Project Management Guide
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What Are Project Management Skills?

Project management skills are the necessary traits and competencies you need to be a successful project manager.

While “project manager” seems like a fairly straightforward job title, this role is responsible for far more than keeping projects on track. A project manager needs to:

  • Plan projects from conception to implementation
  • Map out timelines
  • Assess project risks and opportunities 
  • Execute each phase of the project life cycle
  • Create, allocate, and manage the budget
  • Communicate with all stakeholders
  • Troubleshoot problems and challenges
  • Deliver (and often maintain) the end product or service 

Sounds like a pretty big job, doesn’t it? Effective project management skills can help make those responsibilities at least a little bit easier.

15 key project management skills

What skills do you need to get projects across the finish line on time and under budget? 

While this list of essential project management skills is by no means exhaustive, it covers the core competencies. 

Project manager technical skills

Technical skills (you might also hear these referred to as hard skills) are the more tangible and measurable abilities required to be an effective project manager. 

1. Planning and forecasting 

It goes without saying, but proper project management requires skilled planning. This can be challenging, especially since many project managers need to make educated guesses about timelines and required resources. 

That’s where forecasting comes into play. Project managers need to use any information they have to make predictions and estimates. 

2. Risk management

Every project has risks. Perhaps a resource won’t be available when you need it, or delayed approval from a client will set your timeline back a few days.

Project managers are responsible for not only navigating around risks but anticipating them so that they can try their best to avoid them altogether. 

3. Budgeting

Only 2.5% of companies successfully complete all of the projects they take on. The rest go over schedule, over budget, or both. 

Project managers know that there are financial constraints they need to work within, and they use their budgeting and financial management skills to deliver winning projects within those limitations. 

4. Tracking and monitoring

Project management isn’t just about completing a project — it’s about completing a successful project. That won’t happen if project managers fail to keep their fingers on the pulse.

They need to use their performance tracking and monitoring skills to ensure projects are running according to plan and still supporting the broader business goals. If not? They’ll course-correct when necessary. 

5. Project management methodologies

From Agile to Waterfall, there are numerous project management methodologies and approaches. These outline specific principles for overseeing and completing projects.

Experienced project managers are familiar with those methodologies and can determine which ones are the best fit for their specific teams and projects. 

6. Meeting facilitation

Kickoff meetings, status updates, retrospectives — the typical project process has many meetings, most of which are led by the project manager.

For that reason, a project manager needs to be skilled at facilitating meetings, including creating an agenda, documenting notes, and following up on action items. 

7. Subject matter expertise 

Project managers work in a variety of industries, from construction to IT and everything in between. While it’s not an absolute necessity, it’s helpful for the project manager to have a basic familiarity with the industry and the types of projects they’re managing.

This level of expertise will help them more accurately estimate costs, timelines, and resource requirements. 

8. Project management software

The best project managers know better than to try to coordinate all of the elements of a project with jumbled spreadsheets and task lists. 

Instead, they’re experts at using project management software like Wrike to centralize communication, streamline collaboration, and iron out project plans.

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Project manager soft skills

Think these are nothing more than project management resume fluff? Think again. Soft skills really do carry weight. 

One 2016 study found that 93% of employers say that soft skills are either an “essential” or “very important” factor in hiring decisions. Let’s look at some must-have soft skills for project managers. 

9. Leadership

Project managers are the project leaders and often, the team leaders too. They’re responsible for setting the team’s vision and ensuring everyone is on board and motivated to bring the project through each phase.

This requires getting buy-in from executives and project team members. These leaders should also equip people with the time, tools, and other resources they need to handle their to-do lists. 

10. Communication

Any project management skills list is sure to include communication near the top. This includes written and verbal communication. 

Project managers need to ensure that team members and stakeholders are informed about the project plan, timeline, and budget and updated on the project’s latest happenings. 

11. Collaboration

It typically takes a village to complete a project. The project manager is tasked with rallying team members around the project vision, coordinating tasks, and ensuring that everybody works together effectively.

To make that happen, a project manager needs to be a skilled collaborator. This also involves conflict resolution, as occasional project-related disagreements are unavoidable. 

12. Time management

Every project manager will have numerous demands placed on their time — especially since they’re acting as the point of contact for so many departments and team members. 

They must be able to manage their own time and the time and capacity of all of the project’s key players. 

13. Organization 

Deadlines, resources, task dependencies — it’s enough to make anybody’s head spin, but a project manager views it as a fulfilling challenge.

The best project managers are exceptionally organized and able to keep track of all of the moving pieces. 

14. Problem solving

As much as you’d like to think that your project will go off without a hitch, unexpected issues are bound to crop up.

Project managers can’t be discouraged by a problem. Instead, they need to develop solutions to keep the project moving forward — even when the best-laid plans fall apart. 

15. Adaptability 

Project managers need to be adaptable. While planning is a core skill, they can’t be so rigid with their strategies that everything falls apart the moment something unanticipated happens. 

Project managers need to rebound quickly, roll with the punches, and find ways to keep the project moving forward.

How can I develop project management skills?

You’ll need to possess plenty of project management skills to thrive in a career as a project manager. 

Can you check all of them off? If not, don’t worry. There are several ways that you can develop your project management skills, including:


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