Compare and Contrast the Skills Needed for General and Project Management

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  • Topic: Project management, Management, Leadership
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  • Published : March 14, 2013
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It has been said that project management is different, but akin, to more general (i.e. on-going management) Compare and contrast the skills needed for general and project management

The economic development, competition and the need for planning and coordination of large and complex projects have forced innovation in management theories and techniques. This need has created a space for a new position in the organogram of traditional organizations. This new post is for managing unique tasks of projects which are not similar to business-as-usual. A project defined as “a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result” (PMBOK Guide, 2008, p.5). This means that the project must be completed within limited period of time to produce a unique result. Thus the project management can be defined as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities in order to meet project requirements” (PMBOK Guide, 2008, p.6). Thus project management is an unusual management technique created to manage projects. There is a great deal of confusion about the similarities and differences between general management and project management. While there is a clear overlap in the needed skills between general management and project management. Also, there are some distinctive skills that require attention to manage the unique nature of projects. Therefore this essay will argue the fact that project management differs from general management and there are some management skills that project managers must apply in special ways that distinguish project management from general management such as risk management, leadership and team management, conflict management and negotiation.

A general review of general management and project management literature suggests that there is a clear overlap between the skills required for both of them. For instance, Nokes & Kelly (2007, p. 16), categorized a number of skills that are required for both project and general management such as time management, HR, planning, budgeting and cost management. Similarly, Burke (2010, p.32), lists a number of general management skills that are required in project management such as customer service, computer skills, marketing and accounts. However, general management skills are applicable in project management but they are not sufficient for managing projects successfully. Thus, project managers should focus on the specific skills required for project management.

To begin with risk management as a distinctive skill that needs a special attention in project management rather than general management. This is because of the unique nature of projects to produce a special and new product. Creating a new service inevitably involves new processes with high level of risk and uncertainty. Unlike the repetitive nature of ongoing work which is usually similar to the work done before (Burke 2010, p.25). For instance, the process of manufacturing cans of beer, canning a large number of cans on daily basis as an example for on-going business. The possibility of producing cans with undesired specification and the level of risk is very low (Nokes & Kelly 2007, p.11). Thus, the level of uncertainty and risk in on-going business is lower than the one in projects. Therefore, a different management skill needed for managing these high risk activities. According to Nokes & Kelly (2007, p.16), managing the risk nature of projects is the main difference between project management and general management. Similarly, Burke (2010, p.25), identify the difference between project work and day-to-day work in terms of risk and uncertainty contending that the project work involves with higher levels of uncertainty and risk. Thus, due to the high level of uncertainty and risk associated with the projects. Project managers need special skills of risk management in order to be able to manage these risky activities.

Secondly, leadership and team...
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