19 Essential Project Management Skills To Master

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 June 2021

Project management skills are essential competencies required to complete a project from start to finish. Regardless of the industry you work in, these are highly sought after skills as it ensures completion of project on-budget and on-time. Mastering these skills directly affects you and your team's ability to finish projects. These skills ensure everyone in the team or department works together to improve the organisation's workflow and achieve a common goal. In this article, we explore what project management skills are and 19 project management skills every project manager must possess.

What are project management skills?

Project management skills are skills required to plan, manage, execute and finish projects. Both hard and soft skills are a part of the project management skills because they help delegate and prioritise tasks, manage resources, analyse problems, report progress and analyse project performance. Mastery of these skills ensures that project managers can complete a project on time without overshooting the budget.

Top 19 project management skills

Here are 19 project management skills every project manager must learn and master:

1. Communication

Being able to communicate ideas both verbally effectively and through writing is a skill that helps project managers excel at their work. They need these skills to communicate with clients and team members through multiple communication channels. Along with being an excellent public speaker during meetings and phone calls, a project manager must convey their ideas through reports, emails, presentation and other forms of written communication.

2. Leadership

The ability to lead, inspire and motivate a team is the most sought after project management skills. Leadership skills allow project managers to boost their team spirit, involve goal-setting, coordinate tasks and define a road map to complete the project successfully.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

3. Active listening skills

To ensure a proper understanding of the project's scope, plan and task, active listening skills are imperative. Employers prefer candidates who can avoid distraction, actively listen to the speaker, clarify their doubts, paraphrase and summarise what they listen to. This helps project managers understand the client's requirement.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Risk management

Risk management is a project management skill that helps a project manager take calculated risks for the organisation's benefit. Employers prefer candidates who can take intelligent risks by clarifying how their action will affect the team and project. This requires a level of confidence and the ability to comprehend the risk associated with a project.

5. Negotiation

The ability to negotiate terms with suppliers, vendors, clients and stakeholders is an essential project management skill that organisation's look for in a candidate. Knowing how to negotiate while providing solutions beneficial for all involved parties is a skill you develop through practice and experience. These skills allow you to influence team members and ensure everyone is working toward achieving a common organisational goal.

6. Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills is your ability to find solutions to issues that may affect the project deliverables. It involves gathering relevant information, identifying potential solutions, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each solution before choosing and implementing the best solution. It helps the project manager take a structured and solution-based approach to achieve positive outcomes to an obstacle.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

7. Time management

Most projects are time-sensitive and non-adherence to deadlines often results in overshooting of budget. To successfully manage a project, employers prefer candidates with excellent time management skills. Using this skill, you can manage your time, accomplish tasks in a time frame and ensure the project meets every deadline throughout the project life cycle. Time management is not only about managing your time. A successful project manager must schedule and manage other's time.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

8. Cost management

Cost management or control is one of the most critical responsibilities of a project manager. It involves creating viable budgets, reviewing budgets, managing expenses and negotiating the project's cost throughout the project life cycle. Employers look for candidates who have experience in allocating resources, identifying high-cost allocation areas, and proposing changes to ensure that the project stays on budget.

9. Organisation

Developing an organisational system, whether electronic or paper-based, to ensure the smooth running of the project is an essential project management skill. Employers want candidates with excellent organisational skills as sloppy and forgetful project managers are less likely to fulfil the project's requirement. Some organisational skills include prioritising, multitasking and documenting the project's timeline for future reference.

10. Prioritisation

The ability to prioritise workflows and tasks is critical for a successful project. During a project, certain tasks happen in a sequence, meaning that unless a colleague completes the first task, another colleague cannot start the next task. Certain tasks are concurrent and do not depend on the completion of other tasks. Project managers must be able to identify dependent and independent tasks and then prioritise them based on their impact on the project. Apart from prioritising task, project managers prioritise resource allocation based on the business requirement and time to completion.

11. Conflict management

Project managers deal with people of unique personality types and when working together, conflicts can happen. Managing conflicts with team members and clients are essential for working together and ensuring timely completion of projects. Project managers must diffuse tension and help parties reach a mutual consensus. Conflict management skills are essential for dealing with project discrepancies, addressing internal and external conflicts, maintaining a harmonious work environment and fixing issues that affect the workflow.

12. Motivation

To ensure team members stay interested in the project and perform to their best capabilities throughout the project life cycle, a project manager must possess excellent motivational skills. A project manager who continually motivates, successfully creates an environment where all team members achieve their project goals while being satisfied with their work. They use techniques such as team-building activities and reward system to encourage their team members to excel. Using their motivational skills, project managers create a fun, harmonious and collaborative work environment.

13. Adaptability

Adaptability is the willingness to learn and adapt to the changing surroundings continually. A project manager must always be ready to fill their knowledge gap, learn about new technologies in their field, and know about the upcoming project and industry trends. Adaptable project managers know when its appropriate to standardise a workflow and when to deviate from the current path. This helps in steering the team in the right direction.

14. Research skills

Research skills are skills that involve gathering relevant information related to a project, reviewing and analysing the information to reach a solution. Excellent research skills help in filling knowledge gaps that might delay the project or overshoot the budget. This skill helps project managers complete their work efficiently.

15. Project management frameworks and methodologies

To ensure the successful completion of a project, a project manager must be well-versed in different project management methodologies and framework. These include PMI methods, agile, waterfall framework and SCRUM.

16. Software proficiency

For increasing the team's productivity and streamlining workflows, proficiency in software and the latest tools is a must for project managers. Proficiency in software such as Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, helps create necessary project documentation. Knowledge of project management software helps manage the task, resources, deadlines, collaborate with teams and create a repository of essential documents.

17. Data analysis

Another crucial project management skill is data analysis. The project manager must have the skill set to analyse financial information like budget and expenses. Using the data analysis skills, managers can monitor the project's performance, ensure employees are on track, a project is deliverable within the time frame and budget. They should analyse data collected throughout the project's life cycle to understand the project's break-even and return on investment. They must be able to deal with large numbers and analyse the data to provide meaningful insights.

18. Policy knowledge

To ensure timely completion of projects, knowledge of the organisation's policies and best practices is necessary. Knowledge of policies, procedures and principles guides a project from the initial stage to the final stage. It ensures that project managers work and acts based on the guidelines accepted by the organisation. Any deviation from the policy affects the organisation's image and its ability to reach its long-term goals. Therefore, project managers must have an excellent grasp of all policies and procedures.

19. Quality management

Another project management skill to learn and master is quality management. It is the ability to manage and oversee project activities required for delivering the final product as per the quality standards indicated by the client. Project managers must ensure that all products maintain a desirable level of excellence and quality. With quality management skills, a project manager can meet and exceed customer's expectation. It helps in creating efficient and high-quality business processes.

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