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How do I Become an IT Project Manager?

Article Details
  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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If you want to become an IT project manager, it not only requires in-depth knowledge of information technology (IT) operations and emerging applications and principles but also exemplary communication skills. There are normally more phases of IT projects than in other industries, and they also commonly last longer than other corporate projects. To keep multiple projects on track requires the IT project manager to communicate regularly with in-house managers, customers, clients, vendors, and subcontractors to ensure deadlines are met or, if necessary, adjusted. All involved parties must be fully informed of each project's status.

Becoming an IT project manager starts with a solid education. A bachelor's degree in computer science or information management is usually required, and in some cases a higher degree may be desirable. Many project management jobs require five to ten years of IT experience, often with a track record of personnel management. Prior project management and strategic planning experience is also helpful.

To become an IT project manager requires excellent time management skills and the ability to effectively prioritize projects. Since priorities change based on client requests, materials, manpower, funding sources, and obtaining necessary licenses and clearances, the position requires grace under pressure. An IT project manager is expected to rearrange schedules to keep clients happy concurrent with staying on budget and meeting all terms of the contracts involved.

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You must be actively involved in planning and implementing changes at various project stages if you want to become an IT project manager. You will often work closely with the firm's IT director to determine what changes work best and discuss execution options. When these decisions have been finalized, support and technical personnel are informed of changes by either the IT director or project manager. If there are significant changes that require substantial additional funding, the IT project manager reviews the costs with various managers prior to submitting them for final approval.

The world of IT changes on a daily basis. To become an IT project manager, you will be expected to keep informed of relevant technological advances and be knowledgeable enough about them to recommend evolving solution alternatives to clients and staff. This knowledge should encompass hardware, software, peripherals, and licensing developments and innovations. Communicating these new options to superiors and clients is an important part of being a successful project manager in the IT industry.

Company meetings are a large part of being an IT project manager. Regardless of the scope of the meeting, the management of the project at hand is nearly always affected, and it is crucial the project manager is fully informed. These meetings also provide a venue for the manager to get one-on-one project updates from key personnel throughout the organization. You will likely also be expected to positively represent the company at local industry meetings and keep involved in community affairs to project a respectable image.

This is a demanding position that involves managing people, time, clients, and resources, in addition to projects. It requires tact, diplomacy, confidence in making decisions that are sometimes unpopular, and communicating both negative and positive developments to many people and offering viable solutions. A good IT project manager maintains the status quo by developing and utilizing skills to quickly identify and resolve project challenges at every level from inception through completion.

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