Why project management is crucial
We all manage a project – it’s called life. The skills we learn in managing our lives, our tasks, work, budgets and so on are the skills used in project management.
But as a profession, project management focusses on planning, managing and delivering an initiative within the boundaries of a clear scope or guideline, fixed timeframe and/or budget.
Project management is important because without a project manager, there is unlikely to be a meeting of needs and results.
Clinton in’t Veld, national general manager of Scope Training which trains people in project management, says not having a project manager leads to cost and time over-runs, unhappy stakeholders, brand damage, trust erosion, poor quality work and unwelcome surprises.
Amid Sargheiny, project management professional with Johnstaff Projects, says a good project manager can have all the technical tools and techniques to lead a project, but if there is an incorrect company culture, neither the project, nor the project manager will succeed.
“If you’re not able to communicate in your company, if you’re not able to build that relationship and if your culture doesn’t promote (the needed) set of qualities, you cannot use any of those other tools,” says Amid.
“A project manager should be proactive and able to foresee problems before they come to light. But if the culture in which you’re working is not proactive – let’s say it’s managed by crisis – you can’t be proactive even though you know you need to be.”
Some of the vital skills of a good project manager are:
- Foresight: You need to foresee the steps towards success. If you can break down these steps, identify and understand the problems, then you can properly delegate to the right person for them to find the solution.
- Technically competent: If you’re technically competent in your field, you will more easily and quickly identify problems and the team members who can solve it. Technical understanding enables proper scope definition and the ability to outline the needs, the solution, and how it will be fit for a purpose.
- Analytical skills: These are vital to check potential solutions and make sure they fit within the project scope’s requirements. Also vital for managing budgets and analysing any potential cost or scope creep.
- Communication: If a potential project manager doesn’t have excellent communication skills, they should be given another role. Effective communication is needed between project parties, the stakeholders, the design team, the contractor and everyone who is involved with the project. There will always be problems and they need to be sorted so that each party is satisfied and able to continue working toward the common goal.
- Delegation skills: A project manager cannot be a micro-manager. They need the ability to delegate problems.
- Take responsibility: A project manager needs to be confident and comfortable enough with themselves to take responsibility for things that have not worked, rather than blame others. A culture of blame leads to a culture of fear and people being afraid to properly communicate both problems and ideas for solutions.
- Leadership skills: Project managers are managing a project and managing people. They need to be a good leader and make sure that the client and the sponsor are getting value for money.
- Planning skills: “Expert planner” could be another name for project manager. Proactivity is key and you need to properly foresee probable issues and risks so you can plan around these.