THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: Be A Better Project Manager

| By: Richard Tan, Member, Project Management, NUS-ISS

NUS-ISS lecturer Richard Tan pens his thoughts on how to become a better Project Manager in order to support today’s business challenges.

In today’s global economy, organisations are constantly seeking ways to improve their efficiency and competitiveness through the efficient utilisation of IT.  Strong IT leadership and the implementation of relevant IT governance processes are some of the critical factors that must be in place. At the same time, organisations are placing more emphasis on Project Management to ensure the successful implementation of IT projects.

This was substantiated by the recently concluded NUS-ISS survey on the Project Management critical success factors in Singapore where about 87% of the respondents indicated that project management expertise is a contributing factor while about 86% of the respondents indicated that soft skills were just as important.

The foundational Project Management skills are critical for both experienced and aspiring Project Managers. The good news is that these hard skills can be taught through practice-based teaching and experiential sharing and collaboration in the classroom.  Those who have mastered the foundation of these Project Management essentials can tip the scales in their own favour.

As part of career advancement, Project Managers should also consider the professional accreditation through widely available courses and certification programmes. They help Project Managers become more effective by understanding and validating the use of the relevant best practices.  At the same time, it ensures consistency in the usage of standardised terminology within projects.

Whilst harder to quantify, personal traits, interpersonal and behavioural skills are just as critical for Project Managers.  These soft skills allow the Project Manager to proactively manage and engage the project stakeholders and project team members.

To be effective, a Project Manager should possess some of these soft skills by being:

•    Responsive to change – Maintain a good line-of-sight of the core business processes, understand how and where your project fits with the overall strategic goals of the organisation and, at the same time, be receptive to requests from stakeholders without losing sight of their objectives.

•    A strong communicator and team player – Be a good listener, ask the right questions at the right time to ensure that your project is aligned with agreed objectives.

•    A constant learner – Learn by looking from various different situations when tasked with a problem, and surround yourself with people who possesses the desired knowledge and skills.

•    Outward looking – Resist focusing purely on Project Management processes. Be conscious of the project impact and outcomes and you will be less likely to “miss the forest for the tree”!

•    A good leader and mentor – Be a leader by example who builds relationships and takes a keen interest in developing your team members professionally.

Project Managers must evolve by mastering both foundational and soft skills to meet the new business challenges. In summary, here are three top tips to a good Project Manager:

•    There is no shortcut to foundational skills and best practices – invest in knowledge, courses and certifications to accelerate successful project implementation.

•    Get involved in the business side of things – Acquire in-depth and relevant knowledge about how to integrate project management processes with business outcomes.

•    Work on personal traits, interpersonal and behavioural skills – They will help increase your overall productivity and project success.


For more information on NUS-ISS' suite of Project Management courses, click here.