The top 2 PMP technical skills that I recommend learning today

We all know that mastering “soft skills” such as leadership, communication, BS‘ing, etc. are very important skills for a PMP. Soft skills are great, but technical skills (hard skills) are often easier to learn and demonstrate mastery in.

The #1 technical skill I recommend PMPs learn is something you are probably already good enough at, and if so, you should skip to my #2 skill (I’ll get to that in a moment). But first, my #1 must-have PMP technical skill is how to use, understand, and avoid the downfalls of using MS-Project for tracking your project. You need to know MS-Project as it is widely used in all but the most specialized project environments. But you should know that MS-Project was built mostly for “waterfall” style projects and can really mess things up if you let it take over how you manage and track progress in your project. 

That brings me to the #2 technical skill that I recommend PMPs get up to speed on. That would be agile project management or more specifically Scrum techniques. I’m too lazy to compile all the arguments for learning Scrum here, so I’ll all leave that up to you and your Googling. But what I will say is that the basic approaches in Scum have been very useful for me in all kinds of process improvement, change management, and product innovation projects that I’ve worked on — and these projects had almost nothing to do with software development. My favorite part of Scrum is how you focus on quickly delivering the highest priority features to the project customer, learning from the feedback, and then deciding what to deliver next rather than waiting for the project to be almost over before realizing the Gantt chart plans should have been changed long ago.

For technical skill #1, I don’t have any great MS-Project books or courses to recommend, as you should be able to learn all you need to know from the tutorials included in the software. 

For technical skill #2, I would suggest starting with a good book on Scrum, such as this free ebook. Then, take this free online entry-level course Scrum Fundamentals Certified from PMI REP VMedu, Inc. Once you are familiar with Scrum, I recommend using the free Kanban card tools at Trello.com to organize and communicate your project burndown lists (to-do lists), especially if your project team is distributed. Here’s a great short article talking about using Trello and the Kanban technique to manage software development and personal to-do lists.

If you know of other free resources for PMP technical skills that would help your fellow PDUmonsters, please email Tim and let us know.