Projects are great for implementing big and meaningful changes in a short period of time. They are easier to monitor and results can be measured more accurately to understand how they benefitted the business. It is no surprise that managers are increasingly relying on team leaders who are capable of running and managing projects effectively.
There are certain key skills that differentiate a good project manager from a great project manager. The aim of PMI certification is to teach these skills to project managers of the future to make them more effective leaders. In this blog, we cover 7 must-have project management skills that every project manager needs.
1. Project Leadership
Every business project from the smallest to the largest is run by a group of people. The project manager must have the capability to bring people together and coordinate their efforts to achieve the project goal.
The project leader must be able to offer guidance and a vision for the team. They should be able to motivate people, keep track of their progress and understand the bigger picture.
Quite often, a project leader will have to set up deputies to complete certain tasks within the project. The project leader must have the ability to recognize which team members will be suitable for taking responsibility within the project.
2. Communication Ability
Project leaders must have good communication skills. These include the ability to both listen and speak to the project team. A good communicator can resolve problems and conflict within the group. A project manager with good communication ability can also build support from key stakeholders.
A project manager who lacks the ability to communicate with the team and external stakeholders will often find it difficult to organize resources and struggle to get the team to coordinate their efforts.
Project managers must also possess the ability to read and understand advanced technical reports. This is important for technical projects, such as those requiring an upgrade to a more advanced software platform.
3. Project Organization
Almost every new project starts from zero. The project manager must be able to organize people and resources and put them to use. They must be very practical, open-minded and proactive.
The initial stage in every project is the most important where the manager will need to set tasks for the team members. They will need to work with suppliers to arrange materials and communicate with the project financers to get the funding it needs.
The project manager must have the ability to multi-task and pay attention to several stakeholders. They will need to be organized enough to manage their own time and prioritize tasks based on importance to the project.
4. Planning, Forecasting, and Budgeting
Before a project is approved, the project manager is required to submit a plan of action. This plan includes the timeline of the project, the required funding and any other resources that must be spent.
The project manager must have good budgeting and forecasting ability to come up with a feasible plan. They should have a certain level of knowledge about material and labor costs in the market. The manager must also be aware of how long it takes to complete tasks In order to come up with an estimate of the project timeline.
The project manager needs to strike a good balance between what is actually deliverable and the investor’s expectations. If the project manager creates a long timeline and high funding requirement to be safe, they may not get the project approved by the management.
On the other hand, if the project manager submits a forecast that has a very short deadline and low funding requirement, they may get the project but will not be able to get it completed within time and budget. This could end up backfiring. If the project costs and duration go extremely over what has been promised, the project manager will lose credibility.
5. Problem-Solving Skill
Almost every project goes through setback and problems that make it difficult to complete it on time or within the allocated resources. The project manager must have the skill to anticipate what could go wrong and have a plan on how to resolve issues.
The majority of problems in a project stem from risks that can be identified during the scoping process. Ordinary problems are understood and the project manager creates a strategy on how they will guard against sudden, unexpected changes in the environment.
6. Ability to Adapt
A project manager must have the ability to be fluid and change their priorities with changing customer requirements. It may seem reasonable to develop a project plan and then strictly follow it to get everything completed according to the plan. But if the environmental circumstances change significantly, then it may be easier and less costly to change the project.
Here’s a good example. Many businesses undertake efforts to improve their digital operations by significantly updating existing software platforms. What happens if an effort to change the company’s systems is underway and then a new and much better software platform comes into the market?
The project manager must have the ability to review the new system and determine if it would be better and less costly to switch to the new platform instead of continuing with the implementation of the previously chosen software program.
If a project manager is unable o adapt to changed circumstances they may not be able to get the best value for the business
7. Time Management and Prioritization
Projects rely on two types of activities. The first priority is given to core activities that can only be completed in succession, one after the other. These activities are critical to complete the project on time. The second type of activities can be completed at any time and they are not critical to the completion of the project on time.
The project manager must be able to identify the critical activities and prioritize their completion to ensure the project gets delivered on time. The project manager must be good at managing their time and be able to understand how different project components affect one another.