Project Management Competencies

Project Management Competencies

PMI Talent Triangle®


Project Management Competencies

Project Management Competencies Development Framework of PMI® defines three types of competencies for project managers. These competencies are represented by triangle called PMI Talent Triangle® as shown in the figure

The talent triangle focuses on three main project manager competencies

  1. Technical Project Management
  2. Leadership
  3. Strategic and Business Management

Technical project management defines processes and procedures. PMBOK® Guide mainly defines technical project management competencies.

However technical project management skills are not sufficient to lead a project to success. As I compared a project manager with necklace designer in an earlier post (Who is Project Manager?), project manager’s vision, creativity, art of collaborating with stakeholder and his/her understanding of business value of project are more important for project success.

  1. Technical Project Management

Knowledge Areas described in PMBOK® Guide fall into this project management competency. Competency in understanding and implementing processes defined in these knowledge areas is technical project management competency. Knowledge of using Microsoft Project to schedule, track and report projects is also a technical competency.

  1. Leadership

Leadership skill is the ability of project managers to motivate & guide the team and building relationship with stakeholder to support the project. It includes creating a vision, communication, problem solving, resolving conflicts, critical thinking, interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, guiding team, constructive criticism, art of appreciation, assertiveness etc.

  1. Strategic and Business Management

Strategic and business management skill is the ability of project manager to understand benefits of project outcome and relating them to the goals of organization and customer’s organization. It involves creating project strategy, defining goals and objectives, defining tangible and non-tangible business benefits of the project, cost benefits analysis, return on investment etc. Business management skills also includes connecting organization’s strategy with project objectives, identifying and communicating tangible and non tangible business benefits of project to stakeholders and relating project work with other functions of the organization.

These three project management competencies are essential for a project manager to succeed. In general organizations give more emphasis on technical competencies however leadership and strategic skills have more impact and play a major role in success.


Also refer

  1. What is Project Management?
  2. Who is Project Manager?


PMI, PMBOK and PMP are registered mark of Project Management Institute Inc. 

Who is Project Manager?

Who is Project Manager

Who is Project Manager

Who is project manager

Who is project manager? What is his role? What are his primary responsibilities? These are few questions we must answer before move into project manager’s role. In an earlier section “What is Project Management“, I compared a project with a necklace. Functions, team members, stakeholders and technical activities are pearls and project management processes are its thread. Now who is project manager? In this context, project manager is a necklace designer. This is where the art come into picture to give a nice shape to the science. Best pearls and thread are not enough for a necklace to look beautiful. It is the necklace designer’s vision, creativity, hard work and experience that make the necklace looks beautiful. Similarly it is the project manger’s vision, creativity, its decision making skills, its skills of forming cohesive team, its art of engaging stakeholder, its experience in integrating by placing every pearl at an strategic position make project to deliver wonderful results. This art cannot be taught completely in a classroom. Besides classroom we learn it by doing it under an experience artist i.e. an experience project management professional or a guide or a consultant.

Project manager’s primary responsibility is to integrate various aspects of project, technical activities, team and stakeholders. Project manager’s failure to integrate them lead to project failure. A bad project manager can lead a project to failure despite excellent technical resources on board due to his inability to integrate. On the other side, a good project manager can achieve excellent results with average technical resources.

A project manager should have minimum 3 types of competencies – Project Manager Technical Skills, Leadership skills and Strategic Business Management skills to pay his role effectively. We will discuss about these skills in next section.

Balancing the triple constraints triangle

Managing Triple Constraints Triangle using MS Project

Managing Triple Constraints Triangle using MS Project

Balancing the triple constraints triangle

For balancing triple constraints triangle, let’s look back to the Project Manager Knowledge Areas section above where we discussed various aspects of project management that a project manager has to deal with all the time. We saw scope, time, cost and resources were painted in green indicating that these four areas can be managed in Microsoft Project. These four areas are most important in project management because any problem in any other area impacts either scope, time, cost or resources. This makes triple constraints triangle as shown in the figure very important. A PMP® Aspirant should also understand this concepts in depth.

It is very important for a project manager to balance the triangle i.e. create a balance among scope, time and cost to deliver a quality product. Quality in the middle is an indication that it is not negotiable while scope, time and cost on sides indicate that we need to negotiate them to balance the triangle.

Various situations in a project arising time to time like a risk getting materialized, vendor delaying a deliverables or a change request may have impact on cost, time or scope. In such situations we need to analyze the impact and negotiate other sides to balance the triangle so that we can deliver the product or service as promised.

A scheduler such as Microsoft Project come very handy in keeping the triangle in shape. It is an excellent platform to analyze impact and negotiate other sides. In MS Project, we can define complete scope as Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), enter all our estimates for each WBS item, assign all our resources and manage dependencies among activities. This way we get control on the scope, timelines and cost.

We get the real benefit when we track the project. If we add some scope, it helps us to workout additional time & cost required. If any activity get delayed, it will show us the impact on all dependent tasks & on end date and give us a platform to take corrective actions in terms of adding resources (cost) or reducing scope to finish in time. If we have a constraint on cost side, it will help to us tuning time or scope to manage within budget. Basically it helps us to measure variance, identify cause of the variance, work out the right corrective actions and also track if corrective actions are really effective.

Suppose our customer sends a change request that adds an additional deliverable in the scope. Until we analyze the impact and balance it by adding more resources (cost) or adding some time or both, we may not be able to deliver a quality product. Microsoft project gives us a platform to add the additional work in the scope and see if we can manage it with existing resource by adding time or we need to add resources because adding time is not acceptable to the customer.

What are Program and Portfolio Management?

Program and Portfolio Management

Program and Portfolio Management as explained in PMBOK® Guide

Program and Portfolio Management

Program and portfolio both are group of projects however their objective of grouping is different. Program and portfolio management address the grouping of the projects in an organization for specific objectives. Let’s understand what program management and portfolio management are?

Program Management

A program is defined as a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside the scope of the discrete projects in the program. A project may or may not be part of a program but a program will always have projects.

For examples projects for a single client or projects using same technology can be grouped together to form a program and manage them more effectively.

Portfolio Management

A portfolio is defined as a group of related projects formed to achieve a strategic business objective. The projects or programs of the portfolio may not necessarily be interdependent or directly related.

An organizations looking to break into Telecom sector may group all the projects for telecom clients together in one portfolio. Multiple projects for specific client or specific technology may be grouped together as different programs under this portfolio. In a typical organization portfolios can be mapped to lines of business.

In general portfolio, program and projects are connected as displayed in the Figure.

Projects are normally authorized as a result of one or more of the following and linked with portfolio and program through organizational strategies and priorities.

  • Market Demand,
  • Strategic Opportunity,
  • Business Need,
  • Customer Request,
  • Technology Advancement,
  • Legal Requirements etc.

They are grouped together for synergy as it is more effective to manage them together than managing them individually and then they are grouped together to achieve organizational objectives.



PMI, PMBOK and PMP are registered mark of Project Management Institute Inc. 

Project Management Knowledge Areas

Project Management Knowledge Areas

Project Management Knowledge Areas as explained in PMBOK® Guide (A standard by PMI®)

Project Management Knowledge Areas

A project manager has to manage multiple aspects of the project continuously throughout the project life-cycle from initiation to closure. These aspects such as scope of the project, given time frame, project cost, risk, quality, communication, procurement and human resources are termed as project management knowledge areas in PMBOK® Guide.

Integration Management is the primary work, a project manager should do all the time without delegating to any one which ensures that activities in different knowledge areas are progressing in a synchronous manner. Scope, Time and Cost often called Triple Constraints are the core knowledge areas. These areas in general get impacted if you have issues in any area.

In MS Project Context, four knowledge areas (scope, cost, time and resources) in the above figure 1.2 are shown in green which indicate that these aspects of project can be managed with Microsoft Project 2016. That means you can define complete scope of the project in terms of WBS in Project 2016, can take care of complete cost including fixed and variable, all the resources can be managed and ensure the timeline which is the primary objective of any scheduling tools like Project 2016.

You can manage knowledge areas that are shown in yellow i.e. stakeholder, communication, quality, procurement and risk up to certain extend in MS Project 2016 and you need to define and control work outside project 2016 also to manage them fully. That means Project 2016 helps in managing stakeholders, communication, quality, procurement and risk on a project. For example in communication management, MS Project will provide you progress data, status, reports etc. but what, when and to whom to send the information is beyond MS Project. Similarly Project 2016 helps you identifying risks associated with scope, time, cost, resources, inter-dependencies etc. Similarly there will be many other areas where MS Project may not be of help.



PMI, PMBOK and PMP are registered mark of Project Management Institute Inc.