Project Management Skills are Essential for Everyone in Business
Project Management is an indispensable function for business and is used as a means of achieving strategic objectives. The business world is speeding up and product lifecycles are much shorter. This is forcing organisations to start new projects at an increasing rate. However, as projects become more complex, project failures, delays, and missed deadlines are becoming increasingly common.
“Project management can be defined as a way of developing structure in a complex project, where the independent variables of time, cost, resources and human behaviour come together.” Rory Burke
According to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), this is why it’s crucial that every business leader should understand the nature of projects. Business leaders don’t have to have been practising project managers, trained to the ‘nth’ degree in project leadership competencies. At the very least, they need to be aware that the project world, the world that brings about a positive change outcome, is different from the ‘business as usual’ world.
A project is a temporary endeavour. The project is developed, implemented and monitored through project management to create a specific result in the organisation. Project management is a universal tool designed to provide an effective method to complete a project while staying within a predefined budget and timeframe, and while delivering a specific product or service at an acceptable quality level.
In order for businesses to successfully initiate, develop and complete projects, they need to recruit, hire and train people with solid project management skills.
So what exactly is Project Management?
To help project managers in contributing to an organisation’s success, there must be an alignment between an organisation’s mission, vision and priorities and the actual work being done. If strategy is the engine that drives the company toward its goals, project management provides the underlying framework – it protects against issues and risks. It is the discipline that guarantees that someone’s hands are always on the steering wheel and the project is heading in the right direction.
“Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward.” Joy Gumz
Project management offers a valuable and highly effective structure which helps to identify and focus on the priorities of a project, track and measure performance, overcome challenges and issues, address unforeseen risks as they arise and achieve higher performance and probability of success in each business endeavour.
Companies hire project managers so that targets set by the clients and stakeholders can be achieved within agreed timeframes. Project Managers help to keep the project cost within limits in combination with on-time delivery so that the ROI can be secured.
The key activities of Project Management comprise:
- Planning – projects are naturally chaotic. The primary business function of project management is organising and planning projects to tame this chaos. Without a schedule, a project has a higher probability of delays and cost overruns. A sound schedule is key to a successful project
- Managing Change – projects always happen in an environment in which nothing is constant except change. Project management manages change
- Encouraging teamwork – a project brings people together to share ideas and provide inspiration. Collaboration is the cornerstone to effective project planning and management
- Maximising resources – by enforcing project management disciplines such as project tracking and risk management, all resources are used efficiently and economically
- Controlling cost – some projects can cost a significant amount of money so tracking budget performance is essential. Using project management strategies greatly reduces the risk of budget overruns
- Managing quality – quality is the value of what you produce. Project management identifies, manages and controls quality
Why do companies need Project Managers?
Focusing on good project management and implementing the right tools and strategies to safeguard and enhance business performance and reputation should be one of the top priorities right now for any business.
“Project management is like juggling three balls – time, cost and quality. Program management is like a troupe of circus performers standing in a circle, each juggling three balls and swapping balls from time to time.” G. Reiss
Not only does a strategic project management function put increased control into the hands of those managing projects, processes and other operations, it also allows vital information exchange across the business and delivers essential management transparency.
Here are the five top ways that good project management can help your business:
- Dealing with the unexpected – Unforeseen delays from to ineffective planning, or neglecting to test assumptions can damage customer relationships, create extra costs and interrupt key processes. The ability to manage a project in a way which enables you to see and adapt around a potential delay can avoid these problems occurring in the first place
- Managing Business Risk – Managing operations via a solution which enables a full, complete and comprehensive capture of each step of a project or a delivery process, including exactly what happened, when and by whom, provides risk protection by enabling investigation and discovery
- Stakeholder support – Buy-in or funding can delay the start of a project and also enable effective resolution when and if problems crop up during a project. Clear senior stakeholder communication and reporting is vital throughout and the role of the project manager
- Consistency – Achieving what you set out to do, on time, every time, and with predictable costs, is directly linked to profitability and business growth. Doing so depends on having robust and repeatable processes which are derived from good project management
- Maximise resource output – Making the very most of people is financially critical in an economy in which, for the vast majority of companies, they are the most expensive resource of all. Careful resource planning on any activity or project, from a scheduled timing and hours of time spend perspective, and making real-time deployment changes as circumstances require is critical to business success
Project Management skills benefit all managers and leaders
Being a project manager is a specific leadership position which requires certain personality traits and qualities. A great project manager is able to deliver projects on time and within budget, as well as meet and exceed the expectations of stakeholders. From communication skills to negotiation skills, here are a few key project management skills that every business owner can benefit from.
“Those who plan do better than those who do not plan even though they rarely stick to their plan.” Winston Churchill
- Leadership Skills – A project manager is a leader – he or she sets the tone for the project, provides a clear vision of its objectives for the team and anticipates potential problems. Project managers are followed because they radiate enthusiasm and passion for what they do
- Communication Skills – Project managers know how to speak in public, communicating their ideas and reflections in a coherent and understandable manner. They also know how to provide constructive feedback and actively listen to their colleagues. Great communication is a must – to deliver the project vision, hold efficient meetings to make decisions or solve problems and send written communications
- Organisational Skills – Excellent organisation is a key feature of every project manager – that’s how they create a productive work environment, solve problems under pressure, stay focused on the big picture and prioritise their own responsibilities. When presenting their results, great project managers are able to recover all the necessary data and show an understandable vision of the project
- Problem Solving Skills – Every project manager works with a team of experts or consultants, using their expertise to solve problems in a most efficient manner. Nobody expects them to have a solution to each and every issue, but project managers must be able to use the knowledge of team members to produce a collective response to any problem experienced while delivering a project
- Team Development – When delivering projects under pressure, project managers are able to hold the team together. Leaders realise that problems can always be expected – coming up with plan B (and C) is something every project manager does routinely. Even if things get bad, great project managers radiate a positive attitude to the team, inspiring people and leading them through difficulties.
The value of project management training and certification
Project management is a problem-driven discipline. As we have discussed in the previous section, to be effective, a project manager needs to possess a wide range of competencies, be able to meet challenges and solve problems in many areas. The right training and certification is an essential step for managing the unexpected obstacles project managers can face on a daily basis.
“If you don’t know where you are going. How can you expect to get there?” Basil S. Walsh
Whether you are thinking of becoming a project manager, or simply want to learn how to acquire many of the skills that great project managers possess, or whether you are looking to gain a qualification in project management, then Brighton School of Business and Management (BSBM) has a training solution for you. You can carry out your course training online and via distance-learning so that you can structure your learning around your current lifestyle.
Brighton School of Business and Management offers three different project management courses, and if you start a course between now and 17th December 2018 then you will receive a 10% discount off your study fees.
The CMI online courses in project management we provide are as follows:
Our online CMI course, Introduction to Project Management, is designed to equip members of a project team or team leaders with the essential skills and techniques required to run successful projects in the workplace.
This online Advanced Project Management course is aimed at Project Managers who wish to enhance and develop their project management skills and knowledge, enabling them to perform their roles and responsibilities more successfully in the workplace. The course will develop your management competences, essential for successful management of small and large projects in the work place.
For those that are looking to gain a certified qualification in Project Management, we offer:
The Level 3 Award qualification in Project Management is ideally suited for new project managers, or managers wanting to develop their project management skills. The course covers the nature and context of projects, individual roles and responsibilities within projects, and the project management process.
With the increased need for project managers, qualified professionals are in great demand – so get 10% of the cost of study and sign up with BSBM today.