Project Management Skills You Absolutely Need
There are certain project management skills that are more valuable to a team than others. These are the skills that separate the project manager from any other developer, manager, or contributor and highlight the PM’s value to the organization.
This catch-all term is a lot more complex than just getting along with team members (although this is very important). It means being able to read people’s moods and assess morale. It means knowing your team members’ individual strengths and how best to make use of them. It means being able to face stressful interpersonal conflicts and handle them in a diplomatic fashion. Client dealings are much affected by a project manager’s people skills too, and may mean the difference between a cancelled project and an extended contract.
Time Management Skills
In an environment where the client pays by the hour, time management becomes an essential project management skill. It’s not just his own time that a project manager takes care of—it’s his team’s. He has to be able to accurately judge and assess performance based on hourly progress, and make adjustments when things clearly aren’t going to work (or if there is a way to run it better). Also, the project manager has to be able to anticipate and work around unforeseen problems to deliver the project on time.
Effective planning is one of the cornerstones of a project manager’s skill set. A project manager has to be able to see the big picture. He needs to look beyond the individual tasks and see how they all add up. Without this larger view, the project manager is no different from an individual team member, and is not effective. A project team can’t function properly without some sort of structure, and it is up to the project manager to provide it.
This is the holy trinity of project management skills. They are all essential, and all interrelated. How, you ask? Let’s take this example. A project manager encounters a new issue that needs to be addressed immediately and incorporates it into the project timeline (organizational skills). He then assesses his team member’s strengths and assigns the members most suited for the job (people skills). The project manager then adjusts the rest of the team’s workload and task assignments to compensate, while ensuring that the timeline is not aversely affected (time management skills).
Wait. Why aren’t technical skills on this list? Because contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be technically gifted in order to lead. You are hiring your team members for their skill, and you should be left alone to focus on what really matters the most: keeping everyone on track and on schedule.
Vadim Katcherovski is the CEO of Logic Software Inc. based in Toronto, Canada. He has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry and has managed dozens of software development projects.