Essential Skills Of Project Managers In 2015

Essential Skills Of Project Managers In 2015
With changes in the economic, business and regulatory landscape, organizations need capable and qualified project managers now more than ever to take charge of projects and deliver successful outcomes. According to PwC's 2012 report titled Insights and Trends: Current Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management Practices which surveyed more than 1,500 respondents across 38 countries, 87% of participants who reported successful project budget management within their organization also said that their project managers possessed the relevant and required experience in managing projects along similar lines in their careers. Around 97% of respondents stated that project management is critical to business performance and the success of the organization; 94% agreed that project management facilitates business growth.

This clearly demonstrates that the project manager plays a key role in meeting important performance indicators in a project. However, the project manager’s role is ever evolving and only candidates with up-to-date skills will be in demand across industries. According to PMI’s talent report, approximately 9 million new project management roles are predicted to be required by 2020 in India. However, only candidates with the right combination of knowledge and experience will be able to make the most of lucrative project management opportunities in the job market.

In this article, we list down hard skills that will be required in 2015 and soft skills that are always in demand across industries, and can help professionals boost their career prospects.

Hard Skills
  1. Knowledge of latest technologies: ‘Cloud’, ‘big data’, ‘analytics’, ‘mobile’, ‘social’, ‘business intelligence’ – no longer just buzzwords, these technology paradigms, platforms and trends are transforming the way organisations function all around the world. Developing or implementing them is coming into the project purview. For IT project managers, building knowledge about these technology applications will be paramount for successful delivery of the application or service for customers. For project managers in other industries, having knowledge about how to incorporate these new technologies in the project to attain cost and operating efficiencies will be critical.
  2. Knowledge of agile methodology: Agile project management brings aspects like continuous improvement, team contribution, scope flexibility, delivery of quality products and maximization of customer value into focus. Agile methodologies typically include Scrum and Lean. According to the PwC survey mentioned above, 59% of most organizations which employed an agile project management methodology credited it for project success. As more and more IT service providers adopt agile for project management, and in fact some companies scale up to more mature agile practices, project managers will have to hone their skills in this methodology to meet expectations.
  3. Knowledge of program and portfolio management: As projects widen in scope and become more complex, program and portfolio management are gaining in importance. Both these practice areas facilitate selection of projects that are aligned with strategy, deliver optimal return on investment and enable organizational growth. According to Gartner, by the end of 2016, 50% of digital transformation initiatives will be unmanageable because of lack of portfolio management skills, and this will lead to a loss in market share. Hence, project managers with the relevant knowledge and experience in program and portfolio management will be in demand.
  4. Knowledge of new PPM tools: Project Portfolio Management (PPM) tools facilitate financial and operational overseeing of projects, standardization, measurement, governance and process automation. Some standard Project Portfolio Management (PPM) tools that are based on the Waterfall method have been found to not be in sync with Agile methodology. Hence, project managers should be updated on the latest PPM tools that are delivering the best results for the project management methodology in place in their organizations.

Soft Skills

  1. Leadership skills: According to Project Management Institute’s (PMI) 2013 ‘Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: Navigating Complexity’, 81% of respondents said that leadership skills are the most important skill to successfully manage highly complex projects. Good project managers are typically result-oriented, able to motivate project team members, assign both responsibility and accountability, and resolve conflicts. They are also collaborative in their approach and set an example by being proactive.
  2. Solution-seeker: If the project runs into any roadblock, the project manager should have the skill to find a workaround or solution. The ability to think calmly in a stressful situation and find a way out, is one that employers look for in a competent project manager.
  3. Astute decision-making: A project manager should have the ability to assimilate all the information that comes in from various sources and take an informed business decision. This should be aligned with the project’s objectives or business case.
  4. Communication skills: A project manager needs to be a good communicator with team members, stakeholders and external parties to ensure a smooth workflow for the project. He or she should also be able to discern the relevant information to be communicated to an individual to enable the project to move ahead to a successful outcome.
  5. Good learner: A project manager needs to have in-depth knowledge of his or her domain or industry. He or she should also be able to pick up information on the other aspects of the project that influence its outcome, such as information technology, resource management, finance and budgeting, quality management and so on.

About the author: The article is written by Vara Prasad Rongala, the Founder and Managing Director of Invensis Technologies