Your organization probably has people doing project management. Are you one of them? Perhaps you run a team or provide expertise as an individual contributor. More and more people are involved in project-based work, even if they don’t have the job title ‘project manager.’ PMI calls this the Project Economy, and McKinsey expects the world to see an investment of $130 trillion in infrastructure upgrades alone over the next five years.
Regardless of your job role, project management skills will ensure you succeed. Here are five reasons why you should consider upskilling yourself or your team in project management.
1. You’re more likely to get your work done
This is the headline for project management: if you can plan, schedule and organize your work, you are more likely to get it done on time, on budget, and in a way that meets stakeholder expectations.
Modern organizations who prioritize tech-supported working and flexibility deliver projects that meet their original goals 75% of the time. PMI calls these ‘gymnastic’ organizations because they can pivot when needed and focus on outcomes by tailoring the process to work the way it needs to every time.
Project management skills provide a wide range of underpinning tools and techniques that let you pick and choose from what works. When you tap into those skills, you’ve got vast resources at hand that can help you hit your deadlines and keep customers happy. Software tools help you keep projects and tasks structured and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
2. You’ll improve your communication skills
How many people have you interacted with today? From the reception staff to your boss, we spend a large portion of every work day interacting with colleagues across the organization. Sometimes that is in-person communication. Other times it’s tech-mediated, and you’ll be using your remote management skills.
Communication skills ensure that you can:
- Get your message across clearly, every time
- Share news about delays or issues to facilitate a resolution
- Present progress reports and share status updates
Project managers are trained in how to communicate effectively and efficiently. I’ll let you in on a project management secret: we have tools and templates that do a lot of the heavy lifting for communication. LiquidPlanner has a range of dashboards and reports designed to make it easy to share information with colleagues.
You don’t need to invest in expensive training if you have the right tools. Tailor your communication to the audience by ensuring they get the updates they need at the right time.
3. You can balance priorities
Project management is often described as herding cats or juggling – keeping many balls in the air. I would agree, it’s exactly like that! But many job roles need those skills, not just project managers.
You’ll have priorities to balance if you are a team leader, department manager, engineer, developer, marketer, driving school manager (yes, driving schools need project management tools) or any other role. Subject matter experts are often involved in several projects, plus they have their day job to do as well.
Project management skills help you decide what is a priority. Then use your project management tools to put those priorities front and center. LiquidPlanner is one such tool that is designed to help you prioritize when everything is top priority so you and your colleagues are always focused and aligned on the most important work.
Time-tracking and time management skills are part of a project manager’s toolkit, and you can use the same tactics to ensure your time is spent on the tasks that matter the most.
4. You’re better prepared for when things go wrong
Project management is all about looking ahead and planning for the future, but who has a crystal ball on their desk? What we really need are strategies to plan for uncertainty. Hoping for the best is not a strategy.
One of the top project management skills everyone needs is risk management. This is all about identifying things that might go wrong and preparing an action plan to deal with that uncertainty. Sometimes proactive actions can stop something from going wrong, and other times it makes the problem easier to deal with should it happen. Either way, tracking and monitoring risks related to your work helps you be more proactive. It gives you information to share with senior leaders about what might otherwise be a difficult message. It shows you have thought through different outcomes and can help secure support for the right course of action.
You’ll feel more confident and better prepared for whatever the future brings. If things do go wrong, you’ll have a thought-through plan ready to implement to minimize the impact.
5. You can learn from past performance
I was debriefing a project with someone the other day and she said, “I just can’t understand why we did it that way again, as it didn’t work the last two times.”
Unfortunately, organizations are not that good at learning from past performance. Whether that’s over-optimistic task estimates, choosing the wrong solution, or not leaving enough time for testing and training … often teams pursue a path that someone else has already been down. And tripped up at the end of it.
Project management practices show you how to reflect on past performance. Project management software is packed full of actual and forecasted data. It provides reports, dashboards, and other ways to extract and analyze the data. On top of that, capturing the experience of the team with a retrospective or lessons learned session gives you rich narrative data to learn from for the next time.
Having the skills to learn from what was successful (and what was not) will make you more effective in the future. You’ll be able to tailor what you know, change up your approaches and do more of what works.
Project management is not just for project managers. We can all benefit from tools and techniques that make it easier to get work done in a flexible, prioritized way.
About the Author
Elizabeth Harrin is author of Managing Multiple Projects and several other books. She is founder of Project Management Rebels, a membership community for project managers who want to deliver with more confidence and less stress.