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Project management: the essential skill set

A set of values (or a lack thereof) is what makes or breaks a company culture. How does a project manager fit into this?

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The good, the bad, and the ugly

Although an essential part of every tech team, the project manager is perhaps one of the team’s more controversial roles (especially if you ask developers for an opinion!). This, however, is not without a reason - a typical project management role encompasses a complex and wide array of skills necessary to guarantee the success of both the manager and the team as a whole. So, it is no surprise that sometimes things go south if the manager is miscast in this very crucial role: the pressure is high, the expectations even more so, and the consequences can be grave. Sounds a bit scary, but it doesn’t have to be! With the right combination of both technical expertise and interpersonal skills, the right PM will make their team thrive in their output, all the while promoting synergy and healthy collaborative growth.

This being said, project managers come in all shapes and sizes, and obviously, there is no magic formula that can guarantee that someone will manage a team successfully (no matter their certifications or praises from past employers). However, there are certainly desirable traits to focus on that can help with building a successful career in project management and keeping the team and (indispensably) the clients happy at the same time. We wrote this article with the goal of outlining the profile of the ideal PM who could fit seamlessly into a team such as ours.

So - let’s explore together what we consider to be the skill set of a project manager who is both beloved and gets the wheels turning.


This one comes as no surprise, yet it seems to often be the stumbling block for both aspiring and seasoned project managers alike. Most employers will stress how important communication is when considering future employees, but this rings particularly true for management roles - it is difficult to convey just how important effective communication is for a project manager, especially considering the many layers it carries in this particular context.

Not only does a PM need to be able to understand people from different backgrounds, but they also need to make sure they are understood just as well. This includes every single member of the team working on the project and very often the clients as well (for teams operating without a designated product owner), which basically makes the manager take on the responsibility for the project as a whole, emphasizing their impact on both the team and the stakeholders.

Speaking practically, what are the core components of excellent communication? Well, to communicate something well, you need to go a step back and start with listening - this applies both to the relationship with your client and your colleagues. Getting to know the people you work with will help with setting the team up for success, and this means that you may have to adapt your communication strategies and tools from project to project. This has been especially relevant recently, in an ever-more-hybrid world where mostly remote teams are becoming a standard and an expectation.

Once you have mastered being an avid and active listener, you can focus on your own messaging being clear, timely and straightforward. No need to beat around the bush - your team and your clients will appreciate it. Of course, this is where common sense comes into play: tactfulness and consideration for others should be a priority so as not to offend or alarm people, and mastering to walk this thin line is how great project managers are born. Knowing how to create a pleasant atmosphere will push the people to collaborate and help one another, which in turn will help create a result that is a unique and combined effort.


Although it could technically fall under ‘communication’, we thought leadership was important enough to stand on its own on this list. Sure, being a good leader means making your teammates feel good about the work they are doing by sharing your vision and motivating them, but it also means stepping in and taking responsibility. This means being the person standing behind the success or the failure of the project, the one that both praises and criticisms will be directed at most of the time.

A great leader is somewhat of a diplomat - a person who knows how to navigate and negotiate in tricky situations, all the while keeping all parties involved satisfied. Sounds a bit like walking on eggshells? Well, it’s more like riding a unicycle on eggshells and balancing a basketball on the top of your head at the same time… And sometimes there’s an earthquake going on, just to keep you on your toes! We’re not sure how good this metaphor is at conveying the kind of leadership skills necessary for a PM, but let’s just say they need to be pretty well-developed. Keeping the clients happy and maintaining a line that protects the company's interests and making sure that the gears are running in the background is quite a task.

Some leaders are born, but luckily, some are made, so don’t worry - riding that unicycle gets easier with time.

Technical skills

By the very nature of this particular position, a project manager needs to be a bit of a jack of all trades - for a PM in tech, having at least some background software development is sure to give you a bit of a head start when it comes to managing development teams.  

However, even though being familiar with the matter at hand is important, some other hard skills are equally as crucial, if not even more so. So many different components need to be taken into consideration before even starting the process, so it is indispensable for a PM to be a meticulous, skilled planner; this includes risk assessment on various levels, forecasting and budgeting at the very least. Once the project has kicked off, the technical tasks will keep piling on: the PM should monitor, track and document all activities, all the while keeping the rest of the team updated by holding and leading plenty of meetings. Which brings us to the next topic - one most project management discussions nowadays cannot do without.

Agile methodologies

Agile has without a doubt become the most popular approach to project management, proven by the fact that the term has reached a wide audience, far broader than the community actively involved with managing projects. Particularly loved by software professionals worldwide, this methodology can be applied to various project types, but it is particularly well-suited for software development as it assumes a high level of adaptability throughout the entire project cycle.

So what is it that makes Agile so well-liked and, therefore, Agile project managers indispensable to modern companies? Agile methodology is based on principles that emphasize some unconventional values instead of the more traditional and well-established rules of business - it focuses on individuals and interactions (rather than processes and tools), working software (over comprehensive documentation), customer collaboration (over contract negotiation) and responding to change (instead of following a plan). Not only does the methodology allow for faster delivery, lower project risks and constant innovation, it also takes a lot of pressure off the project manager by allowing them to get constant feedback from both the client and the internal team. No wonder most teams prefer Agile over other, less flexible approaches - less pressure for the PM means the same for developers, but, just as importantly, they get to have their opinions heard and evaluated during the entirety of the software development cycle.

Speaking frankly

Of all the soft and technical skills in the world, most of them can be learned if you are persistent and hard-working enough. However, there are valuable (if less-tangible) qualities that you should bring to the table all by yourself in order to truly stand out in any role - things that can set an average (or even a good) PM apart from an incredible one.

There are a few traits that we appreciate having on our team, and each of them has proven itself to be crucial for building a tight-knit community of like-minded people. Each company has values that help run the workplace - this set of values (or even a lack thereof) is what makes or breaks a company culture and, when prioritized correctly, can make work feel like a place you want to come into, rather than a place that you have to come into.

What exactly are those values for us?

Drive - being able to motivate yourself and others; relying on your own internal forces both personally and professionally will make people want to work with you time and time again.

Vision - you don’t need to be a one-in-a-million entrepreneur, but expressing and exchanging ideas helps both individual and collective growth.

Sense of humor - finally (and this one we really can’t do without), don’t be afraid to unwind! While work is no laughing matter, we still appreciate being able to joke around one another at all times, even when things get a bit stressful around a deadline.

As we have already said, while there is no one-size-fits-all personality for any role, this is about as close to perfect as we could have thought of when imagining our ideal project manager - what about yours? Do they overlap?

We currently have an opening for a project manager to join us!
Head over to the Careers page to apply.