According to the Project Management Institute, fewer than 1 in 20 workers have the proper training needed to complete whatever project they're working on at any given time. Even with the demand for project-oriented employees expected to grow by 8.2 million by 2016, most organizations are relying on cobbling together the best teams they can assemble from their talent pool [source: PMI]. However, this can create unnecessary stress on organizations and overtax employees who are forced to wear multiple hats throughout the course of a project.
Effective project management is an asset that will benefit any organization in any industry, whether it's a marketing firm planning a product release for a client or a major corporation working with foreign governments to develop or improve large-scale infrastructure projects [source: Visicacion].
The fact is, every project needs a manager who can do three things well [source: Boston University]. First, a project manager has to be a subject-matter expert. Project managers need to know the ins and outs of every detail (from start to finish) and be armed with answers to the questions that pop up along the way. They should be well-versed in the business pressures being brought to bear on a project and be familiar with how the project is addressing the business needs of the organization.
Second, the project manager needs to have a firm grasp on the process. Leading a team, big or small, through a job that might last months or years takes on a life if its own. Being able to negotiate long-term plans and execute on deliverables along the way is the bread and butter of project management.
Finally, the project lead must be an effective people manager. Getting employees with various backgrounds, skill sets and career objectives moving in the same direction can be a difficult task. And when the plan begins to break down, the project manager must quickly right the ship. This takes a combination of business acumen and communication skills that can be difficult to balance. There's a saying that people don't leave jobs, they leave managers. So the more effective a project manager, the happier the team will be.
Project management is a highly visible position, with everyone from supervisors to stockholders watching for the slightest indication of success or failure. This is why it's also one of the areas in which companies are willing to invest heavily. One of the most ubiquitous project management platforms is Six Sigma, the business management strategy originally developed by Motorola in the 1980s. This methodology is used extensively in the manufacturing sector and seeks to minimize inefficiencies by removing as many variables as possible during the course of a project [source: Ostasiewski].
Six Sigma has become an extremely popular way for companies to improve output, and its success is one of the reasons they're willing to send their employees to become certified. In fact, many organizations have adapted their own Six Sigma standards in-house and commit significant capital investment -- as well as allotting employee work hours
In the next section, we'll discuss communication-skills training.