Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

Are You Cut Out to be a Project Manager?

Posted by iammarchhare on 27 May 2009

On the blog Project Management Tips, Brad Egeland wrote 2 articles titled “Five Signs You Aren’t Cut Out to be a Project Manager” and “Five More Signs You Aren’t Cut Out to be a Project Manager”.  Both of these articles are worthwhile reads.

The first 2 he lists pretty much show that an IT PM’s job is to bridge people and technology.  While people skills are important, they certainly aren’t the only skills you need.  Likewise, a PM in a technical position needs some sort of technology background.  While it is important for an IT PM to be technically minded, it certainly isn’t a necessity to be an expert.  Being an expert can help, as it lends credibility to the PM, but the reality is that the PM must rely upon the subject matter expert (SME) in a given area.  However, to be totally unable to understand the technical team members and to not be able to communicate the information to a business partner, a sponsor, an executive or customer can be a death sentence to a PM career.  This touches a few of Egeland’s other points as well.

In addition to the signs Egeland lists, I would like to submit these 5 for your consideration.  It isn’t that these are any better than Egeland’s lists, but his certainly got my own thought processes working.

Inability to Negotiate

Part of being a manager is the ability to negotiate items.  As a PM, you may need to assist purchasing with negotiating features or price with a vendor.  A PM will definitely be negotiating timelines and resource allocations.  A PM might have to probe into estimates and help come up with alternatives.  A PM will have to set customer/sponsor expectations.

Unwillingness to Continue Learning

Some people graduate college thinking they will never need to learn again.  A PM, though, is constantly learning.  In fact, any IT manager, including an IT PM, has to do double duty on learning because a good PM will be keeping up on the latest technology as well as learning new management skills.

Shady Ethics

Yes, it is a sad statement on the state of the world to even mention this one, but many companies these days have lost sight that the public trust has to be earned.  International companies can present special challenges because graft and “gifts” are taken for granted in some cultures.

Lack of Transparency

This is similar to lacking ethics, but it also includes hiding “bad news” from stakeholders.  This does not mean, of course, that you just bluntly state bad news, but it does mean you don’t try to hide it either.  Bad news has a way of leaking out when it is least convenient.  Unfortunately, I have witnessed executives and product managers that try to cover up the truth only to worsen customer relations in the long run.

Lack of Creativity

Perhaps the most controversial on my list, this item isn’t referring to artistic flair or even to not being able to create an appealing user interface.  Rather, this is the ability to use or reuse technology and processes in some new way.  If you are really creative, it may mean using items in a manner that wasn’t originally intended.  For things that already exist, someone had to be first.  Someone had to be first in applying user supplied tags to objects.  Someone had to be first to take the idea of streaming video and create video conferencing over the Internet.  I can remember using DOS batch files for fdisk-ing and formatting hard drives in a computer lab during bootup because the Novell scripting had limitations that made it difficult in Novell.  Do you have the creativity required to be a true solution provider?

Those are Mine

So, what are some that you have identified as being necessary in order to be cut out to be an IT PM?


One Response to “Are You Cut Out to be a Project Manager?”

  1. […] by iammarchhare on 29 May 2009 This week, we’ve looked at use cases vs user stories, basic abilities for PMs and BA competencies for gathering requirements.  All of these involve in one way or another […]

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