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8 Important Project Management Skills

Chris Fowler
Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.
・3 min read

Project management is not an easy job. Even more difficult, that project is delegated to a team of your choosing, given specific goals to achieve over a defined timeline for a determined budget.

In fact, it’s several not-easy jobs, including the initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing of a project. Below we’ve collected the top 8 skills every project manager should have. If you have these, you have the foundation on which to build a successful career in project management.

1. Leadership

As a project manager you’re responsible not only for seeing the project through to a successful completion, but you’re leading a team to achieve that goal.

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Remember that project leadership comes in different styles, one of which will suit your personality. It’s a bit of a slippery skill in that some believe you’re born with leadership skills and that they can’t be taught. This requires you to motivate and mediate when necessary.

2. Communication

You can’t be an effective leader if you’re not able to articulate what it is you need your team to do. Communications really go hand-in-glove with leadership. But you’re not only going to be communicating with your team, you’ll need to have clear communications with everyone associated with the project, from vendors and contractors to stakeholders and customers.

3. Scheduling

The only way to achieve the goals of the project within the timeframe that has been decided on is to breakdown that goal into tasks on a timeline. Now we’re starting to get into some of the hard skill sets required of project managers, and few are as essential as knowing how to create a project schedule.

That’s scheduling, and it’s the heart of what a project manager does: setting up a realistic schedule and then managing the resources to keep on track so the project can be successfully concluded on time.

4. Cost Management

Your first job is to make sure that budget is realistic and can meet the financial needs of the project, and, secondly, controlling those costs through the execution of the project. This is easier said than done.

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You can’t do anything without the money to pay for it. You have created a budget. Unless you are lucky and work for an organization with unlimited funds, you’re going to have certain financial constraints, and more likely, be given a very tight budget.

5. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is simply being as objective as you can in analyzing and evaluating an issue or situation, so that you can form an unbiased judgement. Project managers aren’t the only ones who could benefit from this skill. It’s not such a bad thing. You can sometimes be on autopilot, but you better know how to switch it off.

You’re faced with problems every day when you’re working on a project, and you want your decisions to be impartial. Most of us are not thinking, but reacting and following a series of responses that we’ve either been told or learned.

6. Task Management

If scheduling is bedrock to project management, than tasks are mortar that holds everything together. Here’s another one of those technical skills that should be stamped onto the DNA of every project leader.

There are going to be tons of these pesky little jobs for you to create, assign, and manage – some of which will be dependent on others, meaning that mismanagement of this process can severely impact the success of your project.

7. Quality Management

Quality management is overseeing the activities and tasks that are required to deliver a product or service at the stated level indicated in the project paperwork. Most of these skills are obvious, right?

It’s basically a part of your job that you might never have given a name to or worse, you’ve been neglecting in favor of meeting deadlines. But quality management is one that is often overlooked by project leaders, and it’s one that needs to get more attention.

8. Have Patience

Projects take time, from research to planning, they need to be thoroughly thought through in order to run smoothly. Nothing is solved by rushing through a project or getting frustrated when things don’t go as planned.

While time is a constraint, if you speed through the process you’re going to make mistake. That’ll make you frustrated, which leads to more mishaps.

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