Effective project management involves more than looking at Gantt charts and ticking items off a checklist. In their PMBOK Guide, the PMI identify 10 knowledge areas essential for effective project management.

John Lannon, Course Director of the online Masters in Project and Programme Management at the University of Limerick, explains each area and highlights the skills and approaches required by today’s project managers to successfully deliver a project.

project management skills

  1. Integration: How It All Comes Together

Integration management is the range of processes required to ensure all elements of a project are successfully coordinated.  As scope changes, effective project managers must be able to critically assess objectives and offer realistic alternatives which meet the expectations of all involved.

  1. Scope: Defining the What, When and Who

A project’s scope defines what is included and not included in any given project. A well-defined scope identifies every aspect of work needed to achieve the overall goal.  Effective project managers take the time to develop a clear scope at the outset, which ensures clear boundaries and clarity for members of the project team.

  1. Time: Making and Sticking to a Plan

Although time restrictions can and will always change, a well-structured schedule is critical to ensuring a project never strays too far from agreed deadlines. Having knowledge of the right tools can help project managers to define realistic time estimates and complete projects on time.  These can include Gantt charts, project network diagrams, critical-path analyses, fast-tracking and schedule performance measurements.

  1. Cost: Budgeting Time and Resources

Successful projects require accurate assessment, calculation and management of project costs. Great project managers put procedures in place to give full visibility of all costs, identify and communicate any risks to the approved budget, and work with teams to ensure timely and accurate spending reports.

  1. Quality: Setting the Standards

Quality management means making sure every aspect of a project’s design, planning and implementation is effective and efficient. Strong project managers will establish quality control procedures, standards and criteria to deliver a project that is fit for purpose and in line with expectations.

  1. Risk: Identify the Worst to Plan for the Best

Risk management refers to the identification and mediation of scenarios that may have a negative effect on the project outcome. One of the key skills of successful project managers is the ability to spot potential risks and tackle them efficiently using the resources at their disposal.

  1. Human Resources: Maximising Productivity

To manage projects is to manage people. Softer skills are essential to effectively engage, lead and direct teams of people. Effective PMs motivate people and keep the project moving, both in face-to-face and remote or virtual settings.

  1. Stakeholders: Managing and Meeting Expectations

Stakeholder management involves identifying and managing the expectations of people most affected by a project’s deliverables. The most effective project managers identify all potential stakeholders and influencers early on, and are mindful of their influence, impact, interest and involvement in the project outcome.

  1. Communication: Everyone In the Know

Successful communication management requires a good system for exchanging and reporting information. All team members and stakeholders should clearly understand what needs to be done and who is responsible for doing it. Good project managers will implement a system of focused, ongoing dialogue to avoid any misunderstandings or delays.

  1. Procurement: Getting the Goods

Procurement management involves building and maintaining relationships with suppliers of the goods and services needed. Successful project managers can identify needs as they arise, find the right suppliers at the right prices, negotiate with suppliers, sign contracts, ensure timely delivery and analyse the results.

The key to becoming a successful project manager

Today’s project managers cannot rely solely on tools and techniques; they require a broader, more holistic skill set. For project managers seeking new employment or professionals who wish to move into a more project based role, fluency in the 10 key areas of knowledge and expertise, as outlined by the Project Management Institute, can move you ahead of the competition and provide a solid framework for achieving project success.

For those looking to deepen their PM skills with a masters in project management, the MSc in Project & Programme Management at University of Limerick is delivered 100% online and helps learners to develop the complete range of project management skills and knowledge. An innovative and challenging course, it will strengthen your strategic thinking and capability to lead small, medium and even large-scale projects and to manage programmes of related projects.


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