The Business Talent Group's first ever Skills Index ranks the qualities Fortune 1000 companies demand in their consultants. Market Analysis, Growth Strategy, and Strategic Planning all rank highly, but Project Management skills tops them all. It's clear business leaders are in need of professionals who can confidently and expertly guide projects to a successful close.

Looking to boost your skills in this area and become an in-demand consultant? Check out these tips from the supply chain project managers at Source One.

1. Get it Right From the Start
In any industry, decisiveness is essential for effective Project Management. A manager can't expect their team to perform their roles effectively, carry out initiatives, or deliver on their objectives if they aren't absolutely certain what these roles, initiatives, and objectives are in the first place. From the first planning sessions to the final debrief meeting, consistency and clarity will pave the way to success. Ensure you develop a complete project scope that relevant stakeholders both approve and understand. Though sudden changes are possible (even likely), an effective project scope can make all the difference in realizing success.

2. Focus on the 'Why'
Professionals working in Procurement want to know that their work has meaning - for the business, themselves, and the world at large. In fact, a 2015 Ernst & Young report found that 89% of organizations consider 'shared purpose' critical to maintaining employee satisfaction. At every opportunity, emphasize both the purpose and the potential impacts of your project. You'll foster a greater sense of camaraderie, boost morale, and promote productivity. Each and every member of your team will feel compelled to give their best effort when there's no opportunity to question what their work really means.

3. Maintain a Risk Response Unit
Even the most effective Project Manager, supported by the most effective possible team, will hit a snag or two during the course of an initiative. This is particularly true in Supply Chain Management where risk factors like extreme weather, government regulations, and cybersecurity attacks pose a constant threat. There's no such thing as 'impossible' when it comes to disruption. That's why you and your risk response team need to plan for every conceivable instance. Identify alternate sources of supply, establish clear chains of command, and always maintain open lines of communication. You don't want to get stuck scrapping a project because you failed to plan.

4. Never Stop Learning
Whether you're fresh out of school or decades into your career in Supply Chain Management, your knowledge base is far from complete. As the new Skills Index proves, Project Management is a hot topic and the related skills are a hot commodity. That means you can expect a constant stream of new literature and thought leadership on the subject in the coming years. William Faulkner said it best, "Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it." No, you shouldn't literally read every project management text, but keep an eye out for fresh insights. Making efforts to absorb new wisdom will boost your credibility and provide for ongoing professional development.

5. Insist on Accountability
Demanding perfection is no way to motivate team members, no way to manage a project, and no way to maintain efficiency. What Project Managers can demand, however, is accountability. Mistakes will happen. That's perfectly okay. What's not okay, is a team member that won't accept being held accountable. Regular check-ins with your team will help encourage feelings of responsibility and mutual investment, but it's not enough to insist your team remain accountable. A good manager holds themselves to the highest standard of all. Failing to admit when you've led a project astray, given unclear directions, or otherwise come up short as a manager will only create discontent. Ensure you never let yourself off the hook, and your team will never let you down.

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