Must-have soft skills for project management and useful tools

Stepping into the role of project manager marks a significant achievement in your career, which is to be celebrated.

But, here’s a report that might surprise you: a considerable percentage of project failures happen due to a lack of soft skills. Yes, you heard that right. It’s not just about technical know-how. Without strong communication, leadership, and problem-solving abilities, even the best-laid plans can fall apart in a very short amount of time.

In other words, soft skills are essential for stewarding the complexities of project management, from team dynamics to stakeholder expectations. And let’s not forget the tools that can save you time and effort. 

Three soft skills you can’t ignore

1) Communication

Communication takes the top spot, and here’s why. You’re the middleman between stakeholders, team members, and possibly clients. Clear communication means everyone understands their roles and tasks. Think about it—how can you expect your team to deliver if they’re unsure about the goals or timelines? Simple, clear instructions and regular check-ins make all the difference.

2) Leadership

Leadership does come down to offering guidance, but it’s about inspiring and motivating your team to achieve their best. You want your team to feel supported and valued. Harvard Business Review points out that effective leadership considerably improves work performance.

Great leaders know when to step in and when to let their team figure things out – they also recognize and celebrate their team’s successes, which boost morale and productivity.

3) Problem-solving

Problems will pop up – that’s a given. Whether it’s a delay in the timeline or a resource shortage, you need to handle it without losing your cool. Problem-solving requires a mix of creativity and analytical thinking, which means you need to quickly assess situations, identify solutions, and implement them effectively.

Three tools that make life easier

1) Trello

Trello uses boards, lists, and cards to help you organize tasks, which makes it great for visual thinkers. You can see the status of each task at a glance, so you can track progress easily. 

2) Slack

Slack is a messaging app that keeps all your communications in one place. It supports channels for different topics or projects, making it easy to find information. Pings, instant messaging, and file sharing keep the conversation flowing, minimizing the time wasted on digging through emails. Forbes notes that companies using Slack see a considerable reduction in internal emails.

3) Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is for those who want to get into the details. It helps with scheduling, resource management, and progress tracking. It’s particularly useful for complex projects that require detailed planning. 

Where does strategic portfolio management come in?

Strategic portfolio management (SPM) comes in when you’re handling a number of projects at the same time. It helps you gauge the big picture better – it helps you when it comes to using your resources wisely, and making sure all projects fit your business goals. In a way, it helps you know your next move and how all the pieces work together.

With strategic portfolio management, you rank projects based on what they can bring to the table and how important they are. This way, your team can focus on the projects that actually matter and deliver the most bang for your buck. Get these down, and you’re well on your way to project management success.