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How to Become an IT Project Manager

Published: April 5, 2017 | Updated: September 8, 2020
 

Ineffective project management costs U.S. businesses millions of dollars every year. IT projects are especially vulnerable to poor management; more than half of them fail.That’s why if you have the right knowledge, skills, and project management capabilities, you could pave a successful career path in information technology.

What Is IT Project Management?

The objective of IT project management is to achieve information technology goals through specific individual or team projects. This includes creating a plan and organizing the plan and team to accomplish the specific goals.

IT project managers oversee these projects from start to finish. They balance organizational resources with technological changes that occur during the project timeline. As such, project managers must possess information technology and business skills.

Before you become a successful IT project manager, you must learn the basics of project management.

Basics of IT Project Management

Size and Scope of IT Projects Matter

Gather with your team so you can all get a sense of the size and scope of the project. This is the big picture stuff: goals, target audience, responsibilities, expectations. With good business communication skills you’ll be able to relay that information to people involved in different parts of the project, like supervisors and directors.

Project Teamwork Is Crucial

You’ll need to work well with the project team. You should have a grasp of changing technologies and be able to help your coworkers understand them too. This will help you build trust among team members, so you can rely on each other to complete tasks to the best of your ability and in a timely manner. It’ll also help you communicate freely with everyone, including supervisors, so you can pass information back and forth efficiently. This is why interpersonal skills are crucial for project managers.

Agility Is Important with Project Management

Your team needs to be flexible. That means if an issue comes up during a software project, like if tech requirements or end-user expectations change, you need to be able to change with them. This means everyone takes on new tasks and timelines as needed in order to protect the project and achieve your goals.

Project Managers Must Gather Feedback

Document as much of the process as possible. To master the IT project manager job, get feedback from coworkers, record ideas that work and don’t work, recall any changes that took place. This will prepare you for future projects and show management you can learn from mistakes.

Project Managers Always Wrap Projects Up

Once you’ve seen a project through, connect again with your team. Share your thoughts with each other and collaborate on new solutions. This is an opportunity to consider better methods, innovate, and to come up with consistent processes. Use the information you get to look for patterns so you can pull together measurable data. This way you can show how you’ve improved over time.

Steps Successful IT Project Managers Must Follow

  1. Definite your IT project process: The way you do things in the project manager role matters almost as much as what you do. Set baseline standards and create processes and methods that are repeatable. That may be as simple as having everyone work from the same checklist. Or it may require a look at the entire scope of the project.  Define the objectives of the project, assign responsibilities, set deadlines, and put benchmarks in place so you evaluate every project step and its conclusion.
  2. Build a great project team: First you need to find people who are well-trained in IT. Knowledge and experience are important. But it’s equally important to identify who has the abilities and strengths to get the job done. And each member of your team has to work well together. It’s your job to make sure they do! You need to integrate software developers, business analysrs, and others into your team, so leader skills are important.
  3. Be proactive with your teammates: Don’t wait for the system to crash in the middle of a technical changeover; plan for it. If you’re a proactive manager, you’ll have a plan in place to deal with any issues that might come up. And you’ll know what might come up because you’ve probably seen it before. At the close of every project you assess what went well and what didn’t—and learn from it. Bring that knowledge to the next project.
  4. Communicate well with your team: You really can’t be a proactive manager, though, if you don’t communicate with all the players on your team. Effective communication means that everyone knows their responsibilities, and also how what they do connects with what everyone else does. They understand when things are going well and when they’re not, and who the team members are who can make things right. And they look to you to be the team leader.
  5. Maintain competencies throughout projects: Technology changes crazy fast and if you don’t keep up, it could drive you crazy. You and your whole team need to stay up-to-date on the technologies you use and the most effective ways to manage. That may mean taking classes and getting advanced certifications. It might mean attending conferences and workshops where you learn from your peers. But it definitely means paying attention to what’s going on in the IT industry.
  6. Assess and evaluate during and after projects: Each and every project you run is an opportunity to grow and learn. What can you learn from what you’re doing right now that will help you become an IT superhero in the future?

 

At Charter College, we understand that project management is an important part of Information Technology. Check out all our information technology programs and request more information to get started on a better path toward a career as a project manager.