Why do projects fail?
It’s a question that invites a lot of interest and significant statistics. And there are no wrong answers here. Skills shortages are a common opinion considering that the right skills have the power to revitalize a project. Conversely, a shortage of it can delay, halt or prematurely end a project. Competent employees are found to be unavailable for the period requested, stretched thinly or quantity-wise, simply insufficient. As a result, those few employees that can be assigned to the project end up putting in more overtime to get work done in the shortest possible time.
So, no, it’s got nothing to do with being unaware of essential skills, but more to do with the fact that you’re not alerted in time to skill crunches. Add to which, you have several projects to get off the ground, and some of them might need the same set of resources. The bid to distribute efforts optimally across the business turns into repeat cycles of finding, managing and repurposing schedules in order to respond immediately to newer resource requests.
It suffices to say that the right skills never go out of style, but which ones drive future projects? It’s all about relevance, adaptability to uncertainties and how these skills complement roles that align to business goals.
Which 5 Skills Make You Indispensable For The Future?
Skills relevance is the long and short of remaining indispensable. Technology is changing the way users interact with systems. In fact, with most of the global population now online via multiple devices, digital advancements have a big say in everything, from what we learn and how accessible training programs are to running things more smoothly at work.
And while the fear exists that technology such as AI will evolve to eventually replace human labor, the truth is there are some skills best done by us rather than a machine or computer. And here are 5 to make you a vital part of the chain –
1. Team Management
No one knows team dynamics better than a project manager, and a seasoned one would additionally know which teams work best together as a cohesive unit. After all, project management is all about gathering the right skills together and leveraging them across multiple projects.
Bearing in mind that with global teams several time zones apart and not necessarily work the same hours, team management would require managers to have unconditional insights into existing schedules, project workflows and ongoing workloads. This is where a resource management software comes in handy. It visually depicts year-long schedules with the capability to fix conflicts, and re-book or edit them in a way that fits work in without displacing existing priorities. You’re then instantly connected to your teams and can be alerted to project updates which include task statuses, milestones covered, goals hit and resources utilized.
2. Inspirational Leadership
While each person’s leadership style is unique, what dictates project success is how it’s used to establish strategic governance across steering committees, project teams, clients, and stakeholders. It also happens to be a skill that makes or breaks a project.
After all, it’s one thing to have textbook knowledge of project management methods, frameworks and practices but quite another to apply your experiential instincts in the practical context. For one, no two project managers think alike and know that the same concept applies to their team members as well. It then becomes a question of balancing competing interests and avoiding project setbacks along the way. The transition from a good project manager to a skilled leader comes with your ability to put your finger on the pulse. And the better able you are to estimate costs and resources, gauge team vibes and resolve risks, the better evolved is your style of leading.
As computing powers advance, so will the type of systems and equipment you’ll be using at work. This would require you to be adept at grasping newer technology. The rise in popularity of micro-learning programs is not accidental. It’s aimed at working professionals who wish to be agile on the job and relevant in the future.
The more versatile you become, the less intimidating new information would seem. Additionally, AI-centric programs such as data science would be incorporated into tools such that administrative activities can be automated. This would include laborious work such as data entries, report reconciliation and quality assurance checks, leaving you free to plan out project goals and business strategy at a higher-level. Being versatile is a skill that lets you wear multiple hats and not burn out from work imbalances.
4. Strong Communication
As far as transferable skills go, this is one that will involve your teams more closely with each other as well as with the work that they’re on. Not only does it let you know what your teams are up to but also lets you approve work and sign off on critical elements. Your teams, in turn can even spot and resolve roadblocks to slim down the chances of total derailment.
At a basic level, communication lets your teams have a word with each other before proceeding to the next task in the sequence. Considering how fragmented it gets when global teams are several time zones apart, it makes sense to streamline conversations, decisions, actions, schedules and task lists on a centralized channel. This way, as one half of your teams close a business day, the other half can proactively respond to action items that they’re tagged in. Another advantage is that a digitized record of all correspondences ensure facts aren’t twisted or withheld, thus ensuring everyone is pitching in towards the timely delivery of high-impact, high ROI projects.
5. Project Management Fundamentals
The thing you have to understand about project management is that it is a 50-50 split between experience and theory. And while relevant field-experience would bolster your suitability as a skilled leader, the basics of project management would help your project teams understand the internal workings of both agile and traditional frameworks.
Project estimation, task management and data analysis are a few areas that your teams could get started on, given that these areas utilize their input the most. The fundamentals of project management lets project teams step up to the plate in your absence and play a more active role in projects. This includes interpreting reports, measuring parameters and self-evaluating their own performances. What’s more, they can even deconstruct a project to help future teams avoid previous mistakes when revisiting project documentation.
Whether it comes from a resource or a budget perspective, project management is here to stay and understanding the skills needed to do your job prepares you to navigate a business landscape subjected to repeat disruptions. Despite this, the very fact that no business today can run without project manager and their teams goes to show how lucrative the profession is in a volatile economy!
Aakash Gupta heads the sales and marketing wing of Saviom. As a widely published author on resource management and workforce planning measures, he advocates for optimized workforce efficiency and the role it plays in generation true business value. Connect with him to know how, and more.