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The 10 Most Important Project Management Skills

It would be difficult to name a profession that requires a larger or more varied skillset than project management. Today’s project managers are expected to have specific industry knowledge, strong communication skills, and top-notch quantitative abilities, just to name a few. With such an expansive list of necessary skills, it’s no wonder that qualified project managers are in such high demand around the globe.

Though the list of useful project management skills is nearly endless, certain skills are generally considered to be more important than others. If you’re an experienced PMP, these are the skills you use every day to keep your projects on time and on budget. If you’re an aspiring project manager or are simply looking for new ways to contribute to the projects you work on, developing these skills will put you on the path to success.

  • Budget management: In order to keep a project on track, a project manager must have a solid grasp of basic accounting principles and must maintain a constant awareness of the project’s budgetary performance. Identifying variances or discrepancies as soon as they arise will help you avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.
  • Scope management: Project managers must have a thorough understanding of what is and is not in scope at the beginning of every project. When a project’s scope needs to change, be sure to document the change appropriately, create a clear audit trail and communicate the impact on budgets and timelines to all stakeholders.
  • Conflict resolution: The bigger the project and the higher the stakes, the more likely it is that conflicts will arise. Whether the disagreement is between members of the same team, between a vendor and a customer, or between any other groups of stakeholders, a good project manager knows how to defuse tension and find a path forward. Setting expectations and providing transparency throughout the project lifecycle can go far in minimizing conflicts and keeping everything on track.
  • Creating and delivering presentations: Even if you’re a gifted writer and an engaging speaker, delivering an effective presentation is a distinct skill, one that requires practice. Project managers should understand how to use presentation software and A/V equipment to get important messages across.
  • Time management: Much of a project manager’s job involves determining and communicating how other people will spend their time, but it’s equally important to be aware of how you’re managing your own time. Look for opportunities you might have to become more efficient by delegating responsibilities, multi-tasking, or rearranging your schedule.
  • Negotiation: Discussions about budgets, resource allocation, and timelines can become adversarial and counterproductive if not handled tactfully. Successful project managers know how to find compromises where possible and how to hold a firm line without damaging their workplace relationships.
  • Relationship management: Good project managers make a conscious effort to build trust with customers, vendors, and internal team members. Positive working relationships make it easier to navigate through disputes and other difficult situations.
  • Risk management: When something goes wrong on a project, all eyes turn to the project manager. Regardless of the circumstances, everyone wonders whether the manager could have foreseen and prevented the problem. Being able to anticipate issues and develop solutions for them in advance will dramatically improve your chances of success.
  • Maintaining communications: With traditional project management, there’s a fine line between keeping people in the loop and overwhelming your team with a flood of emails and meeting invitations. Reducing status meetings and emails while keeping everyone in the loop is now possible with modern online project management software—where all information is accessible from one place.
  • Using technology effectively: Project management software has evolved dramatically in recent years, opening up new possibilities for collaboration, data management, communication and reporting. Using the latest tools will enable you to work more efficiently and maximize your effectiveness in every aspect of a project.

Interested in learning more about how you can lead your projects to success? Check out a product tour of Clarizen’s industry-leading collaborative project management solutions.

Thanks to Clarizen

This post was sponsored by Clarizen. Clarizen is a powerful project management tool that lets you connect social activity with tasks and projects in real time for a workflow that drives team collaboration and results across your organization. Start your free trial now.

By Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of I've been in the industry for more than 15 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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