Last week we looked at tips for construction project managers. While project management remains the same across industries (with the exception of some terminology), project managers in different industries will face different issues and challenges. This week, let's examine 5 tips focused on IT project managers.
Develop strong interpersonal skills. There are many strong and diverse personalities working in technology. A good IT project manager needs to work with many different personalities, from developers to executives. Being able to relate to and motivate everyone is an important skill. Don't think, "I can't work with them," but instead, figure out how to get the best working relationship possible.
Develop strong conflict resolution skills. The strong and diverse personalities in IT inevitably lead to conflict, mostly about technical decisions. A good IT project manager will need to mine for constructive conflict and prevent destructive conflict. This means facilitating technical review meetings where everyone is heard and decisions are made by consensus. Destructive conflicts where tempers may flair need to be managed and channeled into constructive resolutions.
Develop effective communication skills. Having effective communication skills is also vital. Perhaps the most critical need is to be able to explain technical facts and issues clearly and concisely in language that any stakeholder can understand. Project managers with these skills should also be prepared to contribute to documentation and training, as these also need clarity.
Spend more time in requirements and planning. A major issue with many IT projects is that they get "stuck" at 95% completion. A project expected to end next week, may actually consume another several months. This often stems from insufficient requirements and planning. All requirements should be accompanied by clear and measurable acceptance criteria. While it also takes more time in estimation, I've found PERT estimation to be helpful in understanding issues and providing reasonable ranges for completion. All my successful projects spent between 20-25% of total project time in planning.
Build strong technical skills. While project management itself is a portable skill set, IT project managers will need a level of understanding of the technology they are managing. There will either be an expectation of technical contributions, or the ability to make decisions based on technical information. You won't need to be the expert, but you will need to understand.
Do you have other tips for IT project managers to consider? If so, let us know in the comments below!
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