A project manager leads a project by scheduling activities, monitoring the timeline and constraints, and motivating everyone involved. This article takes a closer look at more specific skills that make a good project manager.
1. Computer skills
A project manager does not have to be an IT specialist. However, today’s project manager needs to be able to use basic office software, such as word processors, spread sheet tools and office email systems, irrespective of whether it is from Microsoft or IBM.
A project manager should also be able to create and manage project schedules in a tool of choice, for example, MS Project or Primavera. In a project/programme office environment, it is essential that a project manager are comfortable with organisational tools, such as EPM or SharePoint.
2. Ability to apply basic and logical thinking
Working with creative, problem-solving teams can sometimes lead the team to lose sight of the basic outputs that need to be achieved. A project manager may often need to apply basic, logical thinking about what is needed for the specific project and what can be achieved – just to bring expectations back to reality.
3. Competent at maths
This component has two elements to it:
A project manager will always be responsible for the project budget and therefore needs to be comfortable with any calculations in this regard. Although a project manager does not have to be an accountant, he/she must be able to interrogate project financial numbers and notice when the numbers do not add up as expected.
In some organisations and environments, a project manager may be required to conduct Earned Value (EV) calculations, such as SPI and CPI. It is then essential for the project manager to be able to do calculations at this level.
4. Managing the level of detail
A very tricky challenge for a project manager is to balance the project team’s focus on the level of detail. Sometimes a project manager has to worry about the leaves, and sometimes a project manager needs to see the forest. Successful project delivery is tied to understanding the level of detail involved and needed at the right time.
5. Good communications
A project manager needs to be able to express and share the needs and successes of a project with the relevant stakeholders and participants, which should be done through timely and well-packaged messages.
6. Conduct public speaking
A project manager will represent and defend projects in various forums, some of which may be alien, politically against or hostile towards the project. Understanding the audience and being able to focus the message at the appropriate level is critical in such scenarios.
7. Managing people
Project delivery requires people to succeed. A project manager will only be as successful as the people he/she surrounds himself with. Quite often though, a project manager may not have a choice in who is assigned to the project team. In such instances, it is up to the project manager to understand each individual, what motivates them, and how to get the best from them on the project. The core principle that people are humans will often come into direct conflict with project delivery and timelines.
8. Technical expertise
Does the project manager have to be a subject matter expert?
Yes, and no. In some cases the answer is a definitive yes, for example, if the client is building a bridge, the project manager is required to be registered with the Engineering Council. In many cases, however, it is advantageous to have a expert project delivery track record rather than just being a technical expert. A talented project manager knows when to bring in the right expertise, as and when required.
A project manager’s role varies considerably according to the project, but a strong set of the above skills will support a project manager in the role of leading a project effectively.
Download the article . . . . Which 8 skills form the basis for a good project manager
For any further information, please contact Adie Gerber on email at email@example.com or LinkedIn at http://za.linkedin.com/pub/adie-gerber/12/703/996 or Twitter at @AdieGerber