Since leading a project is more challenging than it looks, a Project Manager (PM) encompasses many responsibilities and skills. Nowadays, almost everything with which we interact involves project management. I bet you didn't know that! Apps, software, and digital projects have something in common: project management. So, what are its essential skills?
What is a Project Manager?
A Project Manager seeks the project's welfare. The PM teams are in charge of making the right decisions to bring projects to life. It's good to remember that trust is vital at any step of the road! A good PM must be able to earn the respect and trust of the entire work team.
In this sense, a Project Management role contemplates several roles and tasks. The first is defining leadership and creating an assertive and effective communication group. It also needs to ensure project scopes are doable and accomplishable. It relies on critical thinking skills, meeting deadlines, and solving problems interactively and creatively. Due to the latter, it's no surprise that adaptability is vital for any Project Manager.
A Project Manager is in charge of managing and supervising projects from start to finish! They know all the data regarding a project as they hold the project sponsor's charter. Therefore, they can get hands-on and take control of the project's tasks and any emerging roadblock. Likewise, PMs keep the team motivated throughout the project's lifecycle.
Project Manager vs. Product Manager
Sometimes, people need clarification on these two terms. But don't get puzzled! A Product Manager understands the customers and how to meet their needs with a product. Likewise, a Project Manager is responsible for project success. However, that's a topic for another article. Let's continue with what skills a PM must have.
Skills for Successful Project Management
We can divide critical Project Management skills into hard and soft skills.
Hard Skills for Project Management
Hard Skills are competencies acquired through study or experience in a profession (quite hard, isn’t it?). Technical skills are the knowledge that enables high-quality and successful results:
● Scheduling and Planning. Project Managers need to identify general and specific objectives. Similarly, they must be able to develop schedules, assign resources, and handle risk administration. PMs are also in charge of merging the project's financial and budgetary logic. This edge includes respecting the financing limit granted for the project. As mentioned above, contingency and risk mitigation plans are essential in risk management. The potential risks may vary by industry, with legal, commercial, and reputation as some examples.
● Project Management Approach. There are many Project Management methodologies, with Agile and Scrum as some of the most known. It’s necessary to consider the different approaches because not all projects are the same! Therefore, not all methods apply to all projects. In that matter, Knowing the available tools is vital in the Management processes. It would be best to keep you updated and follow Project Management certifications. Last but not least, Quality Management compliance is a crucial edge. So, as a PM, you'll need to follow quality standards from the start.
Soft Skills for Project Management
Hard skills are only half the things needed to be a successful PM. Soft Skills are also essential to the package and include interpersonal skills.
● Leadership and Communications. An effective Project Manager is in charge of leading a work team. They must manage delivery times, budgets and follow quality standards. A leader is not the one who commands; he is the one who guides. So, a PM must be able to motivate, communicate, and mediate any problem. Further, PMs must communicate with the entire team to get relevant data during the project. In this way, it is possible to offer good feedback. The goal is to know how to communicate the recent progress on the project; clearly and precisely. The information must reach all project stakeholders.
● Negotiation and Resolution. Negotiation is essential. A good PM negotiates deadlines, resources, and scope, while problem-solving enters the negotiation state. Managers can request more resources to optimize the delivery time. On the other hand, A PM is like a juggler; they handle multiple projects simultaneously! Hence, they have the challenge of maintaining sight of the essentials. Prioritization and delegating activities are part of the organization. Being a juggler also means the PM is responsible for solving problems without worrying the stakeholders. Thinking must be analytical, creative, and communicative. A Project Manager must have soft skills like adaptability, critical thinking, and patience.
These skills include emotional behaviors and technical concepts!
Most Common Problems in Project Management
As seen in this article, managing projects can be quite a challenge! When working in this Software Development field, some critical issues can arise. We classified them into three categories to ease the understanding and find solutions. Let's dive in!
● Scope Slide in Project Management. It's essential to define the project's scope from the beginning. Don’t forget to get all documents and requirements from scratch. To avoid scope slippage, try to get involved with stakeholders. It’s essential to know their needs precisely and understand your expectations. This mechanism saves time, money, and drastic changes during the project. Also, stay focused on the initial plan! Constant change requests can create higher costs and setbacks.
● Bad Communication in Project Management. Communication can be a main problem leading to project delays and decline. To overcome a lousy communication streak, you can start by asking stakeholders what type of communication they prefer, especially how they prefer to receive the transmission and the other elements. Consider assertive and, above all, physical communication with stakeholders and team members. Thanks to body language, communication in person or through video calls enhances deep understanding. Also, create a communication plan! Requesting feedback from team members and stakeholders helps to keep the communication plan on.
● Financial Setbacks in Project Management. According to Wellington, at least 43% of companies complete their projects within budget. A project must have a balance between time and the initial budget. We must remember the value of stocks and long-term financial success. Some adverse conditions include overspending, bad expense tracking, and higher-cost risk management.
You should start by documenting risks, costs, and benefits to solve these problems. Further, expenses must go through prior notifications to Demonstrate costs. Since the Project Manager approves the prices and budget, it’s vital to manage the reserve properly. You can also study the extra costs and prevent such expenses in future projects!
How To Be a Successful Project Manager?
Looking to be the best Project Manager you can be? There are specific tips to increase your game! First of all, practice is everything! Strengthen your knowledge before undertaking large-caliber projects. Also, the internet has a tremendous amount of related data! Take advantage of the vast available administration and management tools and software!
Likewise, there are articles, podcasts, and books on the internet to improve your skills. Digital materials are a great source to get the depths of management in a more up-to-date way. And, of course, work experience is vital. It includes running internships, volunteering, and part-time work. Don’t be afraid to dive into real-world challenges and ask questions to other managers!
Like all fields, it’s essential to keep updated with news and trends for Project Managers! Try to be in touch with new tech and methodologies. Attending talks, meetings, and courses to refresh basic knowledge can help you improve your game. As long you combine hard and soft skills with commitment and communication, you’re one step closer to being a better PM!