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Technical project management skills are those that are considered the "hard skills" of project management—planning projects, documenting requirements, and crunching the budget.

They're complementary to soft skills like communication and leadership, in that knowing how to talk about the details with team members and stakeholders can vastly improve communication and your ability to set expectations.

10 Technical Project Management Skills

Here's which technical project management skills and competencies to prioritize so that you can become a successful project manager, as well as get on the same page as your development team.

  1. Risk management: The ability to foresee risks and put mitigation plans in place allows you to keep your projects on track and deal with any unexpected changes or issues without too much disruption.
  2. Project management methodologies: Knowledge of methodologies like agile, Scrum, and Kanban (and when to use them) ensures that you are working with methodologies that best serve your projects and teams, rather than blindly following ineffective workflows.
  3. Project life cycle management: You need to be able to shepherd the project through each phase of its life cycle and complete the necessary tasks in each phase to set yourself up for project success.
  4. Financial planning and project budget management: Without a handle on how you're tracking against the project budget at all times, you can quickly find your project running over. The ability to forecast usage and planning accordingly will also help avoid that scenario.
  5. Project schedule and timeline management and forecasting: You need to be able to keep an eye on the timeline and adjust for resource conflicts or other unexpected changes, as well as use techniques like critical path method, resource leveling, and resource smoothing to meet deadlines. You should be able to forecast resources and demand in advance, to ensure feasibility and to secure the right resources before getting started. (There are also specific resource management skills to work on.)
  6. Tracking, monitoring, and reporting on progress: Tasks and overall project progress must be tracked and monitored regularly to ensure there are no delays, unexpected changes, or other issues. You need to be able to present status and delays to stakeholders or clients in a clear manner to set expectations and ensure they don't feel surprised down the road.
  7. Quality management: Strong knowledge of proper quality management and assurance helps ensure that the project and its deliverables have the intended outcomes, and that clients and stakeholders are satisfied with the results.
  8. Project scope management: A keen sense of what's in scope and out of scope will ensure the project sticks to its timeline and budget, and help you spot potential risks in the form of scope creep or gold plating.
  9. Project management software: You should be proficient in a few different types of project management tools, and display an ability to quickly get up and running on new systems when it comes to planning and tracking projects and initiatives.
  10. Technical knowledge: While not always required, having know-how in areas like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or WordPress will help you talk to your developers and other team members whose jobs required technical expertise.
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Why Are Technical Project Management Skills Important?

Here are some reasons why technical project management skills are important for digital project managers:

  • Fewer unexpected risks and issues derailing your project, because you'll be able to see them coming
  • Better adaptability to changes on your project, because you'll be equipped to deal with changes to resources, budgets, or timelines
  • More efficiently communicate requirements and problems to developers through technical writing, and better communicate with clients and project team members about the complexity of the project work
  • Quickly understand how client requests impact your budget, timeline, or scope, and whether it will be easy or difficult to fulfill
  • Assess project estimates from developers and other team members for accuracy
  • More innovative project solutions and process improvements, as you'll have the knowledge base to suggest ideas in this department

How To Improve Your Technical Skills

Once you’ve identified what technical project management skills you’d like to improve, follow these five steps to move forward and get started.

  1. Get a project management certification: Most certification programs are specifically designed for learning hard skills and technical skills. Popular certifications include the Project Management Institute's (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Scrum Master (for project managers using agile or Scrum methodologies), and The DPM School.
  2. Keep learning: Attend workshops, training sessions, and project management conferences; read project management books and industry publications; and take courses in project management specific topics, as well as technical areas like software development, software engineering, emerging technologies, automation, IT, computer science, or cybersecurity.
  3. Talk to your project team about what they do: Sit down with your developers and designers to find out more about what they do, what tools they use, and what processes they follow. This is also an opportunity to find out what's new and exciting in their field, and what they find challenging or exciting from someone with subject matter expertise.
  4. Network with your peers: Join communities (online or local/in-person) and connect with other project managers and digital project managers. Become a member of The DPM and get access to our Slack community, filled with conversations about all the ins and outs of project management.
  5. Find a mentor: Mentorship provides the opportunity to get personalized career advice and tips for improving your skillset from a trusted source. You can find mentors through project management communities or by asking around in your network or on LinkedIn.

What's The Difference Between Hard Skills And Soft Skills?

Project management skills can be split up into two categories: hard and soft skills.

A hard skill refers to knowledge that can be taught and easily evaluated, like our ability to use a project management system or create a project plan.

Our soft skills and interpersonal skills are what most people think about when they think about project managers:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership skills
  • Time management skills
  • Adaptability
  • Decision-making skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Collaboration and teamwork

What's Next?

Interested in a more technical project manager job? Read about the technical program manager role, which is a viable career path for a project manager with the right technical skills.

By Bethany Lang

Bethany Lang is a senior project manager with more than 9 years of experience in a variety of roles. They began their career as a grant writer and fundraiser for nonprofits before transitioning into tech as a project manager and trainer at both NeonCRM and Cornershop Creative, working with nonprofit organizations. They've also worked as a WordPress and front-end developer alongside their role as a PM.