become problems. Therefore, before executing the project, its identification, access and control must be considered. The more a risk can be managed, the more likely the project is going to succeed. During the life of a project unexpected risks can eventuate, this is normal, to alleviate the impact of the risk a process should be in place to handle those when they come up.
Financials is a very important part of any project, as nothing can be delivered without an allocated budget. Ensure the budget is realistic and can meet the financial needs of the project, and, secondly, controlling those costs through the execution of the project. There are normally constraints applied to any project, understanding how to squeeze out every cent of those funds is a great skill to have.
The ability to negotiate, considered part of communication, hence why being able to communicate on all levels is a must have skill. Regardless negotiating has its own place; it is more than just trying to obtain the best price from a vendor or contractor. Negotiating the scope, timeframe and budget from the stakeholder is just as important. To some degree the need for diplomacy is also needed, so all parties involved have a sense of satisfaction on the outcome. Having strong negotiating skills can resolve disputes before they blow up and threaten the project.
Avoid being reactive should an issue arise, critical thinking is being as objective as possible when analysing and evaluating an issue or situation. Forming an unbiased judgement, avoiding acting on emotions or from perceived knowledge. Problems can occur from anywhere at any time when working on a project, understanding how to be impartial during decision making can only assist with the project.
A project is made up of many different tasks, which need creation, resource assignment and managing, this goes hand in hand with scheduling. Mismanagement of this process can severely impact a projects success. Composing a to-do list is normally beneficial, where complexity can be added as tasks are identified. Using tools to manage these tasks more efficiently features in your task management tool that foster team collaboration, help with prioritization and provides instant status updates when tasks have been completed or are running behind.
Quality Management shouldn’t be overlooked, as it relates to the ability to oversee activities and tasks. Which are required to deliver a product or service as indicated in the project scope. Staying on schedule is important, but that schedule is pointless if it produces something that is subpar.
Ability to smile
Project management can be a stressful profession, the ability to take a breath and smile provides a different perspective on the job, people and issues. It can relieve stress and tension, when lifted can enable smarter actions, ideas and lift morale. Avoiding a stifling environment can get the best from the delivery team. As the leader, the project manager can set or at least influence the culture of the workplace, a lighter mood can remove tension from the work place.
Having the right tools available can enhance skill set and make the project team more efficient and productive. Projectmanagmentcompanion.com has tools available which help schedule, manage tasks, budgets and team collaboration. Try one of the tools for yourself by taking a free 30 day trial.