Project management encompasses a large range of skills; leadership, planning, scheduling, communicating, decision making and being a visionary. Being able to identify these vital skills and fully develop your understanding of these abilities will ensure that you not only survive, but you excel within the field of project management.
The role of a project manager takes on many forms, and due to this; organisation and planning skills are listed highly as required abilities. Of course there are very few professions that do not require extensive planning, but project management demands a highly skilled approach as a skilful execution equates to outstanding results.
Project management requires the preparation of project documentation, requirement information, memos, project reports, personnel reports, vendor quotes, contracts and the supervision of the entire processes involved. An essential part of daily working includes organising meetings, developing teams and also, in some cases, organising media relations such as press releases and conferences.
Methodologies such as the PRINCE 2 (an acronym for projects in controlled environments, version 2) enables project managers to organise and control the six major variable factors of any project, these factors are cited as:
Much of the benefit of the PRINCE 2 methodology is its transferable and highly scalable nature. PRINCE 2 can be utilised across any project, including highly specialised and industry specific models (engineering models or developmental lifecycles).
People management skills
Strong project managers should display excellent people management skills. The human dimension bears little relation to the technical ability of an individual, but closely relates to leadership, conflict resolution and ultimately communication. Author and expert within the area of project management Steven Flannes, actually cites that, 80% of project management success comes from people skills and 20% from technical expertise.
Why are people skills so vital?
- The cyclical and stage nature of projects
- Increase in complexity of client remits
- Continual outsourcing of finite and cost effective resources
- Increased movement toward client driven project management structure
- Challenges of leading in matrix management structures
- Increase of virtual team coordinated efforts
Often, problems that project managers are faced with are completely unrelated to their technical competence, but interestingly it is the lack of interpersonal communication skills that pose the largest threat. The latter of course is an essential facet, but is vitally a core skill of a project manager.
It is argued that project managers who demonstrate a high degree of technical expertise are actually hindered within their ability to negotiate. Often great project managers take a more generalist point of view. Generalists, typically, elicit a higher degree or resourcefulness and tend to lean toward being more open to suggestions and ideas. This in turn increases the momentum of a project due to the fact that compromises have a higher degree of continuity.
Adversely to this notion, experts within a particular field tend to display a narrower mind-set that may or not be conducive to the end result.
An exhaustive breakdown of project activities and associated costs enable the project manager to identify trends quickly and plan pro-actively. Although, no project manager is expected to be an accountant but a thorough understanding of the “estimated cost process” clearly would be listed as integral. Cost planning is not only vital for your reputation, but also for maintaining strong and healthy relationships with clients.
Estimated costs should take into consideration for the entire lifecycle of the project. A detailed cost breakdown of resources (labour and materials) along with any regulatory implications should be undertaken. The cost analysis process should also insure against other extraneous factors. An estimated cost analysis must include all factors fixed and variable; this will essentially ensure that the entire project runs efficiently, effectively and to budget.
James King is a construction industry expert who has 20 years’ experience in the field of core cutting project management. He writes for Corecut, the UK’s leading diamond drilling and controlled demolition company.