Most of us have been project managers already when at school and we undertook projects set by the teacher. Working on a classroom project is considered by many to be one of the more enjoyable lessons as it comprises a number of different stages, which make it more engaging than lessons dedicated to a single subject. Having been given the brief (complete with deadline), the pupil sets about demonstrating his or her skills in putting the project together. Typically this will start with research skills as details of the project are looked up, followed by writing skills as this research is processed into readable copy, desk top publishing skills as the words and pictures of the project are laid out, and finally presentation skills as the project is printed off and put together ready for inspection.

Project management within an organisation also requires a good cross-section of skills but these are rather different to those needed for school projects. So what are the skills required by the project manager in the workplace? Well you may not be surprised to see that some of the usual suspects are here.

Communication skills
Without a solid chain of communication a project is dead in the water. As project manager it is up to you to keep everyone up to date with changes and developments as soon as it is possible to do so. This applies to managers and team members alike and you should encourage communication to flow both ways.

Sample scenario
You are waiting for some important measurements to be sent by the client via email, but this email hasn't arrived. The client is adamant that he sent the email so you relay this information to your manager and to your team. Someone in your team informs you that the measurements were actually mailed to him by mistake. You inform the rest of the team and your manager of this development and you contact the client as well. This problem was solved by your use of communication on the project. Had you not informed your team of the situation you may have wasted a lot of time chasing up an email that had already been sent.

Organisational skills
These are key to keeping the project going. The details relating to a project are many and they can change before it is completed. Deadlines may change, costs may rise and unexpected obstacles, a team member off sick, for example, can throw the project into disarray. It is essential that the project manager is constantly on top of the situation as it changes. This awareness can only be achieved through disciplined organisational skills.

Sample scenario
The deadline for a project has been extended by a week. You must update all documents associated with the project to reflect this and ensure that everyone working on the project is made aware of the development. Good organisational skills will enable you to perform this task quickly and thoroughly, leaving no-one unaware of the changes.

Leadership skills
You are running this project and so your reputation will be judged on its success. Strong leadership is an essential requirement to keep a project on track and running smoothly. You should be respected by the rest of the team but not afraid to take unpopular decisions for the good of the project. A vital attribute that should be held by a good leader is not to be a tyrant, but an approachable colleague.

Sample scenario
The project is running on a tight budget. You are shown an advertisement in a magazine for one of the parts you use on the project, but at a greatly reduced cost compared to the ones you are buying. Do you go with this cut-price part, or stick with the more expensive, but proven part? Despite your colleague's enthusiasm, you have no idea of the quality or reliability of this cheaper product, or how dependable their delivery service is, and so you take the decision to stick with the more expensive part as you view that of the cheaper rival as an unnecessary risk.

Project management requires the combination of a varied selection of personal skills. It entails the taking on of great responsibility but a successfully completed project that comes in on time and within budget can be very rewarding. If you feel that you have the makings of a project manager, then brushing up on the individual skills that make up the whole would be a good place to start.