Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

Why I am Still a Geek

Posted by iammarchhare on 3 April 2009

Why Being a Techie is a Positive Thing

The other day, I posted about how I’m a Geek! out of frustration with receiving spam emails for all sorts of “opportunities” that have nothing to do with IT or project management.  Yesterday, I posted in the article Don’t Try to Get a Job which included a blurb about how IT project managers are rather independent, which is likely due to being tried by difficult circumstances.

Is this contradictory?  I think not.

If you have read my post about The Most Important Project Management Skill, then you realize, IT or not, a project manager must first of all be a good manager.  Often, the project manager requires even more skills because the people working on the project do not report directly to the PM.

Geeks are not nerds.  Some people are very smart, very bright but socially don’t express themselves well and do not wish to.  Nerds are sometimes inclined technically.  Geeks, however, are technically inclined but also know how to communicate their ideas and vision to others.  Geeks may or may not make good managers, but nerds do not.

Project management is so much more than running the latest earned value calculations or updating MS Project.

This brings me to a topic that people often disagree on.  Should a project manager be an expert in the field they are working in?  Usually, PMs will move up through the ranks, so it isn’t a question.  However, I have seen a construction PM oversee an IT project.  The skills are transferable.  However, is it desirable?

I would at least think it would be desirable that a PM overseeing an IT project have a technical background.  Likewise, I would not feel comfortable overseeing a construction project.  However, should that stop me from overseeing a wireless communications project?  Honestly, I don’t think it should.

The PM relies upon the subject matter experts (SMEs) to get the work done.  If they don’t know their job, it will fail unless they can be swapped out for others who know it better.  SMEs know how to get it done and how long it takes.  That’s why they are the experts.

It will take some extra effort for the PM to reorient themselves, but if the project manager has been in technology for a while, he or she should be used to changes by now.  How fast do operating systems change?  How long does hardware really last?  Anyone in a technical field should be used to constant change.

If you are stuck in a rut, consider branching out.  If you haven’t programmed in a while, blow the dust off of Visual Studio.  If you already know .NET, open up Eclipse and take it for a drive.  Expand your horizons.  If you came up doing software, volunteer for a small infrastructure project.  Building your skill set not only helps your team and company, but it makes you more valued by the company and by the project teams you work with.

Let’s face it: In today’s job environment, every little bit helps.

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