23 Essential Project Management Skills in 2023
Initiating, planning, and effectively executing a project from start to finish is not an easy job.
A survey by Gartner shows that 71% of all projects fail, with bigger projects having a higher likelihood of failure.
In most cases, project failure can be directly attributed to inadequacies on the part of the project manager. This is because successfully running a project requires very specific skills.
The good thing, however, is that it is possible for anyone to learn and develop these skills and become a better project manager.
If you’re looking to improve your project management skills, keep reading to learn 23 technical and soft skills that will make you a more effective project manager.
Project Manager Technical Skills
1. Planning And Forecasting
One of the reasons why projects fail is lack of proper planning. Starting a project without a plan is like embarking on a journey to a new destination without a roadmap to guide you to your destination.
As a project manager, you need to be highly skilled in project planning and forecasting. You have to be able to develop a roadmap that will guide your project to successful completion.
Project planning and forecasting involves getting a clear understanding of the scope of work that needs to be done, and then estimating the amount of time and resources required to deliver this work.
From there, you have to then come up with a step-by-step process map outlining how you intend to execute the project.
Some of the questions you need to answer as part of project planning and forecasting include…
- What is the outcome of the project? What product or service is the project supposed to deliver?
- How much will it cost to deliver the expected outcomes?
- How much time do we need to deliver the expected outcomes? How does this compare against the client’s expected timelines?
- What resources will be required to complete the project within the project timelines?
- How are we going to measure progress?
Project planning and forecasting lays the foundation for all the other skills you need to be an effective project manager. It is impossible to successfully deliver projects if you cannot successfully plan the project.
2. Task Management And Resource Management
Projects usually have one overarching goal. However, the overarching goal cannot be achieved in one fell swoop. Instead, it is usually the result of multiple smaller tasks with different goals that, when brought together, add up to the overall goal.
Let’s say, for instance, you’re managing a website development project. The overarching goal here is to deliver a fully functional website.
For this to be delivered, several tasks have to be completed – wireframing, UI/UX design, coding, content development, and so on.
As a project manager, you need the ability to take the overall project and break it down into manageable tasks and subtasks. You can think of this as developing a super to-do list that, when completed, will deliver the desired outcomes for the entire project.
In addition to breaking down the scope of work into tasks and subtasks, you also need to come up with a schedule for the implementation of these tasks, as well as a definition of any dependencies between the tasks.
If you’re constructing a building, for instance, you cannot start installing the windows until wall construction has been completed.
A good project manager also requires resource management skills. This involves determining the skills required to accomplish different tasks and subtasks, finding resources with these skills, and assigning the right tasks and subtasks to them.
Having excellent task management and resource management skills leads to increased productivity, lower likelihood of errors, and accelerated project delivery.
3. Process Management
Projects don’t happen in a vacuum. They often involve regular company processes that might not be directly involved in the project.
For instance, even if the procurement team is not directly involved in a project, you might still need their help to procure materials that are crucial to the project.
Similarly, you might need the help of the accounting department to create invoices, even if the accounting department is not directly involved in the project.
To be an effective project manager, you need the skills to map and control business processes that are required for the successful completion of a project.
Some of the business processes that a project manager might need to manage include…
- Reporting and evaluations
- Market research
- Account management
- Employee reviews
4. Project Initiation
Without proper initiation, there is a very high possibility that a project will drift off-course. It is very important, therefore, for a project manager to be well versed in project initiation.
Project initiation is the very first stage of a project, coming even before project planning. This is where the need for the project is identified, as well as the value to be gained from the project.
Project initiation involves the following key steps…
1) Creating A Business Case Or Project Charter
The project charter and business case are documents that are used to demonstrate why a project is necessary. A project charter is typically used in smaller projects, while a business case is used for bigger projects with significant resource requirements.
2) Stakeholder Identification And Pitching
After developing a project charter or business case, the project manager needs to then identify the key stakeholders and pitch the project idea to them.
The key stakeholders are people who need to sign off on your project before it can get started. These could be people who need to approve the project, those who’ll provide you with the necessary resources, or those who have an influence on the direction of the project.
3) Running A Feasibility Study
The aim of a project feasibility study is to confirm whether your project can be successfully implemented with the available resources, and whether the return on investment on the project makes it worth pursuing.
Note, however, that feasibility studies are not an absolute necessity for small projects without any long term impact.
4) Assembling A Project Team
The last step of project initiation is assembling the team that will execute the project. As a project manager, you should be able to define the core skills needed to execute the project, and assemble a project team that can provide these skills.
The final step is to review the project initiation phase and confirm that everything is in order before moving on to project planning.
5. Risk Management
Even with the best project plan, risks are inevitable when running a project. A key resource might be unavailable when you need them, or perhaps a client might delay giving an approval, thus affecting the project schedule.
In project management, a risk is any uncertain event or condition that could negatively or positively affect your project objectives. Risks can affect different elements of a project, including resources, processes, or even technology.
Every good project manager needs the experience and expertise to anticipate risks that could affect their project. The best way to do this is by carrying out a risk assessment.
A risk assessment looks at things like timelines, key resources, task dependencies, and decisions to help you identify potential risks.
It also helps you determine the probability of these risks occurring, when they are likely to occur, the factors that might trigger the risk, as well as the impact such risks will have on your project.
Once you’ve identified risks that could potentially affect your project, you also need to be able to come up with a risk management plan.
The risk mitigation plan outlines how you intend to deal with the risk should it occur, who will be responsible for it, as well as the cost of the mitigation strategy.
Risk identification and mitigation planning can be done using a simple spreadsheet, or using a dedicated risk management tool.
Every project has financial constraints within which it needs to be completed. A lot of times, however, projects end up overrunning their budgets, often leading to delayed delivery or complete project failure.
For instance, the Big Dig Project in Boston started with an initial cost of $2.8 billion, but ended up costing a total of $14.6 billion, and was completed 9 years behind schedule.
Such situations are caused by two major factors – inaccurate estimations during the budget phase, or poor financial management that makes it impossible to stick to the budget.
Completion within budget is one of the measures of a successful project, and therefore, as a project manager, you need to have the financial management and budgeting skills required to come up with a viable budget for your project, and control the budget throughout the project lifecycle to prevent overruns.
When developing a budget for your project, it is important to be very realistic about the resources and timelines that will be required to complete the project, as well as the cost of all requirements.
Underestimating project costs will result in a small budget that cannot realistically complete the project, while overestimating costs will result in an inflated budget that you might have a difficult time getting approved.
However, it’s a good idea to set aside some contingency funds in your project budget to cover the cost of unexpected costs and expenses. Typically, a contingency fund should be about 10% of the total project budget.
A project manager also needs to be able to track and monitor expenses as the project progresses. This allows you to catch excessive costs quickly and make adjustments to keep the project within budget.
That said, it’s good to keep in mind that the project budget is a live document, and sometimes, it might be necessary to make revisions as the project progresses.
7. Project Tracking And Monitoring
A project is considered to have been successfully completed when all project objectives are achieved on time, and within budget. For this to happen, it is very important to constantly track and monitor the progress of the project.
Without tracking and monitoring, you cannot tell whether a project is on course to deliver what has been specified, and whether it will do so within the specified deadline and allocated budget.
It also becomes impossible to tell when the project is going off-course and take corrective action.
Some of the project metrics you should track and monitor include…
- Overall RAG status: This is a visual metric that tells you whether the project is progressing smoothly, whether there is risk of the project going off the track, or whether the project is already off-course and needs immediate attention.
- Budget: Comparing the planned budget to the actual budget gives you an idea of whether you’ll be able to complete the project within budget, or whether it is running beyond budget.
- Milestones: Milestones allow you to track project completion against scheduled timelines. They tell you whether the project is on target, or if it is under threat.
8. Project Management Methodologies
There are several project management methodologies and approaches that are used to coordinate and implement projects.
To be an effective project manager, you need a good understanding of these project management methodologies and their application. This will allow you to effectively determine which methodology is best suited for different projects and different project teams.
When choosing the most appropriate methodology for a specific project, you should look at things like the project cost and budget, the size of the project team, project flexibility, ability to take risks, project timelines, and stakeholder collaboration.
Some of the most common project management methodologies every project manager should be conversant with include…
- Waterfall: This is a structured, traditional project management approach where project tasks and phases are completed sequentially. One task or phase has to be completed for the next one to begin.
- Agile: This is a modern project management approach that gives project managers the flexibility to make adaptations as a project progresses. The agile framework involves lots of testing and iterations throughout the project lifecycle.
- Scrum: With this project management methodology, project work is broken down into short cycles known as sprints, which have definite deliverables. Reviews are done after a sprint and any necessary changes made before moving to the next sprint. You can make Scrum even more effective using scrum tools.
- Kanban: This is a modern project management methodology that puts a lot of focus on visualization. Kanban project management tools use visual boards to give an overview of current work status at any given time.
- Lean: Pioneered by Toyota, the Lean project management methodology focuses on minimizing waste while maximizing customer value. It’s all about using fewer resources to create more value for customers.
- Six Sigma: Introduced by Motorola, Six Sigma focuses on error reduction by identifying steps that are not working within a process and getting rid of them.
9. Meeting Facilitation
Projects usually involve a lot of meetings – kickoff meetings, planning meetings, walk-through meetings, status update meetings, problem solving meetings, milestone meetings, debrief meetings, you name it.
Most of these meetings are led by the project manager. This means that being skilled at facilitating meetings is a core component of what makes an effective project manager.
Meeting facilitation is the ability to guide meetings in a structured manner and help the people in the meeting hone in on the problem and come up with a common and effective solution to the problem.
As a meeting facilitator, some of the things you can do to ensure the success of the meeting include…
- Determine necessity: A lot of time is wasted on unnecessary project meetings. As a facilitator, it is up to you to determine whether a meeting is really needed. Meetings should only be held when the objective cannot be practically achieved in any other way.
- Establish an agenda: Before inviting people for a meeting, create an agenda and share it with the participants before the meeting. This ensures that everyone knows the reason behind the meeting and gives them ample time to prepare for the meeting.
- Set adequate time: Always ensure that the time allocated to the meeting is enough for the meeting to achieve its goals.
- Control the discussion flow: It’s your responsibility as the meeting facilitator to keep the meeting on topic. Don’t allow people to introduce topics that are not relevant to the meeting agenda.
- Create a safe environment: The meeting facilitator is also responsible for creating an environment of psychological safety that makes it comfortable for everyone to share their views and gives everyone an opportunity to get heard.
10. Subject Matter Expertise
Project managers usually work across multiple industries, and it is very unlikely that you will be a subject matter expert in all these industries. Still, it is a good idea to have more than basic knowledge about an industry within which you’re managing a project.
For instance, if you are managing a construction project, you need some above average knowledge about the construction industry. Similarly, if you’re managing a software development project, it’s good to have some basic development skills.
Being knowledgeable in the type of work your project team is doing has several advantages. First, it is easier for you to accurately estimate resource requirements, timelines, and costs when you have a good idea of the kind of work involved.
It is also easier for you to tell what tasks can be done in parallel and which need to be done sequentially, and how this will affect the project schedule.
In addition, being a subject matter expert makes it easier for you to understand the problems and issues affecting the project. You’ll also be in a better position to break down these issues into layman’s language for non-technical stakeholders and respond to their questions.
11. Quality Management
The project manager is responsible for ensuring that the completed project will achieve its purpose and satisfy the needs for which it was implemented.
For this to happen, the project manager has to ensure that all project activities are both effective and efficient with respect to the project objectives. This is what is known as quality management.
Let’s say, for instance, you are managing a project to construct a railway bridge. The deliverable is a bridge that can bear the weight of a loaded train.
For this to happen, the project manager has to make sure that all aspects of the project – including the design, materials used, and construction methods – meet the desired quality for a bridge that will bear the weight of a train.
It’s good to note that quality management is not an independent activity that occurs once a project is complete to measure the quality of the deliverable. Instead, quality management is an on-going process that takes place from project initiation to completion.
As the project manager, you should be able to constantly evaluate everything happening within the project and make sure that it is aligned with stakeholder needs and expectations, and the stated objectives of the project.
12. Project Management Software
Managing a project involves a lot of activities and tasks – creating and assigning project tasks, resource allocation and management, communicating with stakeholders, tracking and monitoring project progress, reporting, and a ton of other activities.
When working on large projects or managing multiple projects, it is impossible to handle all these tasks manually. This is where project management software comes in.
Project management software helps you automate and streamline the activities involved in project management, leading to increased efficiency and productivity.
While there are hundreds of project management tools in the market, a good project manager should know how to use some of the most commonly used PM software and tools.
Below are 10 of the best project management software every project manager needs to be conversant with…
- Monday.com: Best for visualizing project activities and tasks
- Wrike: Best for managing complex projects using agile methodologies
- ClickUp: Best collaborative project management tool offering a fully functional free plan
- Teamwork Projects: Best for those looking for enterprise-level features at an affordable price
- Scoro: All-in-one project management tool for boosting team productivity
- GanttPro: Best Gantt chart based solution for managing and planning projects
- ProofHub: Smart, fast, and user-friendly project management solution
- Backlog: Best project management tool for software development teams
- HubStaff Tasks: Best platform for smooth team collaboration and agile project management
- Hygger: Best Kanban based project management tool for software developers
A lot of data is generated during the course of a project. As a project manager, you should be able to gather this data, analyze it, and then package it into a report that provides a high level overview of what is happening with the project and what can be done about it.
Without project reports, the project team and stakeholders don’t have a good idea of what is going on with the project, which increases the risk of something going wrong.
With good reports, however, any unwanted deviations can quickly be identified and rectified before they become threat’s to the project’s success.
Proper project reporting provides the following benefits…
- Tracking: Reporting helps you and stakeholders track project progress, schedule, tasks, and budget against the initial plan. This tells you whether the project is going as expected, or if some adjustments are required.
- Risk identification: With the right reports, potential risks can be spotted early and action taken before they affect the project.
- Control: With good reporting, you are always in control of your project. You can tell how the project is progressing, if there are tasks that have stagnated, how your team is performing, and so on.
- Learning: Reports provide you with insights that can make you a better project manager and inform your decision making in future projects.
Project Manager Soft Skills
A project manager is in charge of the overall success of the project. Therefore, you need the leadership qualities and skills to see the big picture of the project, sell the vision of the project to your team and inspire them to commit around this vision. You are also responsible for getting buy-in from executives and other key stakeholders.
As the project leader, you’re also in charge of developing a roadmap that will guide the project to successful completion, and assigning and coordinating project tasks to your team members based on their abilities and core competencies.
You need to be able to motivate your team and create an environment that allows your team to successfully exchange ideas and give their best towards the successful delivery of the project, while at the same time enforcing processes and keeping all your team members in line.
Your role as the project leader also means that you are responsible for equipping your project team with the tools, time, and other resources they need to complete their tasks, and for making the right decisions that ensure the success of the project, even when these decisions make you unpopular.
Finally, as the project leader, you should also be ready to take responsibility for the team’s successes as well as its failures.
Communication plays a huge role in project management – you have to communicate with and get buy-in from executives and other stakeholders, explain the project vision and what exactly needs to be done to your team, give regular updates to stakeholders, and so on.
This means that it is impossible to succeed as a project manager without proper communication skills.
Being an effective communicator in project management starts with conducting a communications requirements analysis.
Generally, projects involve a lot of data and information. Communicating all this information to your stakeholders can make them feel overwhelmed. A communications requirements analysis helps you to determine what is valuable to your stakeholders so that you can only furnish them with the relevant information they need to make decisions.
Being a good communicator also means being willing to ask questions. This will give you a better understanding of what is expected from the project, which in turn increases the likelihood of completing the project successfully.
As a good communicator, you should not shy away from giving feedback. If you feel that your team is not doing the right thing, don’t be afraid to let them know. Similarly, if you feel that stakeholders have unrealistic expectations, let them know.
Effective communication also involves choosing the right communications tool for your project. Having multiple communication channels, such as email, phone, and chat increases the likelihood of something getting overlooked, or someone being left out of the loop.
To avoid this, effective project managers choose to have a central place for all important communication relating to the project. This makes it easier to keep everyone updated and understand the context behind each piece of communication.
3. Collaboration And Teamwork
Executing a project from start to finish usually involves a team of professionals. For these people to work together smoothly and achieve the project objectives, the project manager needs to be highly skilled in fostering teamwork and collaboration.
In addition to improving productivity and efficiency, teamwork and collaboration leads to happier teams, increased capacity for creativity and innovation, higher tolerance for worthwhile risks, and personal growth for your team members.
To foster teamwork and collaboration, you need to understand that your team is composed of people from diverse backgrounds, and with diverse beliefs, personalities, communication styles, and so on.
As a good project manager, you should be able to accommodate each team member’s differences, while at the same time keeping them committed to a common goal and vision.
Another way to promote teamwork and collaboration within projects is to properly assign tasks. When team members don’t know who is responsible for what, this creates potential for role conflict due to delayed work, conflicting decisions, or some team members being overburdened.
When everyone clearly understands their roles and responsibilities, however, each team member can now focus on doing their fair share of work and will be accountable for their assigned tasks.
4. Time Management
Every project is bound by time constraints, which means that all project tasks have to be completed within the scheduled time.
Project managers need excellent time management skills to develop a schedule and timeline for the project and ensure that this timeline is maintained throughout the project lifecycle.
Proper time management allows the project to achieve its goals while staying on budget and leads to increased productivity, fewer mistakes, improved proficiency, and less stress for you and your team members.
Here are some time management tips that wil help you keep your project within schedule include…
- Plan ahead: A lot of time gets wasted when people don’t know what they need to be working on. To avoid this, plan ahead and make sure your team members have a clear idea of the tasks they are expected to handle before the start of each day.
- Focus on one task at a time: Multitasking is a great time waster. Instead of working on multiple tasks simultaneously, you should encourage your team members to handle one task at a time and complete it before switching to another. This leads to faster task completion.
- Set clear priorities: Setting priorities allows you to dedicate time to the most important tasks. If you’re working on a construction project, for instance, you should dedicate more time to laying the foundation compared to painting the interior.
- Minimize meetings: One of the biggest time wasters in projects is unnecessary meetings, when this time would have been better spent doing actual work that moves the project ahead. For instance, rather than calling a meeting to give a status update, you can save time by sharing the status update via email.
5. Organization Skills
Projects usually involve multiple tasks and subtasks, multiple objectives, multiple workflows, multiple files and documents, multiple deadlines, and so on.
To ensure that nothing slips through the cracks, a project manager needs to be highly skilled at keeping things organized. This is even more important when managing multiple projects simultaneously.
Organization is the ability to effectively plan your time and your workload, as well as that of your team, in order to efficiently accomplish your goals. Lack of proper organization skills affects your ability to get things done and often leaves your team feeling stressed, demotivated, and demoralized.
Some of the things you can do to keep yourself organized as a project manager include…
- Set priorities: Create a to-do list of all tasks that your team needs to work on, and define priorities for these tasks so that your team members know what they need to focus on first.
- Use milestones and deadlines: Don’t just have a deadline for the entire project. Instead, break up the project into milestones, and set up deadlines for these milestones. This makes it easier for you to track how the project is progressing and keep the overall project within schedule.
- Use project management software: Using simple project management software makes it easier for you to keep track of everything happening within the project, without the risk of something important getting forgotten.
6. Problem Solving And Critical Thinking
Even with the best project plan and the best team, it is inevitable that projects will face unexpected challenges and problems.
Some of your project assumptions could end up being wrong. Some project resources could become unavailable. The project might get affected by scope creep. There might be a fallout among key stakeholders.
As a project manager, you need to be a skilled problem solver who can navigate such unexpected hurdles and roadblocks and keep the project running smoothly. You need to be able to gather information related to the problem at hand and come up with a structured solution that ensures the success of the project.
Problem solving skills go hand in hand with critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is the ability to objectively analyze and evaluate mismatched ideas and conflicting data and come up with a reasonable judgement. It’s about combing through available information and making your own decision on what is best in the situation.
Critical thinking involves 7 key steps:
- Analysis: What information do I have about this situation?
- Interpretation: What suggestions does the available information make?
- Inference: What conclusions can I draw from the information?
- Explanation: How best can I express the above conclusions?
- Self-regulation: Is there a chance I might be wrong about something?
- Open-mindedness: Are there other possibilities I might have missed?
- Problem-solving: What is the best course of action based on the above conclusions?
In the military, there’s a common saying that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The same applies in project management.
Once a project is underway, it is very unlikely that everything will go according to plan. In most cases, this is caused by factors outside your control. When this happens, the success of the project becomes dependent on your ability to adapt.
Great project managers aren’t afraid to make changes and adjustments to their initial plan in order to keep the project moving.
The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to being flexible in the face of unexpected changes to your project plan is to not lose sight of the project’s objectives.
Think of it this way; if you’re on a journey and find that the main route to your destination is closed, you shouldn’t change your destination. What you should do instead, is find an alternative route to take you to your destination.
8. Negotiation And Conflict Resolution
Projects typically involve multiple parties – project sponsors and clients, the project team, company executives, suppliers, and other stakeholders, each with varying interests.
For instance, a client might want a project to be delivered in one month, while the project team claims that it would be impossible to deliver the project in such a short time.
To get all these parties on the same page and ensure each party is satisfied, a project manager needs excellent negotiation and diplomacy skills.
A good project manager should be able to tactfully handle the differences between all parties involved in the project and find compromises that make everyone feel they are getting what they want.
The manager should also be able to push back and hold their position where necessary, without damaging the relationships between the different parties.
With different parties and different interests involved, it is also likely that conflicts will sometimes arise between them. A project manager should be able to keep people’s tempers in check and resolve such conflicts to keep the team working on the project without any blow-outs.
9. Coaching And Team Development
Your role as a project manager does not stop at being a leader. You should also play the role of a coach to help your team develop and grow in their careers.
Your responsibility as a coach involves developing and assessing your team members’ skills, counseling and mentoring them, as well as correcting their behavior to increase their ability to meet strategic organizational objectives.
Some of the areas in which you can coach and develop your team include strategic thinking, interpersonal skills, communication skills, leadership skills, management skills, adaptability, and conflict management.
Coaching and developing your team provides several advantages. First, it turns average team members into high performers, thereby increasing the overall productivity of the team.
As you coach and develop your team members, they are also more likely to take up more tasks and responsibilities from you. This lessens your workload and frees up your time, allowing you to put more focus on high level and strategic project activities.
10. Active Listening
Active listening refers to an involved form of listening where you give the speaker your full attention and fully concentrate on what they are saying. The aim of active listening is to fully hear and understand the other person’s message.
Active listening is very important for project managers. It helps you understand the expectations and perspectives of other project stakeholders, allows you to connect with your team members on a deeper level, and helps you build meaningful relationships with everyone involved in the project.
Below are a couple of strategies you can apply to become a more active listener…
- Don’t interrupt: When another person is speaking, don’t interrupt them, and even more importantly, don’t start thinking about your reply. Wait until they are finished speaking, since what they are about to say next could change the meaning of what they have already said.
- Paraphrase what has been said: To make sure you clearly understand what the other person is saying, repeat it to them in your own words. This provides them with an opportunity to clarify in case something has not been properly understood.
- Watch their non-verbal cues: People use more than words to communicate. Watching the other person’s facial expressions, gestures, body posture, and tone of voice can help you pick up on hidden meanings that are not contained in their words.
- Stop your internal dialogue: When the other person is speaking, avoid daydreaming, judging what they are saying, or anything else that could act as a distraction. All your attention should be on what the other person is saying.
- Ask questions: Asking questions shows you interest, and at the same time allows the other person to clarify anything you might not have understood.
How To Develop Project Management Skills
Despite the wide range of skills required to become an effective project manager, the good thing is that you don’t have to be born with these skills. With the right approach, anyone can learn and develop these skills.
Some of the things you can do to develop project management skills include…
- Follow project management experts: There are lots of successful project managers on the internet producing highly informative project management content. Follow these experts on social media, read their blogs, listen to their podcasts, subscribe to their YouTube channels, and so on. Regularly consuming such content will gradually improve your own project management skills.
- Take online courses: There are hundreds of project management courses and certifications on the internet. Find one that focuses on the particular skills you want to develop and enroll.
- Join a PM organization: Joining organizations like the Association for Project Managers, the International Project Management Association (IPMA), or the Project Management Institute (PMI) will give you access to tons of tools and resources that will help you develop your skills, while also giving you an opportunity to network with other project managers that you can learn from.
- Get familiar with project management tools: Project management software has become a must-have for most projects. Simply having some expertise with some of the most popular PM tools can make you a better project manager.
- Study project management methodologies: Take some time to study different project methodologies and the best use-case for each methodology. This way, when you have a project, you’ll be able to easily determine the most suitable methodology for that particular project.
- Shadow experienced project managers: If you have some experienced project managers in your network, you can request to be allowed to shadow them as they work on a project. Seeing what they do on a day-to-day basis and how they handle various aspects of project management will help you develop your own project management skills.