Project management isn’t an easy job. In fact, it’s many jobs that involve multiple project roles throughout the initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing of a project.
Project managers are responsible for planning projects, assembling a project team, and then managing project tasks, time and costs. To do so, the best project managers use robust project management tools to keep all aspects of their projects organized.
Still, even with robust project management software, that’s a lot to ask of any individual, but project managers have a variety of project management skills to get the job done. But before we continue, what are project management skills?
What Are Project Management Skills?
As stated above, project managers need to plan and control many areas of a project. To do so they need a set of project management skills which consists of personality traits, soft skills and technical or hard skills.
- Hard Skills: Hard skills, also known as technical skills are those project management skills that can be learned through education or training.
- Soft Skills: Soft skills are all those which are not learned through formal education or training. Some of these are part of someone’s personality, or are developed through the years.
- Personality traits: These are not skills, but personality traits that are beneficial for the project manager role.
Below we’ve collected the top 20 personality traits, soft and hard skills every project manager should have. There are certainly more than 20, but if you have these, you have the foundation on which to build a successful career in project management.
These project management skills can be useful for several purposes. You can include them in your project manager resume and cover letter, and you can use them to prepare for your project manager interview. Or, you could simply study them to learn about technical skills to improve as a leader and project manager.
Project Management Hard Skills
In project management, hard skills are the most important because they are the project management techniques that allow project managers to do their job. They are also known as the technical skills or project management know-how that is needed to plan, schedule and manage projects.
1. Knowledge of Project Management Methodologies
A project manager needs to know about the different project management methodologies that exist. That doesn’t mean that you need to be an expert in all of them, as they usually are industry-specific and require certification. Here are some of the most common project management methodologies.
If you want to learn more about these and other approaches, check out our project management methodologies blog.
Pro Tip: As a project manager, you should be familiar with the project management knowledge areas and project management process groups defined by the project management institute (PMI).
2. Proficient with Project Management Software
Having a working knowledge of project management software is a must-have technical skill for project managers in today’s world. There are many project management software alternatives available in the market, so you’ll need to determine which project management tools and features are best for you and your team’s workflow.
3. Team Management
Project management is about teamwork. Project managers must have people skills to keep their teams working productively. That means understanding conflict management to keep everyone working together and morale high. It’s always helpful to start projects with team-building activities to help create relationships that will stick through the thick and thin of a project.
4. Time Management
Time is one of the triple constraints and one of the most important technical skills. Not having time management skills can lead to delays and worse. Project management is about meeting deadlines and getting your deliverables out on time. Project managers have to be experts in managing their time, their team’s time and the overall time of the project.
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5. Project Planning
Project planning is a must-have project management skill because a project plan is the foundation of the project management cycle. It includes the project schedule, resources and costs. Traditional project management is all about planning ahead. Therefore, the planning stage of any project lays the foundation for everything that follows, including the success or failure of the project.
6. Project Scheduling
The project scheduling process is a vital part when writing your project plan. A project schedule organizes tasks, teams and time to complete a project. When people think about a project management skill, they’re probably thinking about project scheduling, deadlines and deliverables. But project scheduling is more than that, as it also involves resource management and risk management.
There are many tools that can help with this process, chief among them an online Gantt chart, which provides a visual of the schedule with tasks, durations of those tasks, dependencies, and milestones.
Not all Gantt chart software is as robust as ProjectManager. Our tool will do all the above, but unlike competitors, we can automatically calculate the critical path and then you can set a baseline. Now you’re ready to monitor planned versus actual effort and catch discrepancies with your schedule and budget. Don’t you want a Gantt chart that can do more? Get started for free today.
7. Project Budgeting
The project budget is the fuel that drives the project. Project management is all concept and no action without a project budget. But having a project budget is one one side of the project budgeting coin. There’s also budget management, which means tracking costs throughout the life cycle of the project and making sure your actual costs don’t exceed your planned budget.
8. Risk Management
Planning a project, big or small, is inherent with risk. Before executing the project, you have to create a risk management plan to identify, assess, and control risk. The more you can manage risk, the more likely your project is going to succeed.
9. Cost Management
Projects cost money. Creating a budget is part of the planning stage of project management. Once you have a project budget you have to use budget management to make sure that you control your costs through the execution stage.
10. Task Management
Tasks are little jobs that make up the execution phase of project management. They need to be created, organized, assigned to team members and tracked to make sure they meet the project constraints. This is done with task management. Project management software helps you manage tasks and fosters collaboration among your project team.
ProjectManager supersizes the limited features of most to-do software tools and gives you more task management tools. You can use Gantt charts, kanban boards, task lists and project calendars to manage your projects.
Project Management Soft Skills
Soft skills are not taught anywhere and are developed naturally by individuals. However, some of these can actually be improved through practice.
1. Leadership Skills
Some say that leadership is a personality trait or soft skill that can’t be taught. While some project managers have better people skills than others, we think everyone has the potential to learn how to apply proven leadership skills and techniques.
As a project manager you’re responsible not only for project success, but you also need to be a leader that applies leadership skills to guide and motivate team members to achieve their goals.
2. Communication Skills
Communication skills really go hand-in-glove with leadership. You can’t be an effective project manager if you’re not able to articulate what it is you need your project team to do. But you’re not only going to be communicating with your team, you’ll need to have a clear communication plan for your customers, stakeholders and contractors.
3. Negotiation Skills
Being good at negotiation is one of many communication skills, but it deserves its own space here. In project management, negotiation is an important skill for conflict resolution and stakeholder management. For example, you’ll likely get demands from stakeholders that can impact the project scope. You’ll have to give them pushback, but diplomatically, so all project stakeholders feel they’re getting what they want.
4. Organization Skills
The term organization skills refer to the ability that an individual has to manage time and tasks in an efficient manner. So as the name implies, organization skills allow someone to work in an organized and efficient manner.
5. Interpersonal Skills
Teams are made of people and people have personalities. There are many different types of team members and they all have to get along. Having interpersonal skills brings the best out of your project team and helps with conflict resolution.
6. Problem-Solving Skills
Projects are problems. Having the skills to solve those problems means that your project is more likely to deliver success. Think of problems as puzzles that you can have to figure out. There are many problem-solving tools out there to help you along the way.
Personality Traits of a Project Manager
As noted above, these are not exactly skills but personality traits that are beneficial for project managers and their teams.
Change is a constant in project management. Being flexible is what keeps a project viable. If you’re not willing to adapt then the project will suffer. Of course, you have to have the wisdom to know when adaptability serves the project and when you have to bite the bullet and push through.
2. Critical Thinking
Too many people understand the basics of project management but can’t think outside the box. Critical thinking is all about not accepting everything you hear but taking the time to understand the issue and do the research that leads to an informed decision. A critical thinker is more likely to clear the hurdles that every project has to go through.
3. A Sense of Humor
Having a sense of humor is an essential project management skill, even if it is a soft skill in project management. Humor relieves stress for you and your team, and only when tensions are lifted can smarter actions and ideas show themselves. Project team-building activities are a great example of how humor can be used by project managers.
Nothing is solved by rushing through a project or getting frustrated when things don’t go well. Projects need to be thoroughly planned in order to run smoothly. That doesn’t mean there won’t be issues. They’re always issues. Whether it’s a change request or stakeholders having unrealistic expectations, if you don’t have patience everything will be exponentially worse.
ProjectManager Puts Project Management Skills to Use
Now that you know what skills you need to be a successful project manager, it’s time to equip yourself with the right project management tools. ProjectManager has a suite of powerful tools that can improve the workflow of any project manager. In addition to offering the aforementioned award-winning Gantt charts and dashboards, we also offer powerful reporting features to track your project’s progress.
You can have all the soft and technical skills in the world, but without project management software you’ll still be working at a disadvantage. Luckily, there are tools that enhance your skill set and make you even more efficient and productive. ProjectManager has features to help schedule, manage tasks and budget your project, as well as being online so it’s great for team collaboration. You’ll have to bring the sense of humor, but we’ve got the rest. Try it for yourself by taking this free 30-day trial.