4 Key Project Management Skills Essential for Success


4 project managers using project management skills to discuss an upcoming project

As an environmental professional, having project management training is critical because it provides you with the competencies you will need to progress in your career.

Project managers are expected to use their knowledge and techniques to ensure project requirements are met and desired outcomes are delivered. In addition to using technical knowledge, project managers must also possess the right soft skills that will assist them in tasks such as, making decisions effectively, maintaining client satisfaction, and managing resource productivity.

Below, are four key project management skills to consider as a part of your environmental career development.

1. Communication

Communication is a very powerful and important tool for project managers. When working with different groups of individuals such as co-workers or clients, successful project managers know that excellent communication skills are key to ensuring projects are executed efficiently and effectively.

Project Management Tip: Communication skills can be difficult to master, but a good place to start is by intentionally improving your face-to-face and non-verbal communication. Once you feel comfortable with these, expand out to written forms of communication (emails, documents, etc.). By continuously working on and building strong communication skills as a project manager, you will be able to ensure that the right people receive the right message, in the right format, at the right time.

2. Risk Management 

Not meeting your clients’ expectations, poor management, budgeting and/or scheduling issues or health and safety problems are big risks that can negatively impact a project. Project managers who practice good risk management skills, can identify risks to minimize or avoid and develop recovery plans before the risk takes a large toll on the project.

Project Management Tip: A great way to improve your risk management skills is to complete a risk assessment during the planning stage of any project.

When completing your risk assessment, you should:

  • Record each known risk that could impact the project and evaluate the probability that it will happen and the impact that it would have if it did
  • Address potential medium-to-high risks through a risk response plan

3. Organization 

From updating budgets to managing your team, no two days are alike in project management and without organizational skills it can be very easy for project managers to become disoriented. To avoid this scenario, it is critical for project managers to look at the big picture, be detailed oriented, and be masters at multi-tasking.

Project Management Tip: Creating a project charter and following a scope management plan is a good approach to staying organized throughout the lifetime of a project.

While creating your project charter, ask yourself:

  • “What are the details, expectations, requirements, and deliverables for this project?”
  • “Is there a set budget?”
  • “How long do I have to complete this project?”
  • “Who is involved in the project?” “Who are the key stakeholders?”

4. Cost Management

Cost management is critical in ensuring that a project runs smoothly. You must be able to accurately estimate how much a project will cost, make sure your budget is effective and realistic, and monitor the costs throughout the duration of the project. Project managers who practice excellent cost management know how to utilize every penny from their available funds.

Project Management Tips: When building your project plan, always build in a contingency plan. This will help mitigate any unknown factors that may arise. You must also continuously keep your client’s expectations in mind and assure that the cost estimate reflects those expectations.

Project management requires training and continuous development of skills. This combination will support you and your organization in hitting targets and achieving goals with ease. We hope that we have helped you recognize the vast array of skills that are essential to becoming a successful project manager and that you begin to incorporate these skills into your daily work activities to grow as a professional.

Want to learn more about project management and essential skills? Check out our Online Training Courses to get a more in-depth view of the knowledge areas and attitudes that are most important for project managers.

By Vanessa Morgan

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