The Necessary Skills
What are the project management skills required? Referring back to our hi-tech
information distribution example, these skills are not, as we might expect, an
in-depth knowledge of systems, computer technology or software. True, a sufficient
knowledge of these subjects was certainly required, but an unbalanced knowledge
of the project in this respect could actually be a barrier to successful project
performance. Rather, the skills sets, that is, for the members of the project
managing team, relate to the "people" dimension. For example, the project
manager or team leader, whatever he or she may be called, should have an ability
- Handle stress and take responsibility for the success or failure of the project.
- Lead through formal and informal authority, especially in a corporate matrix
environment, winning the support of the project's stakeholders for its goals.
- Organize and coordinate all contributors to the project, especially specialists
with superior knowledge, or stakeholders with vested interests.
- Foster positive problem solving and negotiation without compromising project
- Understand and deal with conflicts that inevitably arise, and achieve harmony
between diverging or opposing technical views, and arrive at timely closure.
- Assess project status and progress and make mature judgments that focus on
the success of the project.
What does all this add up to? Focused "communication" skills and
"people" skills. For many, particularly those who are more comfortable
with science and engineering or, for that matter, computer hardware and software,
this is "touchy-feely" stuff! They are far more comfortable with the
mechanistic aspects of project management, namely the tools and techniques of
time and cost control.
But this is the new reality. Projects are done by people and they must contribute
effectively and efficiently. Unless they are motivated and encouraged to do so,
and stay focused on the project's objectives, no amount of "tools and techniques"
will save a poor project from getting worse.