Five Essential Project Management Skills
A project is temporary in the sense that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and also has defined scopes and resources. A project is unique as well, because of the reason that it is not a routine operation, rather a specific set of operations designed and accumulated to accomplish a singular goal. So in short, Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.
Project management is not an easy task to do. In fact, it is a collection of several not-easy jobs including the initiation, planning, executing, controlling and closing of a project in a determined budget and limited timeline. A project may also include people who don’t usually work together, which makes it even tougher for a Project Manager. So if you are a project manager who is committed to developing own skills, here are top five essential Project Management Skills:
There is no alternative to leadership in the list of essential skills of project management. Every project needs a leader who supports the process, the team and the client. But being a leader is not always about creating a feel-good vibe for the teams- you have to enforce process and keep everyone on the team in line too. So it’s necessary to make sure that you’re leading rather than just managing which leads to creating a vision and a roadmap towards success and serving your team to get there.
It often does not go very well when the project manager wants to command the team directly. Rather, the best result can be achieved when s/he understands the team, knows their work style and preferences and motivates them to give their best.
Communication really goes hand in glove with leadership. One of the basic skills for project management is the capacity to communicate well- understanding and being understood. The Project Management Institute suggests that a project manager should spend 90 percent of their time communicating! Because it is not only about speaking to and hearing from people, it’s about understanding the complete message. And you are not only communicating with the team, but you also need to have clear communications with everyone associated with the project from vendors to contractors to stakeholders and customers. Communication won’t be effective unless the person you are communicating with is understanding your point. Frequent and effective communication will guarantee that everybody is on the same page.
Project managers can use some collaboration and communication tools like Trello, Dropbox, Jira, PivotalTracker etc. for better project management.
- Planning skills:
Planning is a core project management skill. But surprisingly many managers do not pay much attention on planning. In actual, how is a project manager without a plan? Proper planning means everything from start to end. You need to get the right to create great meeting plans, statement of works, estimate timelines, resource plans, and brief. And most importantly- planning out your day. To whom you are going to talk first or how will you manage to keep your documents up to date. To master the skill of planning you need to plan to the extent so that you are always ten step ahead and know ‘what’s next’. So you’ll be prepared not only for the success but the disasters too.
Agile is a useful process to follow to get the project done perfectly on time. The manager can create sprints and divide the whole task into smaller targets and assign those to different team members. In this way, the progress can be tracked easily and there is less chance to miss anything out.
Good negotiation skill is kind of a subset of communication, but this one deserves more space. A lot of this communication has to do with negotiating the use of resources, budgets, schedules and a variety of other compromises that can’t be avoided. To master the skill of proper negotiation is looking for that middle ground- working out compromises so everyone that matters feels like they’ve won.
- Risk Management:
Project managers are always an easy target when the project goes wrong. One gets the skill of risk management through experience. It’s actually understanding what could go wrong and having the humility to ask your team too. As early as you identify the risk, your task becomes much easier. But it’s not the end, risk identification must be followed by a risk plan for what can be done with those. So you need to identify the risk and start working against it before it becomes an issue. And also come out with a fixed solution to nullify the effects if it ever becomes an issue.
More importantly, the project manager must think about what is best for the project itself. Because, sometimes, even the project owner can expect something in the mid of the project, which can be harmful. In such situations, it is the duty of the project manager to make the owner understand the situation rather than just to follow the commands.
Project management is a job that demands a huge skill set. Besides all of the above-mentioned skills task management, time management, scheduling, critical thinking etc are also necessary to manage a project in a better way. A little bit of sense of humor can make your communication with the team even easier and fruitful. Starting with sharpening your practices with each coming day in each and every skill set and incorporating them into your work can make the job easier.