10 Must-Have Project Management Skills for IT Professionals
Project management is one of the most rewarding and sought-after skills for IT professionals. It offers excellent opportunities for growth. By managing your own project effectively and efficiently, you show the organization that you are a productive member of the team, and by managing team projects, you show that you are leadership material. It is a tricky set of skills to acquire though. A successful project manager is one who can undertake, define, organize, and manage the project from initiation to completion. This article explains the 10 must-have project management skills for a project manager to be effective and successful.
1. Timeline Management
Every project has a timeline, and every project manager should know how to create and manage project timelines. Scheduling or timeline management is about identifying different project deliverables and creating milestones so that each deliverable integrates with the next one. The timeline helps the project manager to break down the project into specific tasks and plan the time required to complete each stage. Gantt charts are useful tools that project managers should use to set up a project schedule and monitor the completion of different stages of the project.
2. Cost Management
Along with timeline management, cost management is a critical skill for project managers. A good Project Management Certification includes cost management as a core subject. For every project, the project manager needs to create a budget and allocate costs for different parts of the project. To do this, the project manager should anticipate the direct and indirect costs of the project, as well as the financial return of the project in order to justify the investment. More importantly, the manager should monitor the costs and ensure that the team does not cross any budgetary limits or controls.
3. Job Management
Job management is another important skill for a project manager. Job management involves listing all the possible jobs and tasks for each part of the project, assessing their complexity and assigning resources for their completion. He or she should determine the priority for each job and ensure that each job is completed in time for the next one to begin. The project manager should assign relevant people to each job and track their performance. Where necessary, the project manager should facilitate collaboration between the individuals and teams working on different project tasks.
4. Risk Management
Risk is an integral part of any project, and project managers need to identify and manage these risks. While it is possible to eliminate some risks by assigning more resources to a project, others may need to be controlled or avoided. These techniques can be learned through a Project Management Certification. Risk applies to every stage of the project life cycle. Managing these risks is essential for project success because these may interfere with project execution and completion at any stage.
5. Strategic Thinking
While project managers may be drawn from any specific department of the organization, they always need to rise above their specialization and adopt a strategic view of the project. The project manager needs to visualize the relationship between the project goals and organizational goals. He or she needs to assess the impact of the project on the firm’s bottom line. More importantly, the project manager needs to identify people with the relevant skills and knowledge from different parts of the organization.
Negotiation is something that project managers undertake all the time. This involves doing everything from negotiating prices with suppliers to gaining commitments from different stakeholders of the project. The project manager needs to be firm yet diplomatic under all kinds of conditions. The key to strong negotiation skills is knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses and possessing strong communication skills. Project managers should also be expert conflict managers as these are must project management skills and are necessary for defusing any stress caused by disagreements.
7. Leadership Skills
Leadership is a key skill for a successful project manager. The project manager should assume responsibility not only for the successful completion of the project but also for maintaining productive relationships with every member of the project team. Project managers should know how to motivate their team with a clear vision for the project and to resolve disputes between them. They should also put in place reward mechanisms and communication systems to maintain the morale of the team.
8. Team Building Skills
Every project requires a competent and committed team to take it from initiation to completion. The key skill of the project manager is to create and develop the team so that it can complete the project successfully. Must project management skills include the ability to recruit members from different functions of the organization, assign them tasks, and responsibilities, define their roles in the team, and provide resources to every member. Moreover, he or she should implement conflict management systems to ensure that the team focuses on increasing their productivity.
9. Problem-Solving Skills
A project manager may encounter problems and challenges at any stage of the project. To overcome this, the manager needs to possess strong problem-solving skills. Defining the problem clearly and communicating this to everybody on the project team is the first requirement. This is followed by the ability to undertake a situation analysis, root cause analysis, identification and comparison of alternatives, and selection of the best solution to the problem. Identifying relevant sources of data and interpreting them in a meaningful way is also essential for effective problem-solving.
10. Reporting Skills
The culmination of a project is the production of the final project report. Regardless of success or failure, the project report documents each stage of the project, enumerating the challenges and providing a record of the development of the project. It serves as a check to monitor project performance as well as a guide for other project managers. The project manager should be skilled in writing reports that provide relevant and accurate information in a highly organized and accessible way.
A successful project manager is an all-rounder who possesses a range of communication, leadership, and technical skills. More importantly, people skills and teamwork are essential for managing people with diverse skills and backgrounds. These skills develop over time as the project manager gains experience of different projects in different contexts and learns to use a variety of tools.
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