The two most popular ways to become an IT project manager are to change projects from other areas to the IT area or change from an IT performer role to a manager role. Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages.
For a novice project manager, the skill of goal achievement is vital (the ability to make sure that the team releases the product on time and with the content that the client needs).
If a novice specialist has experience in project management in another area, then it will be easier for him in terms of management – to coordinate the work of a team or negotiate with a customer. At the same time, it will take longer to adapt to tasks where you need to know the specifics of IT. For example, if you need to agree on the TOR for development or discuss the task with the developer and get an estimate of the labour costs for it. A beginner with experience in IT will have a mirror situation: project and team management tasks will cause difficulties.
You can draw an analogy with weights. For some, the control bowl will outweigh, for someone – the IT bowl. The task of the project manager is to find a balance to achieve results in the end.
The main skill of a manager is not knowledge of technical specifics, but the ability to unite a team and convey the right idea. This requires communication skills: getting an idea from a client/customer, using the right questions to understand the goals and objectives, and then conveying all this to the team. If he can’t handle it, it doesn’t matter what technical knowledge the manager has. It is highly likely that without proper communication, the processes will be more expensive and longer than planned. And the worst thing is that it will turn out not at all what they wanted to do.
There are not so many approaches to management. Anyway, four things are important to us when hiring:
- The specialist understands the budget of the project. The customer determines the project budget and goals, and the use of the developed solution should bring more money than the development costs.
- How does an expert set goals? Either the team has formed an understanding of a common goal, and its achievement becomes more important for the team than the pursuit of personal ones, or everyone just digs and tries not to bury each other, without specific motives.
- What tools were used for project management and communication? A person must understand that effective and formalized communication must be established.
- Know how to lead people. When you try to explain something to people with a sad face, nothing will work. You have to be active and be able to engage. And this skill can be improved.
The main thing is that a person likes a new direction, the rest can be taught.
Soft skills are important in the work of a manager: responsibility, curiosity, ability to learn, understanding of problems, reaction to criticism because a manager is more about time and experience than about theory and knowledge.
After the books, you will have a lot of theoretical knowledge that is practically not applicable in practice. The longer you work as a manager, the more you analyze different cases. Experience in IT is also useful: if you understand how development works, it will help a lot.
The ability to hear and be responsible, the executive is the first thing that is required from a person when applying for a junior position as a project manager. As an employer, it practically doesn’t matter to us in what area we had experience in project management: automation of a farm, production, or the construction of Baikonur, or at least the organization of holidays. It is important that a person thinks logically and can manage many tasks by linking them in a certain sequence.
Even experienced managers very often encounter professional deformation when they begin to complicate the task. They think that some kind of super solution is needed. Although most often the customer will be satisfied with a simple and quick solution to his problem.