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10 important skills for effective project management

Everybody can deepen and broaden his knowledge in project management with a certification However, the success of a project is not only based on such hard skills or job-typical qualifications. Especially personal, social and methodical competences, so-called soft skills, determine professional and personal success.

But what skills do you really need in project management to stand out from the crowd? Which help you manage your projects efficiently. We have listed the 10 most important skills below.

  1. Communication
  2. Collaboration
  3. Scheduling
  4. Organization
  5. Flexibility
  6. Time management
  7. Prioritization
  8. Creative ideation
  9. Quality control
  10. Meeting control

Read why the individual skills are important, how you can apply them and how you can put them into practice in daily project work using a project management tool.

1. Communication

Understanding others and being understood are the two driving factors that determine the progress of any project. Good communication is therefore essential for effective project management. A successful project manager must be able to communicate with his team, customers and stakeholders to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Communication helps him or her to dispel concerns, resolve conflicts and keep project stakeholders informed.

Remember to listen.

One of the key competences in communication is the ability to listen. If you want to communicate with your team, you must first listen to the concerns and needs of your team. Listen with the intent to understand - not to respond.

Sometimes you need to go beyond just listening and include body language. Once you start developing these soft skills, you will find it easier to understand what is being said and get to the heart of the matter.

Make sure to communicate frequently.

Another important component of efficient communication is its frequency. A successful project manager needs to communicate regularly with everyone involved to keep things on track. Irregular communication can cause doubts, uncertainties and delays in the course of the project.

Adapt your communication.

You can communicate regularly, but if you cannot communicate your point of view, what is the point? You need to adapt what you say to different audiences - your own team, stakeholders from other departments, executives, customers and so on.

Remember that communication only works if it is understood. You need to empathize with your audience, understand where they are coming from, and restructure your words to fit the context of their unique interests. Only then will they be able to understand what you are saying and put your words into action.

Communication in Merlin Project

Reports help to get a better overview of contents and information from the project and are suitable for passing on to people involved. The report view in Merlin Project already contains several reports that are included in the package. You can use them directly or adapt them to your own needs.

Reports in Merlin Project

2. Collaboration

Key project management skills such as collaboration and communication go hand in hand. The goal of soft skills, such as communication, should always be to facilitate effective collaboration.

The progress of a project depends on how well your team members coordinate to get things done. If they are not able to collaborate and work together on tasks, you will never meet your deadlines.

A successful project manager must help his team develop their interpersonal skills and reconcile any differences that arise. Build a workplace based on trust, where team members can rely on each other fully to perform their tasks.

It is also important that you use your interpersonal skills to work with management and project stakeholders. Incorporating their inputs and ideas is the key to a result they are satisfied with.

Collaboration in Merlin Project

In the utilization view you can see at a glance which tasks are due for each employee at what time. Find critical overloads and distribute the work in your team with just a few gestures - even across multiple projects. Finally never again overtime and boredom in a project!

If you release project files for the project participants, they can see the status of the project, but also enter times themselves. Through access permissions and individual passwords you ensure that everyone can only view or edit the project plans in which they are involved.

Even though not all users use Merlin Project, the software offers a perfect exchange with other programs. No matter where the data comes from, with Merlin Project you almost always have a way to transfer it. The same applies to export.

Utilization View in Merlin Project on the iPad

3. Scheduling

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), scheduling is another core element of project management. A project manager must effectively plan the schedule for a project if he wants his project to be successful.

However, planning and scheduling a project involves much more than just setting a start time and a due date. To plan a new project effectively, you must also rely on your leadership skills:

  • Plan the workload of each team member.
  • Set up project management processes.
  • Implement security measures for risk management
  • Monitor the critical path

It is important to clearly define the schedule and work breakdown structure of a project before you start working on it.

Always involve your team in this planning and negotiation process. It helps you to create a successful and feasible project work plan. This protects you from planning overly ambitious project plans that are inevitably delayed and plagued by project problems.

Scheduling in Merlin Project

With Merlin Project, you simply create the flow of your tasks, determine the duration and dependencies and define fixed milestones. You will be amazed how a precise project plan develops before your eyes in no time at all. The included project templates even accelerate this work.

Use the different views in Merlin Project to view the project. They allow you to edit and view the contents of your project plan in different graphical representations. Merlin Project contains views for the classic structural plan with Gantt chart, network plan and kanban board, but also for resources, assignments, reports and attachments.

Work Breakdown Structure in Merlin Project

4. Organization

As project manager you have a lot of responsibility. You have to deal with project tasks,
Team runs, cost management, the project plan, team management, project updates and customer expectations.

No one can manage all these things effectively without being organized. While most people generally associate organizing with boring, administrative tasks, it is one of the most important project management skills.

A structured, organized system helps you manage each of these activities and keep your workplace organized.

Organization with Merlin Project

Structure your project into individual phases or groups and create subtasks for the tasks.

File documents as attachments to the tasks in your project. So you have everything important available in one place - your project plan.

Attach not only any files to tasks in your project, but also further information: For example, use checklists to organize smaller tasks and manage upcoming project deadlines. Attach problems that arise to tasks and make yourself aware of risks by assigning risks to the project phases. Merlin Project's rich attachments keep your project file at your fingertips.

Attachments in Merlin Project

5. Flexibility

Your project team is not a homogeneous unit. They are a group of people with different preferences, goals and key competencies but also problem solving skills. Your goal as a good project manager is not to minimize these differences, but rather to create project management processes that are flexible enough to deal with them.

A good project manager must also be flexible enough to deal with the different teams involved in a project. Your engineering team will have different needs and objectives than your product management team. Your goal is to create a successful working environment that is flexible enough to integrate each team seamlessly.

Flexibility in Merlin Project

A project always requires teams from different areas (e.g. sales, marketing and support) to work together. However, different departments prefer different tools. Technical teams prefer to work with agile tools, while other teams such as marketing or sales prefer list-based tools.

That's why we introduced hybrid project management with Merlin Project. A simple change of the view in Merlin Project turns the classic work breakdown structure into a network plan or even a kanban board. The data basis remains the same, only the display changes. And best of all, every user can adapt his view to his own preferences.

Views in Merlin Project

6. Time Management

Budget, time and scope form the project management triangle (also known as triple constraint) and are the 3 cornerstones of every project. As project manager you have the most influence on time management. You are not responsible for your own time but also for the time of your team.

It is important that you work on your productivity skills with time management tactics such as the Pomodoro Technique. The work is divided into 25-minute sections - the so-called pomodori - and break times (about 5 minutes). It helps your brain to stay productive and keep you at an optimal level throughout the day.

When it comes to the team, an effective project manager needs to set clear rules for the time spent on specific tasks and responsibilities, so-called time boxing. It is a good idea to keep track of the time they spend on tasks and help them understand where they are losing time and what they can do about it.

Time Management with Merlin Project

Merlin Project has the most comprehensive range of time management options available and can therefore detail any project situation.

By linking and date specifications of individual activities, you can control the sequence and thus the timing of your project.

You can assign a status to activities status to activities. You use 5 status values (The activity is completed, behind the schedule (>10%), slightly behind the plan (=<10%), in the schedule or future / unplanned) to define how far it has already been completed. The report views "Status" or "Status compact" show you an overview of the status of your project.

Project Status in Merlin Project

7. Prioritization

Certain tasks are more important and urgent than others. A good project manager must be able to recognize this and structure the workflow of his team in this sense. Use your project management knowledge to understand an assignment and identify its essential project tasks. Use your problem-solving skills to understand the correct sequence of tasks to be tackled.

Often the project is made up of the work of individual teams. The teams start with their own tasks, all of them are brought together at one point during the course of the project and finally, together, they reach the goal.

An effective project manager uses their decision-making skills to decide which task to tackle first. You are the one who enters the pieces and knows how they will move criss-cross to form a solid whole.

Prioritization mit Merlin Project

The priority in Merlin Project is always determined by the start date and the
Order of the individual tasks. Link activities to each other to determine the sequence in which they are performed.

Linked Activities in Merlin Project

8. Creative Ideation

A manager must use his problem-solving skills and critical thinking to creatively develop ideas and strategies for a project plan.

It is the project manager's job to steer the innovation and push his team to develop smarter and better products. However, a situation in which the project manager only controls the innovation will never be successful.

Use this opportunity as a team-building exercise. Involve your entire team in the process and value their insights and opinions. This enables them to develop their communication skills and critical thinking in the workplace.

Involving your team in this process will make it much easier for your company to develop a successful project. This is because you are using the problem-solving skills and critical thinking of the entire workforce - not just one individual.

Being creative with Merlin Project

Start your project with a mind map. Especially for brainstorming this tool is a fantastic tool to support your creativity. Produce groundbreaking ideas in your team. Create your project plan conceptually as a mind map and Merlin Project automatically transfers your input into the work breakdown structure.

Merlin Project Mind-Map on the iPad

9. Quality Control

Quality management is not only about solving problems. It must be a core component of every successful project - it ensures that every step in your work breakdown structure is optimized.

You need to eliminate all unnecessary, irrelevant steps in your team's workflow that are of no benefit. Often these steps and project management processes complicate things and delay your results.

Make sure that clear rules and objectives are set for all remaining steps. You want to establish a precise, repeatable process for managing tasks that your team members can easily follow. Once you have done this, all phases of your project will run perfectly.

Qualitätskontrolle mit Merlin Project

Use checklists to make sure that everything that needed to be done was done. Set milestones as intermediate goals in your project.

Set Milestones in Merlin Project

10. Meeting Control

Team meetings can help to develop creative ideas, address concerns and plan the future together. But they are also time-consuming and not always necessary. In addition, every team meeting also involves a lot of time consuming tasks, such as preparing the meeting, letting everyone know, getting together and sitting down, distributing refreshments, eliminating small talk and other non-topic related conversations. Not to mention the fact that a meeting basically eats up the valuable time your team could spend on essential project management work.

It is therefore important that an effective project manager retains control over the project meeting. He should ensure that

  • the personal meeting is absolutely necessary and cannot be solved via chats or status updates online
  • the meeting is efficiently structured to minimize the loss of working time.
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Use these essential project management skills to take your project management to the next level. The best thing about these skills is that they are applicable to all project management methods. Whether waterfall, agile or lean, you will find these project management skills extremely useful.

Becoming a great project manager is also easy if you use the right management tools. Merlin Project provides all the functionality you need to use your project management skills to successfully manage projects. Whether you use it on Mac, iPad or iPhone: Merlin Project is the perfect choice for managing your projects!

Posted by Stefanie Blome on March 2nd, 2020 under Project Management
Tags: soft-skills capacities

Merlin Project on the Mac and iPad

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