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There is a heck of a lot of project management tools out there, so it can be hard to make the definitive choice about which one is best for your business.

But how important is the software itself? Does having experience of using project planning and scheduling software make somebody a project manager?

Undoubtedly, a good piece of software can make your life as a project manager a lot easier, but other business skills are needed too:

Time management – It seems an obvious quality to possess as a project manager, but you can’t just rely on software to organise your day. As a project manager, you need to be 100% on the ball – and you need to keep other people 100% on the ball. The difference is that others may get away with a slip-up. As the manager, you won’t.

People skills – Projects often have a close-knit group working on them. If something isn’t going right, tensions can hot up. You will sometimes come up against people that disagree with your strategy and resist wholeheartedly. This can be extremely challenging. You will need to keep your team motivated and encouraged, and be prepared to back up your strategy in the face of criticism. That said, also be pragmatic. If you can see that a member of your team has a genuine concern, evaluate their problem and see if you can alter to progress. Don’t blindly defend your strategy, remember that everybody can always learn and improve.

The numbers game – Your costing needs to be spot on. As a project manager, you need to have a good head for numbers. Ultimately, the people in charge want to see good value for money and a valuable ROI. If you suspect your project might be running over budget, confront the problem immediately – don’t hide and hope. Your reputation will be enhanced if you foresee these issues and deal with them effectively.

Risk analysis – This is almost automatic for experienced project managers, but it is important to maintain risk analysis throughout the project period. It is all very well outlining the potential risks at the beginning, but you need to evaluate how the developing project is throwing up new risks as it progresses.

Watch out for the tool’s vendors – Remember that your vendors are out to get the best deal. This must be part of your risk analysis from the beginning. Make sure you buy the right product and continue to evaluate it as you go along. If it isn’t working out, be tough with your vendors – remember their product could be what your project hinges on.

The software is important, but you need to remember that certain skills need to be mastered to work alongside. Stick to these basic principles and you’ll make the most of whichever tool you choose.

See our project management tool Chronos.

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