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Business Analysis and Project Management – Part I – Time to Bring Back the Soft Skills (#1 in the series Business Analysis and Project Management)
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation

Understanding best-practice processes is critical when working with a team to achieve project success, but acquiring and practicing good people skills is also imperative if project and organizational goals are to be realized. The common thread running through all the essential skills needed to be a great Project Manager or Business Analyst is working with people, just as the biggest impact on determining project success or failure centers on relationships.

Whether it’s defining the scope of a project, exercising change control or closing a project out, the more comfortable Project Managers and Business Analysts are when interacting with people the more successful they will be in their roles. Through understanding “how we are with others” and “how we are with ourselves”, we can all manage projects to successful outcomes.

Soft skills touch every profession. Imagine what the world would look like without the mastery of them. Imagine customer service representatives who can’t show empathy, military officers unable to create a sense of belonging within their platoons, professors not being able to communicate ideas clearly, sales people not being able to negotiate, and mechanics not being able to problem solve.

Because soft skills are less tangible (harder to quantify, and therefore less “scientific”), they are often viewed as being less essential. During tough economic times, fewer resources are spent on developing soft skills because they are harder to measure, and therefore harder to calculate a return on investment. For example, training budgets were drastically cut in the early 2,000’s, which required training managers to prioritize their efforts. As a result, only directly applicable technical skills were developed, and spending on soft skills was almost nonexistent.

But economic times have improved recently, and the issue of soft skills needs to be raised and brought to the fore once again. To that end, this is the first installment in a multi-part blog series that will shine a greater light on the importance of cultivating soft skills, look at the critical role soft skills play in the project management and business analysis disciplines, and provide some helpful tips on the subject. Stay tuned!

Next time: Hard Data on Soft Skills.

Ben Snyder is the CEO of Systemation, (www.systemation.com), a business analysis and project management training and consulting company that has been training professionals since 1959. Systemation is a results-driven training and consulting company that maximizes the project-related performance of individuals and organizations. Known for instilling highly practical, immediately usable processes and techniques, Systemation has proven to be an innovative agent of business transformation for many government entities and Fortune 1000 companies, including Verizon, Barclays Bank, JPM Chase, Mattel, State of Oregon, Travelers, Bridgestone, Amgen and Whirlpool.

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