Project managers spearheading IT initiatives are change agents within any organization big or small because their projects tend to encounter resistance and obstacles from all levels of a company.
It can be a highly rewarding career financially and personally but it's not for everyone. An IT project manager has to be part circus juggler, smooth diplomat and ruthless field general. The every day stress level can be high. Conflict resolution skills are a must whether it is negotiating between prickly personalities or seeking a compromise between opposing tasks that require the same scarce resources. A lead manager must have sufficient technical knowledge to balance the needs of IT and business operations and keep the project pointed in the right direction.
Technology Project Manager Career Path
Bachelors degrees in project management are relatively new. Historically, most project managers did not start their careers with project management in mind. For many project work was a part of their existing responsibilities. They transitioned to full-time project managers for professional development and career advancement.
IT project management demands a level of technical knowledge sufficient enough that it enables a project lead to effectively work with technical employees. Because of this most IT project managers are former developers or systems analysts with computer science or information technology degrees.
The level of technical profiency depends on the kind of work that a company is engaged in. For example, a company that develops web sites would need a project manager versed in HTML, CSS, database principles and user experience design.
The ideal package of an IT project manager includes a college degree in a computing area of study, three to five years of work experience and a certification from a recognized professional project management program such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) or the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Project management certification is globally recognized and applicable to all industries. Salaries can reach $100,000 and above depending on experience, performance and professional certifications.
On The Job Skills
The main challenges of an IT-focused project lead are:
• Communicating the scope and status of a project to all affected workers.
• Presenting realistic goals and plans.
• Anticipating unexpected consequences while keeping an eye on the overall picture.
• Earning the trust of the project team and stakeholders.
Technology projects in particular are prone to unintended results due to the rapid pace of change and availability of resources. This is one reason why tech projects run over budget or may require re-engineering after completion. An IT project manager must be flexible to adjust to changing conditions and resource availability while firmly keeping a project on track.
IT project management is a balancing act. For someone with the right temperament and skills it can be a rewarding, evergreen profession.