Some people might believe that project management can be a straightforward job because many employees will be working on a certain project. In reality, project management is consistent with various responsibilities and other sub-tasks within the job itself.
At the same time, the people who make up a manager’s team will have to work in unison and in perfect collaboration. This makes project management particularly difficult and requires a certain set of skills.
In addition to the standard skills that are expected of a project manager, there are also some that can often be overlooked. Here are some very important and useful skills that a project manager should have, even if they often go unnoticed.
This skill seems to fit better into product management. However, creativity plays an important role in the management of federally and government funded projects as it can help find solutions in difficult situations.
Lack of creativity was one of the reasons Obamacare failed. When the bill was passed, many companies found themselves under pressure from the government, unable to pay for their employees’ insurance.
Obamacare’s policy and the inability to change the bill puts many companies in a dead end.
Thus, companies were forced to lay off full-time employees or transfer them to part-time status and stopped hiring altogether. It all happened because politics failed to deliver flexible solutions to businesses across the United States, making this federal project a failure.
While this seems essential, another skill that is often overlooked among managers hired to organize a federal project is the ability to control and ensure quality.
The lack of quality control in project management can be best seen in the example of New York City’s failed CitiTime Management project that cost the Bloomberg administration $ 700 million.
The project aimed to automate payroll operations and was executed by Citi Bank. The initial cost for this project was $ 68 million, but it quickly skyrocketed to $ 700 million under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg’s budget manager and the payroll administration office.
What could be a great solution for the city turned out to be a failed attempt at quality control. The New York City Department of Investigation, among general fraud allegations, cited the following shortcomings:
- inadequate executive control
- lack of accountability of entrepreneurs
- failure to plan for future city control over project management and maintenance
All of the cited shortcomings indicated that Bloomberg’s administration failed to control the quality of project execution, resulting in the loss of a $ 700 million project.
These soft skills are essential in project management. Lack of communication skills can lead to unforeseen expenses, missed deadlines and project failure.
Poor communication was one of the reasons the government abandoned the US Air Force’s billion dollar ERP project.
This enterprise resource planning project was a great idea to integrate all of the technology systems the Air Force was using into one complete software.
The project, however, lacked a leader who would organize communication and could be held accountable for all decisions. As a result, Air Force officials restructured the program three times, constantly changing the list of requirements and ultimately abandoning the project altogether.
As a result, a government funded project with a lot of potential failed due to poor communication.
You might think that when the government hires managers to lead technology-related projects, they will make sure to look at the project manager’s knowledge and experience in technology.
However, history shows that technological knowledge can often be a overlooked project management skill. This time the situation unfolded in the UK and cost the government £ 10bn.
The NHS patient record system was to be one of the most innovative case tracking systems in the world. The project, however, failed because the new regional IT systems that managed the NHS patient registration system were poorly managed.
One of the problems that led to the failure of the project was the inability of the government to manage IT projects due to the lack of technological knowledge and experience among the MPs, who could delegate the management of this project to more competent professionals.
In the NHS example above, project management also lacked delegation skills.
The ability to delegate and assign tasks is one of the most crucial in project management. The performance of some companies depends entirely on the ability of management to distribute tasks well.
For example, writing service websites and the quality of the work they provide largely depends on how each team leader has distributed writing tasks to their subordinates based on their knowledge and experience. .
The same goes for government funded projects. The responsibility here, however, is much more serious than in product management.
Governments fund the majority of their projects with taxpayer money. Lack of proper delegation skills in project management can lead to huge expense and ultimately end in failure costing the nation billions.
When the project is very ambitious, prioritization is one of the key skills that a manager must have to carry out this project.
However, planning and prioritization skills can also be overlooked, as in the example of the FBI Virtual Case System.
This project cost the US government $ 170 million and aimed to modernize the FBI’s technological systems and various information assets. After five years of back and forth negotiations and restructuring, the project was abandoned.
In its report, the FBI cited the following reasons for the failure of the project:
- lack of plan
- repeated changes in specifications
All of these reasons point to the lack of proper planning and prioritization in project management, which, after five years of indecision, forced the US government to abandon this project altogether.
Reaction to stress
In the failed FBI project, another reason cited in the official report was the frequent change of managers responsible for this project. This leads to another overlooked project management skill, which is stress response.
Government funded projects often involve considerable sums of money, which adds responsibility and, therefore, stress. This is why project managers who work in government funded companies must be stress resistant and retain the ability to remain calm and think clearly in difficult situations.
Another project management skill that is often overlooked is the ability to create an atmosphere of involvement and collaboration. Many of the projects mentioned above failed because managers lacked this essential capacity.
This ability includes the aforementioned skills of delegation, creativity, quality control, communication and prioritization. A good manager of a federally or government funded project should be a team player who understands the role of each team member in achieving the goal of the project.
Government funded projects involve a great deal of responsibility and accountability. Therefore, the process for selecting project managers, in this case, should be more elaborate.
Federal agencies should look beyond the standard set of skills they look for in project managers to ensure they hire someone who will move the file forward.
Daniela McVicker is a career consultant and freelance writer.