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What are the top 5 skills that you want to see in a Project Manager?

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Published:
July 15, 2021
Reading Time:
9 minutes
Lynn Hunt
Lynn's diverse perspectives on business stem from her extensive experience as a management consultant - her role as a beloved wife, mother and grandmother adds further depth to her insights.

No matter what business you are in, you will be involved in projects from time to time. You may have internal staff who have the skills of project managers, project manager tools, and the ability to take on project manager roles. But often, you will be looking for outside resources.

This article aims to help you identify when you should bring in an expert, what skills and competencies you should be looking for, and where to find the best person for your job.

When Should You Hire A Project Management Consultant?

The Wikipedia definition of a project is “… any undertaking, … possibly involving research or design, that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.”

Some of the key descriptors are the possibility for research and design, plus the need for careful planning and the presence of a specific goal. Other essential aspects of any project include time, budget, and quality. Very often, a company has a clear goal or aim but needs help with the other elements.

This is when bringing in an outside expert would make sense:

  • The company has already tried to achieve the goal but has got stuck
  • The internal team doesn’t have the necessary expertise or experience
  • The internal team doesn’t have the time to dedicate to the project
  • New perspectives and solutions are needed
  • There is little wriggle room in terms of cost and time

Business leaders should be clear about what they want from an outside expert. The term project management consultant is often used fairly loosely to include the role of project management contractor or project manager. Consultants offer advice or support. They may review and make recommendations about your current project management capabilities, processes, and controls. They may also check or support new tools, techniques, and procedures that you are implementing. Importantly, they will provide support for transformation and change management.

Project managers or contractors are hands-on in projects. They will be involved in the execution of your project and will be responsible for its success.

Whether you need advice or hands-on execution, it’s also essential to ensure that the professional you bring has the correct range of project management skills and tools for your project.

“A project is any undertaking, … possibly involving research or design, that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.”

Project Manager Roles

Typically, we identify five phases of a project: initiation, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing. At each stage, skills or knowledge must be applied.

The following table uses the phases and skills as a framework to summarize some of the project manager roles and the activities you might anticipate from a project manager:

InitiationPlanningExecutingMonitoring and controllingClosing
Integration managementDevelop a position charterDevelop a project management planDirect and manage the work of the projectCollect and analyze project information to determine where the project stands and predict future status and progressClose all phases of the project
Scope management Define and manage scope; create a work breakdown structure (WBS); gather requirements Validate and control the scope of the project
Time management Plan and define schedules, activities, and resources Control scope
Costs management Estimate costs and set budgets Control costs
Quality management Identify quality requirementsManage qualityControl quality of deliverables
Human Resources management Identify HR requirementsSelect, develop, and manage the project team
Communication management Manage all aspects of communication. Make sure information is clear, unambiguous, and adequately understood.Control team and stakeholder communications
Risk management Identify potential risks and risk mitigation strategies
Procurement management Identify and plan for required procurementsEffect necessary procurementControl procurement
Stakeholder managementIdentify stakeholdersIdentify stakeholder expectationsManage stakeholder expectationsControl stakeholder engagements

Top Five Skills For Project Managers

Skills for project managers go beyond the technical know-how outlined in the table above. Here are five of the other capabilities that, in my view, set excellent managers apart from good ones.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is a combination of problem identification (what is the problem), solution assessment (what can be done), and problem response (implementing a solution). Project problems may be technical, managerial, or interpersonal. Problem-solving may lead to decision-making when a problem has many possible solutions.

Skills for project manager, What are the top 5 skills that you want to see in a Project Manager?

Decision-making

Decision-making means making the best choice from among many alternatives. Decisions can be made by the project manager or obtained from the customer, the team, and other managers. Decision-making has a time element to it - the best alternative may not be the right decision if it is made too early or too late.

Perspective

Having perspective is the ability to take a broader organizational view rather than a narrower project or personal view. It is to discern how the project relates to a hierarchy of larger undertakings and how it interacts with external conditions and events, some of them seemingly unrelated to the project.

Negotiating

Negotiating means working with others to reach an agreement. A successful negotiation is one where all parties are satisfied with the deal.

Organizational effectiveness

Organizational effectiveness is the ability to get things done. It requires an understanding of the formal and informal structures of the organizations involved and an ability to be a strategic business partner invested in the success of the project.

Finding The Right Project Manager For Your Needs

The skills for project managers have been listed. However, they also need appropriate tools and experience. Traditional project management tools are Gantt and PERT Charts, Logic Networks, Work Breakdown Structures (WBS), SWOT analyses, risk maps, and decision trees.

They might still be relevant, but in the digital age, project managers are more likely to be introducing software tools such as those provided by Monday, Jira, Asana, Wrike, or Trello. They will also be offering approaches like Agile, Kanban, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), or PMO (Project Management Office).

The good news for companies is that many excellent project managers and consultants with the right mix of skills, tools, and experience can be hired via online consulting platforms. In fact, theseconsulting platforms can almost be regarded as project management tools for business!

Consultport is a good example. It offers freelancers with project consulting and project execution skills across various approaches, including PMO, Agile, IT, Scrum, ERP, Post-Merger-Integration (PMI), and Virtual. However, Consultport goes beyond simply making freelancers available for companies. Each consultant has been screened based on experience, personal interviews, and references from previous projects. You have a guarantee that they have the skills and background that you need. Consultport will provide a shortlist of hand-picked consultants for you to choose from. There is no cost to you for all the initial stages of request, search, and proposal. You will start to pay only when service has been delivered – and Consultport will monitor delivery and complete all administrative tasks associated with projects.

This means that even if you are unsure precisely what project management skills or tools you need, Consultport will help match your needs to the most appropriate resources.

Project Management In The Digital Age

Skills for project managers are not just technical. Critical competencies include problem-solving, decision-making, perspective, negotiating, and organizational effectiveness. Experience and appropriate project manager tools are also required.

In some cases, your company may have the necessary internal resources, but there are times when it’s best to bring in an outside expert. If you take this route, you must know what skills you are looking for and where to find the best person for the task. This is not as easy as it sounds.

Online consulting platforms provide a solution, especially when they can provide assurances of the competency of their consultants and themselves monitor the progress and quality of your project.

This means that you can direct your attention where it’s needed – to the work of your business.