With information technology (IT) only more important in everyday business, getting the right people in who can handle that technology is vital to getting the most out of it. That means people with skills in IT project management, but what skills are actually necessary to do this job? What traits should you be looking for in your own staff, and in future hires, to make this valuable field generate the most value for your business? With that in mind, here's a rundown of some of the best skills an IT project manager should have.
The Best in IT Project Management Starts Here
Looking for new IT project managers? Planning to promote from within or hire from outside? Keep this checklist handy for skills and traits you should be looking for.
The clear winner when it comes to a trait for IT project management is management skills. There's a lot that goes into such a skill, however, and that mix of subclasses will be a major factor in determining who has the right kind of management skill for your business.
- Resource management. IT projects require resources. Being able to manage those resources—be it time, man-hours, money, or anything similar—is vital to keeping a task operating and producing its ultimate value. Since resources are always scarce, an IT project management professional who can make the case for his or her own project effectively will be vital to getting it properly funded and staffed.
- Personnel management. No IT project goes anywhere without its team. The various people involved in a project need to play their parts in its construction, and the right manager can keep the team on task and producing as they should. The project manager should know the right people for the right roles, and be able to get those people in place accordingly.
- Conflict management. Inevitably, there are conflicts in any project. Whether it's a problem in personnel, in resources, or in some issue involving both facets at once, the IT project management professional who can put out the fires and keep the project on track is the one to have on hand. The project manager knows how to get the right people in the right parts, but if problems come up therein, the project manager can effectively step in. This even applies to pressures from outside the project's immediate food chain. Executive meddling doesn't just kill television shows; it can also kill IT projects.
This might seem too obvious to mention, but communications skills are vital. The right set of communications skills for an IT project manager, however, aren't just about being able to talk to people.
- Personnel communications. The right project manager has to be able to communicate with the team sufficiently to understand what the issues are around the project as well as how to address these. A project manager unable to effectively communicate will lose the respect of his or her team, and that will increase the project's chances of ultimate failure. A project manager who can communicate, however, can better keep the team in line and the project on track.
- Management communications. The right project manager, however, can't simply talk to his or her team in isolation. That manager has to be able to serve as an intermediary with
- upper management, communicating effectively about risks and their management. Being able to convey the project's status, the issues it's encountering, and the needs it has in turn are all vital to the overall success of a project. Failure to communicate on this
level increases the chance that management will become personally involved, and this directly impacts staff morale. Going from someone who knows what they're talking about to several someones who have less valuable input is a detriment to the project. Worse, the team may feel that it's no longer “trusted” to do a good job, which further damages team spirit and productivity.
Just as with communications skills, there are multiple facets involved in experience that need to be addressed.
- Risk assessment. Some projects never should have been taken on to begin with. Knowing the risks of any IT project can help a project manager work around these risks to produce a better result, or even potentially know when it's time to shut down, if such an option is available. Either way, knowing the risks is either the first step to beating them, or the first step to knowing the project itself is untenable.
- Experience in the field. Managers should know at least close to what is necessary to step in and work on a project themselves. That means a familiarity with several different technical platforms and methods so that, if there's a problem in the process, the manager can step in and provide some insight. The last thing anyone needs in an IT project management professional is a Dilbert-style Pointy-Haired Boss who understands management principles but doesn't have clue one about what the team is actually doing.
But What If We Don't Have the Right IT Project Management Skills?
If you've looked at this list, swallowed hard, and realized that there's nobody on the payroll that qualifies, first, take a deep breath. Solving this shortfall is simpler than you might think, and it starts by getting a hold of us at UTG. Outsourcing your needful project management functions to a skilled service provider is a great way to cover up the shortfall in your own roster, and since we offer a wide range of services from managed IT to network and system engineering, we can supply you with the skills you may not already have. So when you've considered your IT project management, and found a hole or two, just get in touch with us to make your project management the best it can be.