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7 must-have project management skills

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Aug. 28, 2017
A good — or bad — IT project manager can make the difference between a project coming in on time and on budget and it being a failure. How can you spot a good project manager? CIO.com talked to project management professionals and IT executives to find out. 

 

Organization

A stereotypical image of a project manager is someone who is the consummate multitasker, but the ability to “multitask alone won’t help project managers meet all of the demands they face in their role; organization is key,” says Mills. “This means prioritizing tasks, compartmentalizing projects to avoid confusion, and neatly documenting anything and everything for future reference and easy access. Part of the organization process also involves envisioning all steps throughout the life of the project and predicting problems that might arise.

“As a PM, your task is to make sure processes run smoothly and are in line with the common goals,” says Danielyan. Therefore, “the ability to organize multiple complicated processes in uncertain conditions is essential – [and] prioritizing, planning and scheduling skills are critical. You need to always be ten steps ahead to quickly and efficiently achieve the desired outcome – or deal with a challenge if needed."

 

Prioritization

“Information overload is a very real phenomenon, especially in the modern workplace,” notes Andrew Filev, CEO of Wrike, the developer of project management software. “There is a limit to the amount of stuff our minds can process, a.k.a. our cognitive load.” So “to succeed in the next decade, [project managers] must be able to manage this deluge of data and extract the useful bits from the noise.

“They need to be masters at prioritizing [and] time management if they intend to be successful,” he continues. And they have to stay focused and “be strategic despite all the pings and notifications that will have them running to put out fires.”

 

Problem solving

Much of problem solving in a project management context revolves around being able to identify and manage risk. “Many projects miss their scope, budget or delivery timeline due to unexpected surprises,” notes Tim Platt, vice president, IT Business Services, Virtual Operations, an IT support and managed services company. “The great PM is always on the lookout for risk – and how to mitigate that risk.  He or she knows how to ask the hard questions of the team and continuously confirms decisions, timelines and dependencies. In a well-run project, there shouldn’t be a surprise. There should be a risk log and mitigation plans for all items, and the PM is in the best position to ensure that’s covered.”

“Dealing with obstacles is without a doubt an essential skill for a PM,” agrees Danielyan. “A good project manager [can] identify risk early, find the cause(s) of the problem, weigh different options [and] define and implement the best solution possible.”

 

Adaptability

“In a fast-paced environment, particularly in the tech industry, changes – whether that's new processes, standards or technologies – happen fast,” explains Senaya. “Planning is vital, but the ability to adapt to changes and work with your team to overcome challenges is just as important.” That ability to quickly come up with a workaround or change course is absolutely “necessary to be successful in a fast-paced environment.”

 

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