8 important, but often overlooked project management skills | Federal News Network (2023)

Some people might believe that project management can be a simple job, since there will be many employees working on a certain project. In reality, project management is consistent of various responsibilities and other sub-tasks within the job itself.

Along with that, the people making up a manager’s team will have to work in perfect unison and collaboration. This makes project management especially challenging and requires a certain set of skills.

In addition to the...


Some people might believe that project management can be a simple job, since there will be many employees working on a certain project. In reality, project management is consistent of various responsibilities and other sub-tasks within the job itself.

Along with that, the people making up a manager’s team will have to work in perfect unison and collaboration. This makes project management especially challenging and requires a certain set of skills.

In addition to the standard skills anyone would expect a project manager to have, there are also certain ones which can often be overlooked. Here are some very important and helpful skills a project manager should have, even if they don’t often get noticed.


This skill seems like it would fit better in product management. However, creativity plays an important role in managing federal and government-funded projects, as it can help find solutions in difficult situations.

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The lack of creative thinking was one of the reasons why Obamacare failed. When the bill passed, many businesses found themselves under pressure from the government, unable to pay for the insurance of their employees.

The Obamacare policy and the inability to alter the bill put many businesses in a no-way-out position.

Thus, companies were forced to drop full-time employees or transfer them to part-time status and stopped hiring altogether. All this happened because the policy failed at offering flexible solutions for businesses across the U.S., making this federal project a failure.

Quality Control

Although it seems essential, another skill that is often overlooked in managers hired to curate a federal project is the ability to control and ensure quality.

Lack of quality control in project management can be best observed in the example of the failed New York City’s CitiTime Management project that cost the Bloomberg administration $700 million.

The project intended to automate payroll operations, and was executed by the Citi bank. The initial cost of this project was $68 million, but it quickly skyrocketed to $700 million under the management of Mayor Bloomberg’s Budget Director and the Office of Payroll Administration.

What could potentially be a great solution for the city turned out to be a failed attempt at quality control. The City of New York Department of Investigation, among the general fraud allegations, cited the following deficiencies:

  • inadequate executive oversight
  • failure to hold contractors accountable
  • failure to plan for future city control over management and maintenance of the projects

All the cited deficiencies indicated that Bloomberg’s administration failed to control the quality of project execution, leading to the loss of a $700 million project.

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Communication Skills

These soft skills are essential in project management. The lack of communication skills can lead to unforeseen expenses, violation of deadlines, and project failure as a result.

Bad communication was one of the reasons why the government dropped the $1 billion U.S. Air Force ERP project.

This Enterprise Resource Planning project was a great idea to integrate all the tech systems that the Air Force used in one comprehensive software.

The project, however, lacked one leader who would organize the communication and could be held accountable for all the decisions. As a result, the Air Force officials restructured the program three times, constantly changing the list of requirements, and finally dropping the project altogether.

As a result, a government-funded project with a lot of potential failed because of poor communication.

Tech Knowledge

You might think that when the government hires managers to lead technology-related projects, they will make sure to look into the project manager’s knowledge and experience in technology.

However, history shows that tech knowledge can often be an overlooked project management skill. This time, the situation took place in the U.K. and cost the government £10 billion.

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The NHS patient record system was to be one of the world’s most innovative record tracking systems. The project, however, failed because the new regional IT systems that managed the NHS patient record system were poorly managed.

One of the problems that led to the project failure was the inability of the government to manage IT projects because of the lack of tech knowledge and experience among the Members of Parliament, who could delegate the management of this project to more competent professionals.


In the NHS example above, the 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 entirely relies on the management’s ability to properly distribute tasks.

For instance, writing services websites and the quality of the work they deliver largely depends on how well each team leader distributed the writing tasks to its subordinates according to their knowledge and experience.

The same works 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. The lack of proper delegation skills in project management can lead to considerable expenses, and, ultimately, can end in failure that costs the nation billions.


When the project is very ambitious, prioritization is one of the key skills that a manager should have to lead this project to success.

However, planning and prioritization skills can also be overlooked, as in the example of the FBI’s Virtual Case System.

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This project cost the U.S. government $170 million and intended to modernize the FBI’s tech systems and diverse 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 project failure:

  • lack of blueprint
  • repeated changes in specification
  • micromanagement

All these reasons indicate the lack of proper planning and prioritization in project management, which, after five years of indecision, forced the U.S. government to drop this project altogether.

Reaction to Stress

In the FBI’s failed project, another reason cited in the official report was the frequent change of managers responsible for this project. This leads to one more overlooked project management skill, which is the reaction to stress.

Government-funded projects often involve considerable sums of money, which adds responsibility and, as a result, stress. That is why project managers that work on government-funded ventures need to be stress-resistant and to preserve the ability to remain calm and think clearly in difficult situations.

Spirit of Collaboration

One more project management skill that is often overlooked is the ability to create an atmosphere of involvement and collaboration. Many of the above-mentioned projects failed because managers lacked this essential ability.

This ability includes the above-mentioned skills of delegation, creativity, quality control, communication and prioritization. A good manager for a federal or government-funded project should be a team player that understands the role of every team member in reaching the project’s goal.


Government-funded projects involve a great deal of responsibility and accountability. That is why the screening process for 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 make sure that they hire a person who will push the matter through.

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Daniela McVicker is a career consultant and freelance writer.


What are the 8 skills that a project manager must have in order to be an effective manager? ›

8 hard skills a project manager should have
  • Negotiation.
  • Relevant technical skills.
  • Writing.
  • Organization.
  • Prioritization and goal setting.
  • Project planning.
  • Delegating.
  • Budget management.
Jan 25, 2021

What are the 3 most important skills of a project manager please explain why? ›

The most important skills of a project manager include leadership, communication, time management, negotiating, team management, and critical thinking. Furthermore, he/she must also be able to keep up with the project management trends and use the tools they have to their fullest.

What is the most important project management skill? ›

One of the most important skills for project management skills is communication. Great communication and effective leadership typically go hand-in-hand. Project management involves leading teams from different departments who may not be used to working together.

What are the main functions of a project manager list down at least eight 8 functions? ›

Those responsibilities include:
  • Plan and Develop the Project Idea. Every project starts as an idea. ...
  • Create and Lead Your Dream Team. ...
  • Monitor Project Progress and Set Deadlines. ...
  • Solve Issues That Arise. ...
  • Manage the Money. ...
  • Ensure Stakeholder Satisfaction. ...
  • Evaluate Project Performance.
Jun 30, 2021

What are the 10 processes to sharpen your project management skills? ›

  • 10 Key Project Management Skills and Competencies to Master in 2022. ...
  • Leadership skills. ...
  • Effective communication. ...
  • Planning and strategic thinking. ...
  • Team management. ...
  • Time management and scheduling. ...
  • Task management skills. ...
  • Risk mitigation.

What are the four important skills required of a project manager? ›

7 Essential Project Management Skills
  • Effective Communication. From project kick-offs to stakeholder meetings, project managers are constantly communicating. ...
  • Negotiation. ...
  • Scheduling and Time Management. ...
  • Leadership. ...
  • Technical Expertise. ...
  • Risk Management. ...
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving.
Aug 12, 2019

What is the hardest thing a project manager does what's the most important? ›

As a project manager, one must ensure that the risk of working on a particular project remains low. This might be one of the hardest tasks to deal with, especially if the project manager is affected by internal issues, like unrealistic deadlines, poor teamwork and lack of budget.

What 4 leadership skills should a project manager possess? ›

Leadership Skills for Project Managers
  • Motivating and inspiring. Leaders develop a vision and then continually communicate that vision throughout the organization, working with the team to achieve the vision. ...
  • Team building. ...
  • Negotiating and communicating. ...
  • Listening and influencing.

What are the three most important things in project management? ›

Communication, leadership, and management are three key attributes that you need in a successful project manager. Hiring executives look for these attributes when they appoint or hire project managers.

What is strong project management skills? ›

That includes planning projects, assessing risks and opportunities, creating budgets, communicating with stakeholders, troubleshooting problems, and more. Of course, the skills required to get projects across the finish line are particularly useful for people who want to start or grow their careers as project managers.

What is the most important part of project management? ›

If innovation is required to be successful, the most important job of a PM is to nurture an environment where the team can innovate. To do this, the PM must communicate with team and stakeholders throughout the project; focus on solving problems, and create space for failure.

Which of the following reasons for project management failure is the one most often overlooked? ›

Scope creep

Scope creep is hard to spot because it often comes on slowly—you could even say it creeps up on you. It's what happens when project deliverables exceed the project scope, and you end up with more work than you bargained for.

What is the most challenging part of project management? ›

Top 9 Challenges of Project Management
  1. Communication. The Problem. ...
  2. Lack of Clear Project Goals and Alignment With Business Objectives. The Problem. ...
  3. Lack of Accountability. The Problem. ...
  4. Unrealistic Deadlines and Planning Fallacies. ...
  5. Resource Allocation. ...
  6. Inadequate Project Budget. ...
  7. Scope Creep. ...
  8. Insufficient Risk Management.
Nov 26, 2021

What are the three 3 skills they look forward to from a project manager? ›

Here are the three “must-have” skills for every successful project manager:
  • Communication and interpersonal skills. It is often said that the primary reason projects fail is due to communication mishaps, not for technical reasons. ...
  • Ability to negotiate and resolve conflicts. ...
  • Building commitment within the team.
Apr 10, 2019

What is the 8 function of management? ›

Gullick and Urwick have described the functions of management as POSDCORB referring to planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting and budgeting. Koontz and O'Donell have included planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling.

What are the 7 main functions of management? ›

The 7 functions of management are as follows:
  • Planning.
  • Organising.
  • Staffing.
  • Directing.
  • Coordinating.
  • Reporting.
  • Budgeting.

What are the 5 C's in project management? ›

The 5 Cs of managing projects, Complexity, Criticality, Compliance, Culture and Compassion, tell you how much and how often to do the things we do. There are five, they fit on your hand, and they go in order. The first three, complexity, criticality and compliance, are about the work, and that's where we begin.

What are the 7 C's of project management? ›

There are seven core elements that if considered will contribute to the organization's project decision-making process. The seven elements (7 C's) are: customers, competitors, capabilities, cost, channels, communication, and coordination.

What are the 5 critical success factors in project management? ›

Five Critical Success Factors for Project Managers
  • Agree on the project goals. ...
  • Develop clearly defined plans with assigned responsibilities and accountabilities. ...
  • Manage the project scope effectively. ...
  • Cultivate constant effective communications. ...
  • Make sure you have management support.
Aug 3, 2010

What would the main 5 tasks of a project manager be? ›

Project managers play the lead role in planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing out projects.

What is the most important soft skill for a project manager? ›

Organization is one of the most critical soft skills of project management to possess. One of the main reasons companies seek out a project manager is to find someone capable of organizing a large number of moving parts.

What are the six general skills all project team members should have? ›

Top 6 Skills Necessary For Project Teams
  • Basic project management knowledge. In this competitive era, it has become essential that the team members also possess knowledge of project management. ...
  • Problem-solving skills. ...
  • Conflict resolution skills. ...
  • Team Conversation. ...
  • Risk management. ...
  • Customer management skills.
Oct 11, 2021

What is one of the biggest challenges a project manager faces? ›

Scope creep is a classic project management challenge that refers to how the requirements of a project change from what was originally agreed at project initiation. It's common — one of the top challenges cited by project professionals — and doesn't need to cause too much drama if managed effectively.

Which is the most important factor for a project manager to be successful? ›

A competent and committed team. Putting the right team together is essential to delivering any successful project. After all, the project consists of all the tasks the team needs to complete. So the project manager is ultimately really managing people.

What are the 9 best practices of project management? ›

9 Best Practices For Successful Project Management
  • Ensure all stakeholders understand the requirements. ...
  • Create a risk response team. ...
  • Create a detailed work plan. ...
  • Communicate effectively. ...
  • Develop both leadership and technical competencies. ...
  • Monitor and track progress regularly. ...
  • Look out for potential risks.
Jul 30, 2018

What are 3 qualities a manager or a leader must possess to be successful? ›

Research theorizes that of all the qualities of a good manager, soft skills are king. SHRM found that employers care more about soft skills such as active listening, communication, and flexibility than they do technical abilities.

What are the 3 management skills that managers must have to be effective in their roles? ›

Robert Katz identifies three types of skills that are essential for a successful management process:
  • Technical skills.
  • Conceptual skills.
  • Human or interpersonal management skills.

What are the three C's of project management? ›

The 3 C's of Project Management: Clarity, Culture, Course Correction.

What are 3 main factors of every project? ›

  • 3 key factors to have a project success. Recent studies have been investigating the project successes factors. ...
  • Synergic Teamwork. A successful project is made by teamwork that knows their importance on it. ...
  • Leaders with vision and imagination. A successful project is led by project managers prepared for future events.
Apr 11, 2019

What defines a good project manager? ›

Planning skills of the best project managers:

They are able to anticipate how events will turn out. They see connections (dependencies) between activities. They leverage the experience and knowledge of the team to create solid project plans. They are able to make good estimations (based on experience)

How would you describe your project management skills? ›

Project management skills are the competencies and traits a person needs in order to effectively coordinate a project from start to finish. A project manager leads a projects team using good communication, interpersonal skills, motivational skills, and organization.

What is the most common mistake in project management? ›

5 Critical Project Management Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
  • Not Setting Clear Project Goals.
  • Not Focusing on Personalities During Team Selection.
  • Not Reporting Necessary Data.
  • Prioritizing 'Urgent' Tasks Over 'Important' Tasks.
  • Not Managing Scope Creep Proactively.
  • The Right Software Can Help Keep Your Projects Afloat.
Nov 14, 2022

What are four common reasons why project fail? ›

11 reasons for project failure
  • Poor planning. Although sometimes overlooked in importance, lack of planning can make a project fail. ...
  • Inconsistently defined resources. ...
  • Unclear objectives. ...
  • Lack of detail control. ...
  • Lack of transparency. ...
  • Lack of communication. ...
  • Change of direction. ...
  • Unrealistic expectations.
Sep 30, 2022

What causes poor project management? ›

The most prevalent reasons for project failures, according to Project Management Institute research, include changes in organizational priorities, improper requirements collection, and changes in project goals.

What is poor project management? ›

Although the project manager is responsible for project success, if they fail to manage project goals, costs, schedules, the project teams, and the change requests properly, they are demonstrating poor project management. Poor management is bad for the organization, the projects as well as the team.

What is a common problem within project management? ›

Poor Communication

Poor communication can lead to significant project management problems. Project managers must provide direction at every step of the project, so each team member knows what's expected. Effective communication to everyone involved in the project is crucial to its successful completion.

What are the 3 responsibilities of a project manager? ›

Specific responsibilities of the project manager

managing the production of the required deliverables. planning and monitoring the project. adopting any delegation and use of project assurance roles within agreed reporting structures.

What are the skills required to become a project manager? ›

7 Essential Project Management Skills
  • Effective Communication. From project kick-offs to stakeholder meetings, project managers are constantly communicating. ...
  • Negotiation. ...
  • Scheduling and Time Management. ...
  • Leadership. ...
  • Technical Expertise. ...
  • Risk Management. ...
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving.
Aug 12, 2019

What essential skills should a project manager have? ›

These 10 skills are the most important soft skills for project management:
  • Collaboration. Collaboration is the cornerstone of all project management skills. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Leadership. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Problem solving. ...
  • Critical thinking.
Jul 29, 2022

What are the skills and qualities of project manager? ›

Project managers must have strong communication skills to be able to convey messages to clients and team members. They need this skill to effectively share their vision, goals, ideas and issues. They also need communication skills to produce presentations and reports.

How can I improve my project management skills? ›

How to improve project management skills
  1. Complete training courses. ...
  2. Ask for feedback. ...
  3. Study project management methodologies. ...
  4. Job shadow project managers. ...
  5. Sign up for content from professionals in the field. ...
  6. Incorporate team-building exercises. ...
  7. Track your time. ...
  8. Use templates.
Dec 12, 2022

What makes a great project manager? ›

Good project managers understand and know their market and the industry of their projects. They study the competition and evaluate alternatives. A good project manager stays up to date on the latest trends in the industry of their project, and they exhibit a solid understanding and expertise of their industry.

Which five skills you would consider important for project managers in current times? ›

However, they're equally (if not more) important — especially for project managers who are responsible for bringing so many different people together.
  • Leadership. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Critical thinking.

How do you describe project management skills on a resume? ›

The best project manager skills to include on your resume
  • Communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Leadership and teamwork skills.
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Time management and organizational skills.
  • Risk and cost management skills.
  • Performance monitoring.
  • Technical skills.
5 days ago

What are the 4 skills managers need? ›

4 must-have general management skills:
  • Visionary leadership.
  • Strategic thinking.
  • Negotiation and conflict management.
  • Team-building & interpersonal skills.

What are strengths and weaknesses in project management? ›

Project strengths include any aspects of the project that make it likely to succeed. Some examples are detailed project requirements, an engaged customer, robust project management software, and experienced team members. Weaknesses: Weaknesses are internal factors that may make it difficult for you to succeed.

What are the 4 C's of leadership? ›

The importance of the four C's in leadership: Candor, Commitment, Courage and Competence are necessary to maintain strong and effective soldiers. A reflection of a good leader shows in his followers.


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