Role Of An IT Project Manager At Cross Road

The world of Information Technology is super dynamic. It is exposed to a rapid rate of change. Sometimes the change is faster than the time needed to settle down with a technology. There are many instances in real time IT Projects where managers are grappling with the issues on a project and there is a change in technology. You can understand how this might wear out an IT project manager.

What is the role of an IT Project manager? How different is it from that of a regular manager? What factors really affect the performance of an IT Project manager? These and more questions pop up during such times of aggressive change. It is no wonder if some IT project managers turn philosophers questioning the very existence and meaning of life during these times of extreme changes!

This particular PMP help blog defines the role of a project manager.  The gist of this blog post is that an IT project manager is nothing less than god when it comes to dealing with various aspects of a project. The IT project manager is a great leader, good communicator, maintains external calm in spite of all the internal turmoil and chaos, manages team and still delivers on time! Interestingly, the job descriptions of IT project managers across reputed job portals like Indeed and LinkedIn give similar list of qualities for an ideal candidate. It might seem that recruitment of such candidates is not a problem given that demand and needed skill sets are same. Alas, it is not as black and white as this. Ask any recruiting manager, they will confirm!

Part of the situation (note, I am not saying problem) is that the typical role associated with an IT manager is just not the same way it used to be a couple of years ago. The erstwhile IT project manager ran a show of planning and controlling. It is not the same case anymore. What is the key change you ask! Well, the key change is change itself!

Any change demands adaptability. A person/technology/organization/system that doesn’t adapt to change becomes extinct. This is an age principle that applies to everything, whether IT or not.  In the IT sector changes have been abundant and frequent. The IT world’s adaptability to these changes has given rise to what we know as agile software development.

Dictionary definition of the world ‘agile’ is the ability to move quickly and easily. It is basically responding to a change quickly enough. Planning as an aspect may or may not feature in this response. This is where it all changes for a PMP kind of a IT project manager to that of a real world change facing IT project manager.

Most organizations have agile software development teams. These teams are technically small in size with brilliant ability to adapt and self-organize them selves in the face of any change.  Are you wondering, ‘where, then is the need for an IT Project Manager?’. If you are, then you are on the right track.

In these scenarios, the IT project manager is not just a team leader, scrum leader or a lead manager. In fact, the IT project manager becomes a bit of all of these roles and more. So, in essence, the IT project manager is a leader. To this extent, there is no iota of doubt in anyone’s mind.

The IT Project manager as a role really keeps evolving as the environment of software development projects is changing. However, there are certain qualities that do not and should not change no matter what! Three of these key qualities are:-

Centered – The IT project manager should be centered no matter how much ever chaos is going on inside his/her head or team.

High EQ – The IT project manager should have a high EQ because project management really is all about people management.

Technically Sound – The IT project manager should know the nitty gritties of the project  being handled. Knowing all the intricacies of different roles helps empathize but more importantly plan and organize.

Over and above these basic qualities, the overall role of an IT project manager is at cross roads, today because we as a human race are at a juncture of generational software changes. Big Data, Analytics, Robotics, IoT are all redefining technology the way we know it. An IT project manager is definitely needed but in an avatar that will go with the demands of these changing technologies. A PMP certification might not seem completely applicable in these changes but it is a tool that will help you keep your team steady during times of change.

Times ahead will help us understand what an ideal IT project manager should be or will be. Until then, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to good project management.

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Amarja Puranam