The Skills You Need to Be an Effective Project Manager

  • Nov 28,2018
What does it take to be an effective project manager? The answer may surprise you. If you’re like most, you’ll probably say skills such as leadership and negotiation. Sure, these matter. But there are three additional skills that are critical in today’s fast-paced, data-driven world.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Take the time to strategically think through and plan for both the long and short term—even if that plan changes. A tentative project plan can help prevent missed deadlines, overblown budgets, and a lot of stress. Tools like resource allocation, utilization dashboards, and reports give you the data you need to devise a plan. For example, BigTime’s “shift allocations” feature allows users to move allocated staffer hours without re-entering any data. It makes planning for the future easy.


Most of us work in a data-driven, chat-based workplace, and yet communication among teammates and clients can still suffer. Take the responsibility of communicating the right information to staffers and clients to keep everyone on the same page, and working toward the same goal. It’s a simple step that can help you hit deadlines on budget, while maintaining team morale and client satisfaction. Not everyone needs to know everything. Filter what’s important for staffers to know and make it easily accessible. Run reports and make them public, so staffers can learn about project statuses and billable hours. Or meet with staffers to talk about their billable utilization rate. At the same time, keep your clients informed. A tool like resource allocation gives you tons of project details at your fingertips, so share relevant information with clients to prevent unpleasant surprises, like an invoice for twice the amount to which you agreed to.

Manage Your Time

Project managers often complain about being stressed and overworked. Although it’s not easy to manage multiple projects, staffers, and clients, you can reduce your stress and workload by managing your time effectively. A good question to think about is: how do you spend the hours in your day? Perhaps you can reduce the number of times you check email or the number of meetings you attend. The idea is reduce the less important tasks so you can focus on the important ones. At the end of the workday, create a plan for what you want to accomplish the next day. Then, prioritize: get the most important stuff done first. Or as Peter Drucker put it: “Put first things first.” For example, from 9am to 11am use resource allocation to plan for the first quarter in 2019. Use this mentality in your project planning as well and you’ll find that deadlines become more manageable when you focus on what matters most. The project management skills explained above may seem obvious. But sometimes the obvious gets overlooked and simple fixes are what you need to get the most from your staff to hit project deadlines on budget and to have happy clients.