Mostly projects are complex & multi-faceted and therefore certain project management skills are required for effective management of these projects. A challenge is faced for managing these complicated projects which require skills in leadership, team building, technical expertise, conflict resolution, planning, organization, administration, management support, entrepreneurship and allocation of resources.
All these project management skills are necessary for the effective leadership. The most important key skill for making project effective is the team building skill which enables a project manager to integrate the personal from various fields into an effective work team. The project manager must relate to the following elements to get better results.
- The people that should be managed
- The task that should be performed
- The organizational structure
- The tools available
- The environment of organization along with customer community
All elements are related to one another and function under the confined control of the project manager. The manager can develop an environment that will be contributive to the requirements of working team through comprehension of the interaction of corporate organization and behavior elements.
The internal & external forces should be reconciled to mutual objectives that impinge on the organization of the project. So the functions of the organization should be understood by project manager in both social and technical perspectives which can influence the particular activities of the project of the organization. The culture and value system of the concerned organization should also be comprehended by the project manager. It is proved through research & experience that the level of proficiency of project management skills is directly related to the effective performance in project management.
Must Have Project Management Skills
There are ten particular project management skills that as follow
- Team Building
- Conflict Resolution
- Technical Expertise
- Management Support
- Resource Allocation
It is important that homogenous management style should be formed from the functioning of the personal management traits underlying these skills. The tasks of project, techniques used, the assigned people and the organizational structure provide the basis for the right mixture of the skill levels. All aspects of getting the job done should be considered by the project manager for effective management of projects.
- Team Building Skills
One of the prime responsibilities of the project manager and from the utmost important project manager skills is to build the team of the project. A complete spectrum of project management skills are involved in team building process which identify, commit and integrate the different task groups from the traditional functional organization into a single project management system.
An environment conducive to teamwork should be provided by the project manager for effective team building. Following characteristics should be nurture by him in this regard.
- Commitment of the team members for the project
- Team spirit and good interpersonal relations
- The essential resources and expertise
- Properly specified goals and project objectives
- Supportive involvement of the top management
- Effective project leadership
- Open communication among the members of the team and support companies
- Minimum harmful level of interpersonal and inter-group conflict
In all of the above factors, following three important considerations are involved which aimed towards integration of people from various disciplines in to an effective team.
- Effective communication
- Commitment to the project
- Earnest interest in the professional growth of team members
- Leadership Skills
The ability of a project manager to lead the team within relatively unstructured environment is absolutely necessary prerequisite for the success of the project and considered as from one of the most important project management skills. It includes effective dealing with managers and supporting staff of the functional lines with less or no formal authority. Certain other skills are also included in this category like information processing skills, the ability of obtain & filter relevant data solid for making decision in the dynamic environment. It further includes the ability to integrate the individual requirements, demands and limitations into decisions that benefit the entire performance of the project. Moreover the ability of the project manager to settle the inter-group conflicts is also included in this category which is a significant factor in entire performance of the project.
The personal experience and credibility of the project manager within the organization provide the basis for quality of the leadership. A potential management style may include the following features
- Assistance in problem solving
- Obvious project leadership and direction
- Facilitating & integrating new members in the team
- Ability to resolve interpersonal conflicts
- Ability to clearly communicate
- Supporting the group decisions
- Team presentation to the upper management
- Ability to plan and fulfill commitments
- Ability to maintain equilibrium of technical solutions against human & economic factors
The above skills desire certain supportive personal traits which are as follow
- Flexibility & change orientation
- Initiative and enthusiasm
- Project management experience
- Innovative thinking
- Organization & discipline
- Charisma & persuasiveness
- Conflict Resolution Skills
The third, in list of must have project management skills is, the resolution of conflicts among various employees. For complex task management, conflict is basic factor. The interplay of the project organization and the larger host organization & its multifunctional elements mostly determine the conflict. In order to deal effectively with the conflicts, the comprehension of the determinants of conflict is essential for the project manager. The dysfunctional conflict mostly consequence in poor decision making in project, longer delays over issues and a disruption of the efforts of the team. All of these ultimately negatively affect the performance of the project. It is also fact that conflict becomes beneficial in some cases where it generates involvement & new information and increases the competitive spirit.
From many research studies, a number of suggestions have been derived which aimed at enhancing the ability of the project manager to handle conflicts which will ultimately make entire performance of the project better.
Project manager should
- Comprehend the interaction of behavioral & organizational elements an environment will develop that will conducive to the motivational needs of the team. This will minimize the unproductive conflict and increase active participation.
- Effectively communicate with all levels of the organization concerning both goals & decisions of the project. For this purpose a significant communication vehicle is the regularly scheduled status review meetings.
- Identify the conflict determinants along with their timing in the project life cycle.
In order to avoid or minimize most of conflicts before their impediment in the performance of the project, certain activities can be beneficial like effective project planning, securing of commitments, contingency planning and top management involvement.
The ability of the project manager to promote beneficial conflict while reducing its serious hazardous effects serves as basis for the value of the conflict generated. Sixth sense is required by the project manager for identifying that when conflict will be useful, what type of conflict will be beneficial and how much conflict will be useful for particular situation. The project manager has the exclusive responsibility for the project regarding the influence of the conflict to the success or failure of the project in the final analysis.
- Technical Skills
Occasionally all the technical, marketing & administrative skills are possessed by the project manager for directing the project single-handedly. All these skills are not fully required by the project manager. But it is important for the project manager to comprehend the markets, technology and the environment of the organization to potentially participate in the search of technological innovations and integrated solutions. Without such comprehension the project manager cannot foresee the potential growth ramifications, the integrated results of local decisions on entire project and relationship to other business opportunities. Technical expertise is essential to access technical concepts and solutions, to evaluate risks and make tradeoffs between costs, schedule & technical issues and to communicate effectively in technical terms with the project team. So, engineering background is sometimes required in complex problem-solving situations and considered as from one of the most important project management skills.
In short for successful management of engineering projects, technical expertise is important. Following elements should be comprehended by the project manager for making technical skills effective.
- Engineering tools and techniques used
- Technology involved
- Product applications
- Particular markets, their customers and needs
- Relationship among assisting technologies
- Technological evolution & trends
- Professionals of the technical community
For future project manager, this is generally an excellent testing ground. The ability of the new candidate for managing the technological innovations and integration of solutions required for success is also analyzed by the top management through the above mentioned elements.
- Planning Skills
If you do not have planning skills, you can never be a good manager. So planning is also from one of the utmost important skills of project management. For any undertaking, planning skills are helpful; for successful management of large projects, they are absolutely essential. The project plan is served as road map that specifies that how to get from the beginning to end results.
At all organizational levels, project planning is a continuous activity. However it is the responsibility of the project manager to prepare project summary plan before starting the project. Certain skills far beyond writing a document with schedules and budgets are required for effective project planning. Effective project planning further needs communication & information processing skills for specification of the necessary administrative support and actual resource requirement. Moreover it also demands the capacity to negotiate essential resources and commitments from relevant personal in different support organizations with minimum or no formal authority, containing the specification of the measurable milestones. Project management Skills in the following areas are required for effective planning
- Information Processing
- Resource Negotiation
- Confirming measurable milestones
- Securing commitments
- Supporting top management involvement
- Incremental & modular planning
It is additionally guaranteed by the project manager that the plan remains a viable document. Alteration in the project scope and depth is compulsory. The plan must show the essential changes through formal revisions. Throughout the life cycle of the project, this plan should remain guiding document. Irrelevant and obsolete plan is useless for the project.
At last project manager should have understanding that planning can be exaggerated. Planning can become an end in itself and a bad substitute for innovative effort, if it is not controlled. The innovative actions should not be tried by the individuals because the guiding plan does not have such specifications. So the project manager is responsible for developing flexibility into the plan and regulating it against such misuse.
- Organizational Skills
Effective project management skills also demand the project manager to know how the organization should operate and how to work with the organization. This function makes him social architect. During project formation and startup, organizational skills are quite significant when the project manager develops the project organization by integrating people from various fields into an effective work team. It is much more than simply preparing a project organization chart. The specification of reporting relationships, responsibilities, information requirements and lines of control are required at least. Supporting skills in the field of communication, planning and conflict resolution are significantly supportive. The useful organization tools include a good project plan and a task matrix. Clearly specified project objectives, good project leadership, open communication channels and senior management support facilitate the organizational effort.
- Entrepreneurial Skills
A general management perspective is also required by the project manager as project management skills. For example, the financial performance of the organization is significantly affected by the area of economic considerations. However, mostly objectives are wider than profits. Future growth, customer satisfaction, cultivation of relevant market activities and minimum organizational interruptions of other projects can be equally significant objectives. All these issues should be dealt by the effective project manager. Actual experience develops entrepreneurial skills. However, special seminars, formal training (MBA type) and cross functional training projects can assist to build the entrepreneurial skills required by project managers.
- Administrative Skills
Administrative skills are necessary for effective project management. The effective project management skills demand to have expertise in planning, budgeting, scheduling, staffing and other control techniques. It is rarely the problem to make people comprehend administrative techniques like budgeting and scheduling in dealing with technical personnel. But to impress on them that schedules and costs are only as significant as effective technical solutions.
Managers seldom have all the required administrative skills in larger projects. It is significant for the project manager to comprehend the operating procedures and available tools of the company. It is mostly essential for the program manger to free him from administrative details in spite of his capacity to solve them. He should assign sufficient administrative jobs to support groups or engage a project administrator. Following are certain supportive tools which are helpful in administration of the project by the manager
- The report
- The meeting
- The review
- The schedule and budget controls
Project manager must be fully aware of these provided tools and understand their effective use.
- Management Support Building Skills
There are many organizations that surround the project manager by either supporting him or controlling his activities. The effective project management skills also that demand that project manager should understand these interfaces because through this comprehension, he can better develop favorable relationships with senior management. For dealing effectively with the interface groups, management support is mostly an absolute requirement. Personnel having diverse interests and methods of performing tasks are included in the project organizations which serve as shared power systems. These power systems tend to lose their normal balance. The development of the unfavorable biases can prevent by only a strong leader secured by senior management.
The ability of the project managers to develop favorable relationships with the senior management is influenced by four key variables which are as follow
- Their continuous credibility
- Their own accessibility
- The clarity of their project
- The preference of the project relative to the other undertakings of the organization
The individual manager can develop all these interrelated factors. Moreover such development can be significantly supported by the senior management.
- Resource Allocation Skills
Another utmost project management skills that project manager should own is the resource allocation skills while managing project. There are many bosses in a project management. Mostly support organizations are protected through the functional lines from direct financial control by the project office. It is mostly impossible to control personnel assignments, indirect manpower costs and priorities when a task has been authorized. Also profit accountability is not easy owing to the interdependencies of different support departments and the mostly altering work contents and scope.
Commitment is facilitated and control is reinforced through the effective and detailed project planning. Statement of Work is the part of plan which develops a basis for resource allocation. The particular agreements should be worked out with all important contributors and their superiors on the jobs to be done and the connected budget & schedules. Measurable milestones are significant for both hardware components and for invisible project components like software and system tasks. Key personal should be involved in the early phases of project formation, like proposal phase, for the establishment of these commitments on specifications, budgets and schedules ideally. At that ideal time there is still flexibility in the requirements and there is possibility of tradeoffs among schedules, budget and performance parameters.