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5 Must Have Skills for Project Managers in 2018

Workplace experiences can be havoc. But when does that happen? When projects aren’t being completed on time. When clients get frustrated with how deliverables are not provided on time. At this hour, they need a miracle to happen. But what could that be?

That’s simple, a Project Manager.

It’s obvious that hiring a proficient manager can take time. Reason being that not all project managers have the skills to match up with client’s demands. In fact, barely over half of project managers are certified.

Companies today stress over hiring a skilled project manager. They believe that a skilled manager is the key to a successful project. They know how to allocate resources to best use and optimally utilise time.

But does it mean that projects supervised by un-certified managers are destined to fail?

Not necessarily. Being a project manager signifies that the person in charge:

  • – Needs to have a vision
  • – Knows how to communicate and collaborate eloquently
  • – Maintain effective interpersonal relationships to avoid conflict
  • – Understands that time is money
  • – Leads the team towards a shared goal.

The competitive skills determine the success of a project.  A team with no lead, running in chaos is worth no use while a team following an apt lead won’t only deliver goals but also flourish collectively and individually.

As far as basic skills for project managers are concerned, experts point to these must-have project management skills. Let’s have a look:

Leadership and Team Management   

Every project needs a proactive leader. One can’t expect fruitful results unless the team is guided and shown a productive direction. Without a leader, a project management team is just a scattered bunch of people doing whatever they like. Result: project failure, wasteful project expenses and exhausted skills!

A leader guides the team. It shows them the way to a definite, positive end result. Without this leadership, the project would fall apart. A project manager should know when to take charge, be accountable for financial and other resources, project planning and execution, task allocation, and more.

Task and team management are quite interrelated. Where tasks are delegated on the basis of team skills. A team is created according to the tasks they perform.

Besides, a good leader needs to be technologically advanced. This way they can employ simple project management software to supervise the project. Team management involves identifying individual strengths and weaknesses which helps managers in assigning the right tasks. Much of it involves negotiation with sponsors and other managers about task allocation and project completion.

Might sound smooth. But it’s a lot for one person to manage all by itself.

Risk Management

A manager needs to anticipate, define, and manage risks to ensure smooth flow of the project.

It’s his job to lead, plan, predict risk, and develop backup plans before the issues arise and impending risks directly begin to influence the project output. Whether imminent or not, risks need to be handled with care and managers need to plan ahead to devise suitable survival and growth tactics.

Stakeholders do not like surprises. If risks are managed efficiently, you can expect to grow as your project winds up.

A good project manager needs to be constantly on his toes, looking out for risks. This is true in case of undefined and unplanned risks. They tend to either delay the deliverable or become one of the reasons why projects fail. According to a study, 50% of all Project Management Offices (PMOs) close within three years. Might sound harsh, but it’s true.

Therefore, a manager should know how to mitigate risks. They should always stay updated with latest market research, environment study, and analytics. Knowing what factors led to failure will help teams avoid pitfalls and inch closer to success.


Cost Management

Did you know that 75% of business and IT executives anticipate their software projects will fail? Probably not. That’s okay. But then you may question why. That’s because either they didn’t receive sufficient funding or weren’t able to manage the activities within the set budget. These do lead to a 100% chance of project failure.

It’s important you understand, projects cost money. But a good project manager should know the art of designing a cost strategy. With a realistic strategy, a manager can indeed materialize a good project.

But to bring in better results, it’s best they use specialized apps or spreadsheets to keep an eye on project expenditure.

Task Management

Less than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and budget over the past year. That’s less. And it may even decrease further. But what can cause such results?

Poor task management.

Management may often blame those leading the team. It’s obvious they may raise questions on how the planning and execution phase were managed by project manager.

But again, how will tasks proceed if a manager doesn’t know how to manage and assign them?

Not only will it become difficult for stakeholders but also for the team working under to execute a project with success.

Therefore, managers need to understand that while scheduling remains to be a foundation for project management, task management is the glue that holds it all together. A project comprises hundreds of mini jobs. These can include task assignment, resource allocation, accessing the source of material, distributing finance, managing every team’s to-do list, and more.

Many of these tasks are interrelated with others. This shows that one’s result essentially affects the other. Thus, all tasks need to meet deadlines for projects to finish on time.

Task management has much to do with creating proper strategies for planning and organizing work. It helps to maintain consistent output. This is where managers should concentrate on delegating work better, based on team efficiency and individual talent. This results in faster delivery of deliverable. Simple efforts like making lists, using simple tasks software will assist managers in feasible task management.


It is a fact that 57 percent of projects fail due to the breakdown in communications. Therefore, many recommend to adopt lucid communication as it gets ingrained in the psyche of project managers.

A good project manager not just manages, supervises, distributes the project tasks. They are also responsible for organizing sufficient training for the team to optimize output.

One indeed needs excellent communication skills to stay in touch with the team. It can help to oversee daily and weekly performance, express expectations and disappointments without losing faith among a team.

Sometimes, the team might not be able to interpret the messages well and lose motivation. In such scenarios, the managers need to practice inspiring communication tactics to keep the team informed and motivated to perform better.

Exchange of ideas, updates regarding ongoing segments, coordination among teams is impossible without communication. Therefore, it remains to be an obligatory skill for project managers and also its team.

Eventually …

A manager does more than just overseeing a project. The job involves collaboration, people management, effective communication, and scheduling skills.

While confidence in self-remains to be another must-have skill, managers must know how to remain resourceful for the organization. It’s best to rely on modern tools like simple project management software and seek better functionality.

Note, there is no maximum number of skills a manager should restrict itself on gaining. But it sure helps to narrow it down to communication, task management, leadership and team management, risk management, and cost management.

Effective project management doesn’t translate into extreme supervision and control but to a proactive approach that helps the team contribute creatively.  

Considering how dynamic project management is, managers must continuously pursue acquiring new management skills. Besides, they also need to equip themselves with modern tools to digitize their project management procedure.

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David is a technical writer, his works are regularly published in various papers and top-notch portals. His rich experience in Project management domain helps him offer latest and fresh perspective on improved efficiency in work flows across organizations. His informative works on similar lines can be reached out on ProProfs Project.

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