You probably know that there are many new trends and growing opportunities for specific professionals in the job market. Over the past few decades, new professions have been created and others have become high-demand positions, some of which are directly related to a career in project management.
But in case you did not know, here’s why: Work is becoming more and more project-based. Indeed, this transition has been underway for some time now. For example, in this research, Bain and Company, a well-known consulting firm, came up with a few ideas about what the “business of the future” would be like and one of the predictions was that by 2027 most of the work would be project-based, with agile teams as the predominant organizational unit.
Additionally, according to the Project Management Institute, also around 2027, growth in project-related work is expected to be 33%. We know time is running out, so why not stay ahead of the game and jump into this exciting career now?
1. Define project management
Before diving into a career in the field, how about learning more about it? Project management, as the term suggests, is the operation of planning, executing, and completing a project. The project manager generally manages everything, such as project scope, team collaboration, as well as the resources assigned to the project.
In this area, there may be the “traditional” project manager – one who is formally trained in the management and has the official title of “project manager”. There are also people known as “unofficial project managers,” people who regularly work with traditional managerial tasks and responsibilities, such as overseeing and completing projects.
2. What skills are essential for a career in the field?
When building a project management career path, a person may be faced with several qualification options, but as with most professions, acquiring some specific skills is a big part of what will enable true success. in the field.
Project managers are team leaders, a position that presents unusual challenges and requires certain skills, not only technical but also interpersonal. Let’s find out about some of them.
2.1. Technical skills
Plan and anticipate
Project management is above all good planning. The manager must make strategic choices to apply the right methods, resources, and time allocation. It must also perform intelligent analytics to plan schedules, anticipate potential obstacles along the way, and avoid perimeter changes.
Ability to manage risks
Projects can certainly be unpredictable. Somewhere along the way, a manager may face risks that, while alerting them, should never stop them from continuing. Maybe an invested resource that didn’t yield good results, or a late approval that pushed the schedule back a few days. An effective project manager is adept at managing risk and creating strategic solutions. Managers should try to anticipate these risks and do their best to avoid them generally.
Another unpredictable thing about projects is how much they can go over budget. The goal is to keep the plan under financial control, but many details and events can get in the way. Managers must encourage development while respecting the financial constraints of the project. To do this, they must use their budgeting and financial management skills and deliver quality projects despite these constraints.
Monitoring and surveillance
The goal of any project manager is to start and finish a project successfully, but a lot of unforeseen things can happen between these two stages. Throughout the time a team is working on a project, it is the manager’s job to keep track of what has been achieved and what remains to be done. They must also monitor every step to ensure that projects are executed according to plan and that they are moving in the same direction as overall business goals.
Knowledge of project management methodologies
While project managers tend to have excellent organizational skills and intuitions, the best-case scenario is when they are also skilled in project management methodologies and approaches. This knowledge brings a more seasoned approach to managing projects, resources and teams. But we will talk about the methodologies later in this article.
Strategic business knowledge
As you probably know; project management is a discipline that is not specific to any particular market sector. This wide range of fields means even more types of projects to manage. This is why the manager needs to understand the main elements of the industry in which he is inserted, in this way it will be easier to be more assertive at work, to estimate and allocate resources, in more to establish more precise deadlines.
Experience with project management software
A well-prepared manager does not rely on common tools to coordinate their projects, such as spreadsheets or to-do lists. Instead, they prioritize using smart solutions like software to assign and visualize tasks, centralize communication, track their time, and structure project plans.
2.2 Personal skills
Yes, technical skills are extremely important for a career in project management, but this position is so strategic that it also requires someone with emotional intelligence and other interpersonal skills. Here are some of them.
S took criticism
In a project, the contribution of the team is undeniable, but when it comes to big decisions that can influence the outcome of the project, managers are fundamentally responsible. They can’t take too many risks or accommodate themselves. Critical thinking is an aspect of personality that must be present for them to make better choices, considering all the important aspects.
As we said above, the project managers are responsible for the operation, but without the notion of management, the “position of power” leads to nothing. Perhaps the most important aspect of being a project manager is having managerial quality, which means managing people, but also supporting, motivating, and understanding them.
Another important quality for any project manager is the ability to communicate their feelings, expectations, and needs. People often trust their managers to clarify work issues. That’s why managers need to be able to articulate what they need for their team, colleagues, stakeholders, and even customers.
Patience and resilience
Projects often run into difficulties, team members aren’t always in sync or at their best, and changes in project requirements happen… In short, things don’t always go as planned, in reality, this is rarely the case. Managers must be patient and resilient to deal with these obstacles and, most importantly, manage a solution to overcome them while encouraging the team.
3. Where to start your studies?
This career has several educational options to choose from. You can start slowly with introductory courses or, if you decide to formalize your title, you can obtain official certifications in the field. As this article is aimed at those who are just starting their journey to become a project manager, let’s take a closer look at some tips for the beginner level, but if you’re looking for more advanced options, why not check out our full guide to training to learn project management? Just click the button below.
3.1 Learn the basics of project management
If you are just starting your journey in the field, embarking on advanced project management studies may not be a very good idea, as you are unlikely to have some basic knowledge.
Given this scenario, to start your education, check out these introductory online courses at EDX, Coursera, Udemy, or Alison. They introduce you to the basics of project management, and while they aren’t very advanced, you can still learn valuable lessons that will be invaluable as you progress to specialist-level courses.
Another great way to start professional training is to follow this LinkedIn learning path. You can complete it in less than a day and it covers several topics such as key requirements, timelines, budgets, team management, communication, risk management, and many more topics. Seek to get as much information as possible from these platforms before embarking on the more complex ones.
And, of course, we cannot forget the first source of knowledge: books! You can find a variety of written materials available for purchase, whether physical or digital books. The internet and bookstores are full of great titles on project management, especially when it comes to introductory and basic manuals. You can even watch this video we prepared with great book recommendations for the beginner level:
Once you have learned the basics of project management, you can also choose an area to specialize in. There are 10 knowledge areas: Integration, Scope, Timeline, Cost, Quality, Resources, Risk, Communication, Acquisition, and Stakeholders. The more you specialize, the easier it will be for you to gain your first experience in the field.
3.2. Alternative methods
Another way to study project management is to seek work experience in the field, this way you will have tangible and applicable knowledge. However, to work in the field of management, you will probably need some basic knowledge, so we come back to why you should include introductory project management courses on your resume.
Of course, there are other sources of learning, so we also recommend using the internet to your advantage. Just like the article you are reading right now, you can find many other rich documents available online. When you feel ready, you can delve deeper into the field and begin a specialization by earning a degree or certification.
An important part of project management is the variety of methodologies a project manager can choose to work with. To name a few, there is Waterfall, Lean, Scrum, Kanban, and others. Let’s have a look at some of them.
According to this methodology, the activities are carried out sequentially, from top to bottom, simulating a waterfall, hence the name “waterfall”. This method is normally used in projects with a clearly defined scope of work, as it brings rigidity to the execution, which means that it is only possible to move on to the next phase if all the previous ones are already completed.
This approach aims to make projects as lean as possible, generating significant cost reduction and waste mitigation. In the Lean method, only what is necessary to carry out the project is used. In short, it is about saving and using resources wisely, while ensuring the greatest value for the products or services provided.
Scrum is an agile project management methodology that allows you to optimize business development time. This method is guided by 3 basic principles:
- Transparency: a clear alignment between the actors of a project;
- Inspection: every step is inspected and closely monitored;
- Adaptation: the project is subject to adaptations during its execution.
This methodology is very visual and typically uses colorful boards with lists and task cards to track the entire development of a project. A more basic way to use Kanban is when three columns are created: “To do”, “To do” and “Done” and the tasks move from one column to another as they occur. are completed. Interesting, right? These are just a few of the many methodologies that can be used to manage a project. If you want to know more about them or other approaches, it has prepared this comprehensive list on this topic.
5. The importance of technology in project management
Remember when we said that one of the skills of a project manager should be to learn about smart solutions? This is because technology is essential in this job. It has the power to make work considerably easier, faster, and more efficient.
For example, the software is a relatively new automated solution that allows you to relentlessly manage all the critical points of a project, such as:
Alert stakeholders on the progress of each step/task;
- Send automatic communications upon detection of delays;
- Manage the levels of overload or lack of productivity of each employee;
- Help set priorities;
- Manage cost control;
- Facilitate collaboration between team members.
Working with software and other technology tools as work facilitators is a smart strategy because project managers need a clear overview of the project. And as William Deming, the famous engineer and management consultant, once said, “What can’t be measured can’t be managed”.
The technology also provides greater control over important factors, as with a single click it is possible to access a client’s specifications, view each stage of the project, the percentage of work delivered by a certain date, check delivery dates, dispatch activities, and even track budgets.
Bringing business intelligence to a project through technology means ensuring better control of details that could go unnoticed by the naked eye. But it doesn’t stop there, it also promotes the ability to access critical information from anywhere in the world and communicates with other project members, as long as there is internet access. The technology also helps businesses generate comprehensive reports on individual performance metrics, budget charts, and timelines, making it easier to understand what’s going wrong or what can be improved. Do you understand why a project works better when a project manager partners with an IT department?
6. The market for project managers
In this role, there are several positions that a professional can occupy, for example, Project Manager, Program Manager, Portfolio Manager, Scrum Master, etc. The list can extend to senior and management positions (director of project management or chief operating officer).
When it comes to industries, there is a misconception that project manager jobs are only for companies in the IT field. The reality is that positions involving this type of management are present in many sectors, so as long as the company operates projects, there is room for a professional who can be responsible for them.
Here are some of the most promising areas for project managers:
- Building, Architecture, and Engineering;
- Marketing and Sales;
- Financial services;
- Software and information technology.
As we mentioned earlier, to enter or grow in a specific industry, project managers may need to develop specialized skills related to their chosen industry. For example, if a manager works in the technology sector, he will probably need a solid understanding of the software world to effectively manage a project in this field. So, when choosing a specialty, make sure you know the details.
Getting into a career in project management is no different than any other career, it takes real preparation, time, and effort. As you deepen your knowledge, it becomes important to specialize in a particular approach, obtain a certificate or post-graduate degree and, just as importantly, gain valuable and relevant experience. Although it seems challenging at first, it can be extremely rewarding as the entire global work model adapts and evolves into a project-driven business. With that in mind, we hope we’ve helped you better understand the best way to become a project manager. We wish you success in this new adventure.