Project management skills to boost your career

February 16, 2021 · 2 min read · By ASU CareerCatalyst

Project management skills are not just for project managers anymore. Projects are everywhere. Many companies are becoming more project-focused. So, even non-project managers can now reap a lot of potential benefits by learning a few project management skills. Here are the basics you need to know to advance your career and keep your skill set relevant.

Project management is a growing profession with both project managers and project management skills now in high demand.

Through 2027, the project management labor force is expected to grow by 33% and add 22 million new jobs worldwide, according to a recent study from the Project Management Institute.

Project management is no longer only a staple in heavily project-focused industries such as technology and construction. Even fields such as law or health care, which aren’t as project-oriented, are now implementing project management.

Experts say this represents a broader shift nationwide to a more project-oriented economy.

Project management for your career

A project is a temporary venture with a set timeline to create a unique product or result. This means almost all work in business is a project or part of a project, according to the Project Management Institute.

Even tasks in your personal life such as managing a kitchen remodel or planning a kid’s birthday party are project management. So, everyone could have a lot to gain by learning basic project management skills.

Project management processes focus on increasing efficiency, anticipating risk and fostering communication. The goal is to break up big projects into smaller tasks with a set timeline to ensure the project finishes on time and under budget.

Armed with some basic project management skills, you too can work smarter not harder. Applying the basic project management framework to your own work or personal projects can help you prioritize tasks, tackle complicated problems and be more productive.

Some companies consider these skills to be so valuable that leadership is starting to expect many of their non-project manager employees to know some project management basics.

Learning a few project management fundamentals can help you stay relevant and adapt to current shifts in the job market.

What are the most important project management skills?

You don’t need to learn all the technical details or have fancy software. Basic project management skills such as planning, time management, analysis and review are all you need to stand out at work.

Delve into these top four project management skills:

  1. Initiating and planning

    Whenever you’re assigned a big new task, the temptation is probably to jump right in and get started.

    But in the project management framework there are two steps before you get to the executing phase. These steps, called initiating and planning, can make all the difference when ensuring a project is set up to be a success.

    During the initiation phase, you determine whether the project is a good idea worth implementing. You also establish the project’s goals and deliverables. The planning phase involves breaking up big deliverables into smaller tasks and then setting deadlines for each part.

    The next time you have a big project on your plate you can implement these steps too. They will give you time to vet bad ideas and ensure everyone is on the same page. Also, having a clear goal and plan helps you stay on track and makes complicated projects less overwhelming

  2. Time management

    Distractions abound in today’s digital world. And even if you can ignore that Instagram notification, knowing how to best prioritize your time can be a whole other challenge.

    The planning step in the project management framework makes this easier. The schedule and deadlines you set can help you identify urgent tasks and prioritize work.

    Use this schedule to create daily to-do lists and plan ahead. If possible, get started on tasks early. This gives you a time buffer in case something takes longer than you expect and ensures you have enough time to do your best.

  3. Risk analysis

    Another key part of project management is anticipating the scenarios that could steer your project off track.

    Looking ahead to identify potential risks early helps you address problems before they become a nightmare. This gives you time to come up with an immediate solution or develop a plan to have just in case.

    It may take some time to get in the habit of looking ahead and anticipating problems. But this is another area where the project management framework can help. Having the tasks planned out makes it easy to track your work and quickly determine what may be falling behind.

  4. Project review

    When a big project finally reaches the finish line, it's easy to take a big sigh of relief and then never think about the project ever again. But without taking the time to reflect, you're missing out on a lot of important insights.

    The last step of many project management processes is a project review. In this phase, the project manager and team reflect on the project and talk about what went well and what didn’t go so well. This process helps the team replicate success in the future and learn from mistakes.

    Taking the time to reflect is crucial to self-growth, especially after a big project. Incorporating this step into your routine will ensure you’re consistently making time to learn and improve.

Advance your skill set with project management courses from Arizona State University.


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