IT Project Manager Careers
IT Project Managers use technical and management skills to plan and co-ordinate IT projects. They try to make sure that all the planned activities are finished on time, to a high quality, to specifications and within the budget.
IT project managers plan, manage and co-ordinate IT projects and teams. They might be involved in a large installation of new hardware or software, or they might work with a team of consultants and programmers writing new computer applications for a customer. At the start of a project, a business case is produced outlining the purpose of the project and comparing costs with the anticipated savings or benefits. The customer or user of the system has to approve this before work can begin
Project managers then speak to the people who will eventually use, or be responsible for, the system, to find out exactly what they need. They might take responsibility for costing and pricing the project, and agreeing the budget. The detailed work in preparing this information might be carried out by others, such as systems analysts
They also agree the specific items to be delivered by the project with the customer or user, and set start and end dates; then they use their technical skills to plan and priorities activities.
Project managers prepare the project definition document, and decide on what skills are required and who the project team members should be
They analyse projects to see if there are risks attached to them, for example, if there is a chance that hardware will not be delivered on time. They try to minimise these risks right from the start, as well as throughout the project, and build in some extra time if they judge that it might be needed. They sometimes use specialist computer software packages to plan all the project activities, and to decide when each one needs to be completed by
Some activities can be carried out at the same time, if there are enough people to do the tasks, but other tasks have to be completed in sequence.
Project managers make sure that the members of the project team have the tools and resources they need to do the job. They monitor the progress of the project and report regularly to the customer or users. They might, for example, arrange regular meetings where progress is discussed and any problems are raised. The project manager tries to anticipate problems and find solutions to resolve conflicts.
Project managers keep track of how much money and time have been spent on the project; they try to find ways to complete activities successfully, on time, within the amount of money allowed and to the quality specified.
The project manager is responsible for making sure that the customer accepts the project when it is handed over by the project team. At the end of each project, the project manager reviews what went well and not so well, so that the performance of the team and the quality of the products or service can be improved.
Personal Qualities and Skills
IT project managers need to be good planners who can prioritise tasks, manage time and adapt to the unexpected. They need to have a logical approach to analysis and problem solving, and ability to think ahead and remain calm under pressure.
To become an IT project manager, you will need technical IT skills as well as communication and management skills. You should be a good listener and you will also need to be able to speak well in front of groups of people. You will need to enjoy working in a team, and should be able to lead and motivate others. You will need good negotiating and persuading skills. You should be confident, adaptable, tactful and decisive.
You should be numerate to keep close financial control of projects, and good written communication skills to produce reports. You might need to enjoy travelling and may need a full driving licence if you work for an IT consultancy company.
Key IT Project Management skills
- Consulting with clients and personnel at all levels.
- Deciding on the best way to use resources, eg, people, money or equipment. Planning how work is to be carried out
- Making agreements through negotiating and bargaining
- Co-ordinating people or activities
- Influencing people's decisions or actions
- Understanding the uses of computers
- Presenting ideas and information in writing
- Programming computers
- Working with financial information
- Teamwork - organising or supervising people
- Working out how much things are worth
- Solving problems
- Finding and analysing information
- Speaking in front of groups of people
- Working under pressure
- Making decisions that affect other people
- Understanding how businesses and organisations work
- Explaining ideas and information to people
- Keeping accurate records or reports
- Organising and storing information
- Being accurate and paying attention to detail
- Local travel. Being away from home
The pay rates given below are approximate. IT project managers earn in the range of £24,500 - £32,000 a year, rising to £42,500 - £57,000. Higher earners can make around £76,000 a year.
Working hours Working weeks are based around office hours - Monday to Friday. However, they sometimes work in the evening and at weekends according to the demands of the project, and especially when nearing deadlines.
Employers throughout the UK include computer manufacturers, software houses and ICT consultancies. Jobs are also with employers in industry and commerce, including banking, finance and insurance, and in the public sector with local and central government departments, the NHS and public utilities, such as gas, electric and water companies.
Some IT project managers work on a freelance or consultancy basis, usually on short-term contracts, for the life of the project. There may be opportunities to work in other countries.
Entry Routes and Training
Many IT project managers have previous experience as computer systems analysts, consultants or programmers
Entrants to computing jobs are usually graduates. Degrees, HNDs, HNCs in relevant computing subjects are widely available. Graduates in other degree subjects can take a postgraduate conversion course in IT. Other IT project managers enter after experience in general management. NVQs in Project Management are available at levels 4 and 5.
The Information Systems Examination Board (ISEB), a division of the British Computer Society (BCS), offers the Certificate in IS Project Management for people with four years' management or information systems experience, or, for direct entry, 3 years' proven project management experience. Candidates attend an accredited training course and then sit written and oral exams.
The ISEB offers the Foundation Certificate in IS Project Management for people new to project management as well as people involved in IT projects.
The Association for Project Management (APM) offers a foundation professional examination for practising project managers. This is known as the APMP and is based on the Association's standard Body of Knowledge.
The APM has a higher qualification, the Certificated Project Manager, which is achieved through self-assessment, a report of a project managed by the candidateand a professional interview.
The Project Management Institute offers the Project Management Professional certification for practitioners with required amount of experience.
Short courses are available in the use of project management software packages and many specific project management topics.
Some project managers take a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in order to get a greater understanding of the business process. MBAs are widely available art-time and by distance learning
Requirements for entry to a degree / HND course in computing or business:
- GCSEs at grade C or above in 2/3 other subjects
- English and Maths might be required at GCSE
- GCSEs in vocational subject, such as such as Applied ICT or Applied Business, may be acceptable as an alternative to academic GCSEs.
- Relevant Edexcel (BTEC) National qualifications and Vocational A-levels may also be acceptable
New entrants normally have an IT-related degree, for example, computing science. However, entry is possible for graduates with non-IT related subjects, if they can provide evidence of IT technical ability. Taking a postgraduate IT conversion course will improve your chances of employment. Distance learning courses are available at a number of centres, including:
- The Association for Project Management (APM)
- APM qualifications are aligned with the International Project Management Association’s 4 level certification programme. APM qualifications are internationally recognised and designed to meet the needs of project managers at various stages of their career
- APMP (IPMA Level D) is a knowledge-based foundation qualification. Successful candidates are able to participate in projects from individual assignments through to large capital projects. APMP is a qualification recognised both nationally and internationally that successful candidates can carry from one job to another or from one industry to another.
- The APM has a higher qualification, the Certificated Project Manager, which is achieved through self-assessment, a report of a project managed by the candidate and a professional interviewer
- A large number of institutions offer relevant postgraduate courses, leading to MSc or MBA qualifications, by distance learning. Normally, candidates are at least 27, hold a first degree and have three years' experience of project management.
- Applicants should check with centres for current entry requirements.
There is no formal upper age limit for entry into this occupation
· Careers & Jobs in IT by Yardley D. Kogan Page
- Association for Project Management.
- Telephone: 0845 458 1944 Website: www.apm.org.uk
- British Computer Society, 1 Sanford Street, Swindon SN1 1HJ
- Telephone: 01793 417424 Website: www.bcs.org.uk
Career Profile taken from Adult Directions, produced by CASCAiD Ltd”.