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To be successful we need to define the measures for success, such as delivering business value, meeting time and budget expectations, and satisfying stakeholder needs. Once metrics are defined, we need to implement effective practices that balance hard and soft skills while avoiding common pitfalls. As many practicing project managers will report, this is not as easy as it sounds.

Why Projects Fail

Projects fail for a vast number of reasons, but many of the top reasons are related to a fundamental lack of effective project management:

    -Inadequately trained or inexperienced project managers
    -Failure to set and manage expectations
    -Poor leadership at any and all levels
    -Poor plans and planning processes

Soft Skills

Largely intangible, interpersonal skills are not associated with a deliverable or concrete output, and they do not entail the use of tools or templates, yet they are critical to project success. Soft skills include:

    -Communicating
    -Negotiating
    -Influencing
    -Managing Expectations

Hard Skills

The more technical aspects of the project manager’s role involve the creation of tangible deliverables such as project schedules, budgets, work breakdown structures, and dashboards. These hard skills often involve the use of templates and tools such as scheduling software, spreadsheets, and modeling tools. Hard skills include:

    -Planning and Scheduling
    -Preparing Budgets
    -Optimizing the Critical Path
    -Assessing and Responding to Risks

Balancing the Two

A given project management task rarely involves either a hard skill or a soft skill; the skills are intertwined. For example, a seemingly hard skill task such as developing a project schedule cannot be done without applying soft skills as well. A successful project manager recognizes their essential integration and strives simultaneously to improve their balanced capabilities.

To learn more about the hard and soft skills required for successful project management, take a look at the infographic below created by Brandeis University.



A Balance of Hard and Soft Skills

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