Seven skills to look for in an IT Project Manager
Whether it’s an app, a piece of software or a custom website that your organisation needs, it will fall to your IT Project Manager to ensure everything happens without a hitch. This means that your first task before undertaking any IT project is to find the very best Project Manager you can.
The world of IT project management requires applicants to be versatile, with a broad selection of strengths. But precisely which skills should you look for when interviewing individuals?
First and foremost, any Project Manager needs to display strong leadership skills. This doesn’t mean just when they are managing fellow techies, they should also be able to lead any multi-disciplined team from the very start of a project all the way through to sign-off.
Project Managers have to be great communicators, regardless of whether it’s giving a presentation, video-calling a client or simply sending an email. Communications should be concise, easily understandable and in an appropriate tone of voice. The biggest cause of failure in any project, after all, is a failure to communicate.
A typical IT project will involve multiple teams of people carrying out different tasks simultaneously, so you need a Project Manager who can keep track of them all and their various deadlines. Excellent time management skills are a must, as is the ability to step in and micro-manage important portions of the project when the need arises.
4. Technical know-how
It’s all very good being a great manager but the best Project Managers also have a deep understanding of IT processes themselves. Project Managers who come from a tech background are therefore often better equipped to understand the various idiosyncrasies and issues that can arise in large IT projects. Should the worst-case scenario actually happen, they must be able (and willing) to roll up their sleeves and help their team get the job done.
Anyone can oversee a project and ensure it’s completed in time if money is no object, whereas getting a job finished on time AND on budget is much harder. The best Project Managers can stick to a budget and should be comfortable negotiating with service/product suppliers when necessary to keep a project in the black.
It’s no secret that IT project management is a stressful business, with multiple variables and points of failure. Project Managers command their healthy fees or salaries because of just how difficult the role can be. Look for candidates who can take the stresses of the role on the chin and be minimally affected by it. When a Project Manager loses their cool, it can be the beginning of the end, creating disgruntled team members which has rippling negative effect out across the entire project.
Finally, the best IT Project Managers are realistic in what can be achieved. This means they’ll be able to give you reliable estimates on everything from budgets to completion time. Be wary of any Project Manager who seems ‘too good to be true’. For example, if they’re promising a job completed in half the time estimated by other applicants, it is likely they’re just doing this to win the position. Once work starts, you may then find the project completion being delayed and you’ll realise you’ve been played.
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