The role of IT project manager (ITPM) blends the organizational skills of traditional project management with the technical discipline of IT project management. Professionals in this role supervise an organization's IT department and manage teams to execute IT projects on time and within budget. IT project management involves a comprehensive sequence of steps from planning to execution to monitoring of results.
You might be an ideal candidate for this profession if you are a strong critical thinker with excellent coordination, time management, and active listening skills. If you possess these traits and would like to pursue a profession with high growth projections, strong compensation, and rewarding work, this career option may be right for you.
IT project managers work in every industry sector and can jump from one to another as economic conditions change, making this a relatively recession-resistant career path. As of July 2020, the median compensation in this field is $92,870 but is normally higher for those with master's degrees, given that 44% of professionals in the field have a bachelor's degree and only 20% have a master's degree.
How IT Project Managers Support Business Directives
ITPMs must deal with a wide variety of projects that businesses or IT leaders drive. Therefore, the scope of the work requires a breadth and depth of knowledge that students can efficiently attain in a specialized master's degree program that trains them in both traditional and IT project management as well as core business competencies and soft management skills.
ITPMs need expertise in computers, operating systems, network and service desk administration, and Internet of Things (IoT) equipment. This position may place you in charge of teams specializing in networking, customer service management systems, information security, hardware, business data and analytics, integrations, software updates, or help-desk support. In addition, duties may include overseeing the project schedule, maintaining the budget, managing key resources, delegating responsibilities, assessing risk, leading meetings, and communicating progress to stakeholders.
IT projects are typically managed in six phases:
- Initiation – Objective is identified, and project proposal is developed, including feasibility studies.
- Definition – Requirements are defined, the scope outlined, budgets set, and resources determined.
- Design – The team explores solutions and creates designs and prototypes before sharing the chosen design.
- Development – Contributors are assigned roles and tasks, project management tools are selected, and raw materials are requested.
- Implementation – The final deliverable is developed under the supervision of the ITPM.
- Follow Up – After project delivery, this work may include setting up support teams and systems and training end-users.
While technical and business acumen is a must for effective implementations, soft skills — especially people management and communication — are often the determining factor for success. As a result, leading programs like the Emporia State University MBA with Information Systems Concentration online have soft skills training interwoven throughout their curricula.
IT Project Management Tools and Methodologies
ITPMs use various tools: IT project management software with timelines and Kanban boards to control workflow; Gantt charts to show completed activities; data-rich reporting features; and data analysis dashboards and visualizations. Powerful software programs enable collaboration across companies and even across time zones.
Depending on the organization and its approach to ITPM, you may use any of the following project management methodologies:
Agile is an iterative approach that delivers a product in increments. The goal is to correct mistakes and make necessary improvements in the process by completing segments, reviewing, critiquing, and gaining insights as it moves along.
Scrum, another Agile methodology, is used primarily in complex knowledge work such as software development. Teams use two-week "sprints" planned, executed, and reviewed only at the end of the two-week period. Contributors manage the work individually and collectively.
Kanban focuses on process improvements and is built on a board split into categories of to-do, in progress, and completed work. Project teams can add more categories at the outset to visualize their parts in the process better.
Waterfall divides projects into linear and sequential stages, the converse of the segmented and simultaneous approach of Agile. It is organized by the constraints of time, cost, and scope, in which an adjustment to one variable forces adjustments in at least one of the other two.
LEAN aims to maximize quality and efficiency. Every component, including employees and processes, is optimized for efficiency and minimal waste of resources to produce a deliverable with maximum quality and customer value.
How Might the Profession Evolve Over Time?
Technology develops at an exponentially increasing rate, whereas most fields evolve at a linear rate. Trends expected to transform ITPM include digital transformation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, and increasing use of Agile methodologies. Remote work and dispersed teams are becoming increasingly common, and the challenge for ITPMs will be to foster collaboration across time zones, accommodating cultural and communication differences.
If you would like a dynamic career in one of the world's most high-demand and rapidly evolving professions, consider earning your MBA with a specialization in information systems.
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