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Must Have Skills For Project Managers

“Hey, Jerry,” I said as I saw him leaving a meeting. “What’s the status on our vendor’s first delivery for next Tuesday?”

“Oh, it will be fine.” he said. “They always deliver.”

“Have you reviewed the updated functional specs with them?”

“I haven’t had time to finish the document, but I talked about it with them over the phone. I’m sure if there were any issues they would have told me. I trust those guys.”

“Jerry, this is the first delivery for a year long project. If it isn’t up to par, you’ll spend the rest of the year scrambling to make it up. You’ll also spend that time trying to earn back our customer’s trust….. and mine.”

“ Don’t worry.” He replied. “If there was a problem I could smell it a mile away.”

The days of managing “from the gut” are gone. If the economy has taught project managers anything it’s that they need to be well skilled in processes, tools and business intelligence that aid insightful decisions and support better decision making. Jerry risked too much by not following our PMO’s procedure and it was about to get him in trouble.

The role of a project manager supports the activities of dozens of other people. He or she is on the front lines actively driving the company’s goals. And, as such, he’d better have an established set of tools that he follows to assure success:

  • Project Managers must understand the accepted PM methodologies that are the basic tenants of the PMP certification: Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Risk and Communication are chief among these as well as the processes contained in each project- Initiating, Planning, Executing and Closing. These processes, and the tools they contain exist to help think through tough issues and make the right decisions. They shed light on aspects of a project that aren’t immediately clear and they provide solid metrics for a course of direction.
  • He or she needs to have well honed leadership skills, being able to build and motivate diverse groups towards a common goal
  • A good project manager needs some exposure to every aspect of management. Organizational, planning, and prioritization skills are all required. Budgeting, Negotiations, conflict resolution, problem solving and writing all are important as well
  • They must be able to plan, organize and manage resources. This involves identifying all aspects of the work required by a articular project and breaking it down to consumable parts
  • Most importantly, they must be able to foster a culture of open communication and mutual respect. Team members must feel that they can communicate openly and freely so that the exchange of information flows freely. This benefits the PM, the company AND the project.
  • A project manager must be part coach, mentor, babysitter, and advocate while keeping the business objectives in mind
  • Perhaps the biggest objective these days is profit-centered project management. Understanding the ROI of your project, how it fits with your organizations bigger picture, and how to keep it on or under budget.

What Jerry didn’t know was that the vendor had added several more people to their team to meet the updated project requirements. And that, because they’d never received a formal document, they’d misunderstood what he’d asked for. Now his budget was blown and his project was off track. We had to pull team members from other projects to rescue his and it affected the entire organization.

In the end, Project Management is all about balance. Balancing customer expectations, balancing teams, balancing resources are all essential parts. All of the goals in management have one characteristic in common which is to work with people and manage their expectations, abilities, and direction. Jerry did spend the rest of that year scrambling to make amends. He’d let a busy schedule and his own complacency run him into the ditch. The ego bruising was obvious.

Posted on by Crowe Mead in Management

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