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Soft Skills are Vital for Effective Project Controls

"Soft Skills are Vital for Effective Project Controls" by Chris Carson, FAACE, PSP, DRMP, CEP, CCM, PMP Director of Program Controls ARCADIS U.S., Inc. & Pat C. Kelly, PSP, CPE Senior Project Controls Consultant Kelly Consulting, LLC


The industry is full of recommendations for good technical Project Controls techniques, some written by the authors, but rarely does anyone address the need for exemplary soft skills in the Project Controls Role. No matter the technical proficiency, the inability to communicate the message behind the analysis will result in wasted effort. Wikipedia defines soft skills as "the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people".

In order to be an effective member of the Project Management (PM) team, and it is necessary to be effective if the PM team is to listen to recommendations from Project Controls (PC), it takes good soft skills. Whether it’s planning projects, capturing update information, addressing risks, discussing corrective actions, or providing claims avoidance support, if the PC expert is not also an expert in soft skills and unable to ultimately communicate the message behind the analysis, the value is greatly reduced or lost. Ultimately, the Project Controls Consultant must be able to identify the needs of the client, produce the analysis and communicate the result. A failure of any piece of this trifecta can lead to the entire engagement being considered a failure or a waste of time and money.

This paper provides some recommendations for those soft type skills, personality testing such as the Meyers-Briggs Personality Profile, that are necessary to supplement the technical skills, and offers ways to both train and test for the necessary soft skills.

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