How To Kick-start Your Project Management Skills
Organizing, motivating, planning and controlling are all attributes of a project management role. To put it simply, Dr Martin Barnes (former president of the Association for Project Management) stated ‘at its most fundamental, project management is about getting things done’. This article reveals the true nature of a project management role, providing insight into what is required to become a successful Project Manager.
What is Project Management?
In simple, project management is a role devised to manage changes within a project. This can be a project as vast as the Olympics, or as small as a birthday party. David Higgins, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority kept things simple; two years of planning, four years of construction and just a single year of testing before the games. This plan was put under much scrutiny by the media, but David was confident he could deliver one of Britain’s most successful events to date. David attributed his success to planning, meticulous attention to detail whilst thinking outside the box.
- By organising different activities to fulfil the needs of the main objective, a project manager can be used to introduce or improve a service or product.
- Relying on teamwork is crucial to a project but a project manager must delegate well and lead by example, effectively delegating through different ranks to ensure that the targets are met on time, costs are budgeted and quality is delivered. So, how can a Project Manager produce great project management?
- Have strong communication and rapport skills, effectively communicating with peers quickly in order to get the job done.
- Patience is a virtue; learn how to contribute by sitting back and listening. By listening to the needs and wants of stakeholders, you will be able to facilitate a far better project for everyone involved.
- Plan every bit of detail regarding the project; when, how, what, who. Learn from successful events in the past to see how meticulously a project was planned to cover every possible scenario. Doing this will provide you with the kind of depth needed to complete a project successfully.
- The key to a successful project is a happy team; you must be able to motivate a team on cue if passion is lacking. Look at team building exercises that you can draw upon, perhaps taking some public speaking classes too.
How to Become a Successful Project Manager
I have learnt that there is a hefty responsibility that comes attached to being a project manager. I have personally managed multiple construction sites on an international level and project managed engineering work so have had to be focussed and pay attention to detail so that errors do not fail the project.
You will have to work to tight deadlines making sure you adhere to the delivery of projects on budget and time. Like with many roles out there, you can either work as a freelance or hold a permanent role within a business if you so desire. Permanent positions can range from £45 to £100,000 depending on seniority.
The profession of project management does take on board industry-standard certifications. Three of the main accredited programs are the PMI (Project Management Institute), Prince2 and MSP. For any professional who is looking to further oneself into the world of project management, certifications are seen as the foundations which your career stands upon; the more certifications you have, the stronger your career will be. Most potential employers will have a set amount of certifications they are looking for when it comes to finding a candidate to fill a certain role so do make sure you take a course.
Enhancing Your Skills As A Project Manager
A project manager will always use their skillsets effectively to get the job done. One project may require certain skills, whilst another project may require a whole different set of skills completely. These skills range from analytical thinking and organization to problem solving and time management skills. There are notable people from our history which have proved themselves to be astounding project managers and here a couple to learn from:
- Steve Jobs – The late apple founder always remarked that it was essential that every project at apple had a DRI, a directly responsible individual. Even after his death, Jobs was project managing; leaving behind a plan of four years of products.
- Theodore Judah – Judah was the chief civil engineer in charge of the Central Pacific Railroad in the USA. The railroad ran through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to an altitude of 7,000 feet; but was never allowed to exceed more than a 105ft climb per mile. This project was successful.
Project Management Tools
When it comes to projects, project managers must understand and utilise various tools to help facilitate the needs of a project. Different tools have their fortes and purposes but a successful project manager will know when to draw upon each one when needed.
- Brainstorming is the first tool needed in the project management process. Brainstorming in short is a way to get all your ideas out there, whatever they are. This is an effective way to start the process, simply because it can be the most creative; one of the only random and free thinking techniques when it comes to the project management process.
- Fishbone Ishikawa Diagrams are used a lot of the time when it comes to fault detection, business improvement and manufacturing and production. The typical model analyses cause and effect, analysing what different factors may impact the project.
- Critical Path Analysis are usually known as flow charts. This tool is one of the most logical methods to plan and manage vast complex projects, usually revealing the colliding timings of independent factors within a project.
- Gantt charts are perhaps the most important resource when it comes to project management. Used for scheduling and budgeting, Gantt charts are the industry standard tool for communicating project plans to peers and clients.
If you kick-start your project management with some of the tools and skills mentioned here today, you may be climbing up that success ladder soon!