July 14, 2014


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

8 Skills Needed On The Project Management Road To Success

What Are The Project Management Skills Needed To Be Successful?

Are you cut out to be a project manager? I landed in the project management profession by accident, but I stayed there on purpose. It is because I love what I do and I suppose my natural strengths and skills are a good match for doing project management. Whether you have planned to became a Project Manager or whether it happened by accident, it is important to know what your strengths and skills are and if they match the skills needed to be a successful project manager.

Project managers need both leadership and management skills, with a knack for problem solving.

Project managers are there to plan and manage the work – NOT to do it!

So what is the Project Management Skills Set you need to be a successful project manager? Eight key skills needed for project management are explained here (but the list is by no means complete). 

1.   Be a Leader and a Manager

Leaders share and communicate a common vision (future state or end goal); they gain agreement and establish the future direction. They motivate others. Managers are results driven and focus on getting work done against agreed requirements. A good project manager will constantly switch from a leader to a manager as situations require.

2.   Be a Team Builder and a Team Leader

Projects are often cross-functional in that they use people who may not have worked together before. It is up to the project manager to set the atmosphere of the team, and to lead them through the various team development phases to the point where they perform as a team.

3.    Be an Excellent Communicator

Being a communicator means recognising that it’s a two-way street. Information comes into the project and information goes out of the project. All communications on your project should be clear and complete.

As a project manager you will have to deal with both written and oral communications. Some examples are documents, meetings, reviews, reports, and assessments. A good mental guideline is “who needs this information, who gathers and delivers it, when or how often do they need it, and in what form will I give it to them”.

4.   Be a Good Organizer

Let’s just think of the aspects you will need to organize; project filing including all documentation, contracts, e-mails, memo’s, reviews, meetings, specialist documents, requirements and specifications, reports, changes, issues, risks, etc.

It’s almost impossible to stay organized without having Time Management Skills – so add this to your list!

5.   Be a Competent and Consistent Planner

The skill of planning can’t be underestimated (and neither can estimating!). There are known and logical steps in creating plans. As a project manager you will certainly own the Project Plan, but it must be created with input from the team. Examples are Test Plans, Risk Management Plans, Hand-over Plans, Benefit Realisation Plans, etc. As long as you’re aware that planning should become second nature to you.

6.   Be a Problem Solver

Fortunately, this is a skill that can be learned.

Firstly, you need to identify the possible ’causes’ that lead to the problem ’symptom’. Now, causes can come from a variety of sources, some are: 

  • interpersonal problems
  • internal sources
  • external sources
  • technical sources
  • management sources
  • communication
  • opinions or perceptions

Having found the root causes, the next step is to analyze possible options and alternatives, and determine the best course of action to take in order to resolve the problem(s).

7.    Be a Negotiator and Influencer

Negotiation is working together with other people with the intention of coming to a joint agreement. And for all these you need to have some influencing skills. Influencing is getting events to happen by convincing the other person that your way is the better way – even if it’s not what they want. Influencing power is the ability to get people to do things they would not do otherwise.

8.   Set Up and Manage Budgets

At the heart of this is the skill of estimating – particularly cost estimates. Nearly always the project manager will need certain knowledge of financial techniques and systems along with accounting principles.

Part of the Project Plan will be something called the Cost Plan. This will show the planned cost against a time-scale. The PM will want to get involved in purchasing, quoting, reconciling invoices, time sheets, etc.

The project manager then needs to establish what has actually happened as opposed to what was planned and to forecast the expected final costs.

Well, this is only a summary of the main areas.

If you are new to project management, don’t be overwhelmed by all this – there are well understood methodologies, tools, guidelines, and procedures to help you on your way to developing the important life-skills of Project Management.

Have a look the Solid-As-A-Rock Project Management Toolkit to get started!

Efficiency Brings Effective Project Management

Efficiency vs Effectiveness

Effective Project Management

Effective Project Management

According to Wikipedia, a good way to distinguish between effectiveness and efficiency is to understand that effectiveness relates to ‘getting the right things done or setting right targets to achieve an overall goal (the effect)’. Efficiency relates to ‘doing things in the most economical way (good input to output ratio)’.

Companies are always looking, especially in this economy, for ways to make their work more efficient. This means new projects need to be efficient and streamlined: no wasting a company’s time or money. There is a high demand from corporations for technology that increases staff efficiency while keeping business costs reasonable. Poor project management is often the cause of lost revenue and resources for many businesses.

Billions are lost every year due to poor project management like when projects are handled inefficiently, dragged out beyond deadlines, or high costs beyond their means. Many different skill sets are necessary to ensure effective project management.

Effective project management eliminates any unnecessary costs associated with the project, making the work as cost-effective as possible. The project manager is responsible for keeping the project within the allotted budget. Keeping within budget can also keep the scope of the project in check; too often, both a project, and subsequently its budget, can grow out of control. Companies will pay for this mistake – a dual penalty of lost revenue and lost time.

Effective project management also guarantees efficient work by contractors for a task, matching the highest quality work to the best price. The responsibilities of project management are not limited to collecting bids from qualified individuals in order to complete the project, but also to determine if the company does in fact have the experience and knowledge to complete the work well. The project manager truly has to consider which company is best-suited for the task at hand.

A project manager must make sure that the project is meeting deadlines and keeping goals in sight. Effective project management will utilize software and other technology available to keep the project on target and meet scheduled goals. A company can lose a lot of money very quickly when one or more of its projects get off schedule.

Effective project managers ensure that all projects will be completed on time, within budget and with quality. They are responsible to control every aspect of the project, and regularly reporting its status back to company officials. An effective project management professional or firm can bring any project under control, no matter how unfocused or inefficient it was to begin with; their services can end up saving corporations millions in better-managed time and resources. It is commonplace now for companies to outsource their project management to consulting professionals or firms that will maximize efficiency and bring projects to completion within or even under budgets and deadlines, thus saving company resources.

As part of our Mission at Virtual Project Consulting, consistent delivery of Professional Project Management Consulting Services, Linky provides consulting to small to medium business owners and service professionals and supplies a Solid-as-a-Rock project management toolkit to help you be efficient in managing your business projects! Try it out now for only $27.

5 Social Media Tips

Tips To Optimise Your Use Of Social Media

Since I discovered social media in 2008, I went on a mission to learn how to use it, what it can do for my business, how to use it to drive traffic, which tools to use to automate it, how to connect with others and so on.  As most of you know, social media is a powerful tool for increasing the traffic to your blog, and there are many different social media tips.  Here I have selected five of the best tips that have worked for me so far.

1. Befriend power users

Power users are the users that exert the most influence on social media sites.  These users regularly submit content that gets popular and they have many people that follow them. Check out the popular content in your niche and see who is submitting them.  You’ll often find a select group of people who submit the bulk of the popular content.

Some ways to become friends with these power users are to vote for their stuff, send them interesting links, link to their site if they have one, leave comments on their blogs, interview them. Once you’re developed a relationship with them, you can send them your best material or products and ask them to submit it if they like it.

2. Create more comprehensive content

One of the things I have discovered through my own research is that the typical social media users have a great appetite for learning. For this reason the content that does well in social media is pretty comprehensive and often educational.  The content is longer than your average post and it covers a subject with depth.

Therefore, it is worthwhile to creating longer posts filled with much value as you will do better on social media sites as a result.  Now each of your blog posts doesn’t have to be 1,500 words, but try to regularly publish longer, in-depth posts that stand out and add value.

3. Add images and video to your best content

Another thing that works well, is adding multimedia to content.  This is another thing I noticed about viral content. Much of this content is highlighted by images and video. It only takes a little bit of time to go to flickr.com and google images to find relevant images that will improve your content.

Video seems to be the next big thing in blogging.  More and more people are making web video a part of their routine.  Therefore, if you have any video skills, use them!  Also, the cost and learning barrier for producing videos has come down with discount equipment, software, and training courses.  I’m definitely planning to add video to my sites soon to test how well it works.

4. Try niche social media sites

Instead of just focusing on the big general subject sites like Facebook and Twitter, there is a lot of opportunity in niche social media sites.  Here’s a great list of niche type of sites.  These sites won’t send as much traffic as the big general subject social sites, but the quality of their traffic is often much higher.  You’ll get a higher percentage of repeat visitors, a lower bounce rate, and more time spent on your site because of the more targeted traffic.

5. Use social media widgets at the end of each post

Widgets are a great way to encourage your visitors to submit your content to social media sites.  Visitors may like a post but without the prompting of a submission button, they won’t think to submit your content. I use ‘Share This’ at the end of each post to encourage readers to share content.

PS: Please feel free to add your own tips to this list as the whole point of social networking is to share, participate and learn from one another!

PSS: Related Social Media articles.

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