Successful project management requires data insights—now more than ever before. While today’s project management solutions deliver automated insights during planning and review, being able to truly understand, analyze, and communicate these insights is critical for the project manager of tomorrow. And that calls for strong data science skills.
Critical Data Science Skills for Project Management
To better understand and iterate on success, project managers must have in-depth knowledge of past, present, and future projects. The following data science skills can play a crucial role in helping you make more informed and effective decisions.
While each skill requires education and training, investing your time and effort is well worth the advantage you’ll gain. These skills will only grow more valuable over time and honing them now will add to your future success. According to a recent LinkedIn Workforce Report, the U.S. alone has a shortage of more than 150,000 professionals with data science and analytics skills—highlighting the widespread need for project managers with these abilities.
Powering Continual Improvement
Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that involves the use of computer algorithms that automatically and steadily improve through experience, building on past iterations to fine-tune calculations over time. For any company that generates huge amounts of data, machine learning can play a critical role in putting it to good use. This technology also helps to incrementally enhance the depth and detail of insights over time.
Machine learning can be done using a number of different techniques[KP2] , each with unique advantages and challenges. Educating yourself about machine learning can help project managers understand when and how to implement these methods in your own work. Keeping up is critical, as this powerful tool continues to gain traction in the business world.
Data Visualization and Communication
Whether a company is just getting started with making data-driven decisions or has long seen data as a critical part of its business processes, data science training is crucial for sharing ideas—a vital skill for project managers. Visualization is an essential part of internal, cross-departmental data communications regarding the success, failures, and potential pitfalls of projects.
Without proper training in data visualization and communication, project managers will need to rely on third parties—which hinders your ability to use Business Intelligence (BI) solutions that center on data insights. Data communication skills also help project managers describe your findings and techniques to other team members, who may or may not be as well-versed in data management. Training in visually encoding data and communicating information through tools like matplotlib, ggplot, d3.js, or Tableau will serve you well in the future.
Decision trees are a great way to map out the possible execution and outcomes of a project in advance. This provides a model of potential decisions and the related consequences for a given project, including how these choices might impact results, budgets, and client satisfaction.
Decision trees are outlined in a flowchart structure, with users moving between internal nodes that each represent a “test” on a specific attribute. These nodes connect to branches for the outcome of the test. Each branch eventually leads to a leaf node showing the decision that’s recommended after all attributes have been tested. Decision trees empower project managers to take decisive action with high accuracy and to maintain the adaptability needed to solve a wide variety of issues.
Binary Logistic Regression is a data model technique used to predict what will happen to a subject based on the values of independent variables, which can be used as predictors, and a predicted variable. Running this type of model can help you project the probability that a project will stay on track to completion. Project managers who can determine the odds of success will be able to make crucial adjustments as needed and begin work with a deeper understanding of the challenges you’ll likely face.
An Investment in Your Future
Data science is set to become the major driving force behind project and business decision-making, helping companies make smart choices backed by in-depth data. Organizations that integrate data science into their everyday operations and long-term planning will need project managers with these vital skills. As a project manager, being able to analyze data and use insights to strategically approach business goals will make you more integral to the long-term success of any business.
Become the Project Manager of the Future
Project managers need to continually grow their skills to stay prepared for whatever comes next in a constantly changing world. Learn more about what you can do in the full eBook, “Level Up Your Project Management Career.”