Project management is a specialized job. It involves planning, coordinating, identifying deliverables, and eventually implementing the job according to client or company specifications.
The IT manager’s job may involve managing the day-to-day IT needs of an organization, which could include managing computer networks, servers, and ensure the daily efficiency of information technology systems.
However, an information technology project manager’s job is project-based. Each project is different, and the IT project manager must adapt based on the specific project. Each project has specific goals, and to achieve these goals, the IT project manager must bring together a team of system analysts, software developers and technology experts, and ensure the entire project team is focused towards achieving the project goals.
The manager may need to work with vendors of IT equipment to make sure they keep the project under budget.
The IT project manager may also play a significant role in the development of training materials to assist employees in making the best use of technology in executing their duties. These materials will offer guidelines on the use of essential applications and how to log into systems.
Educational requirements for IT project managers
Technical experience in the field is helpful but not always required. There are several managers with excellent project management skills who have done well as IT project managers.
However, most IT project managers are former techies who were thrust into the job of IT project manager. Some companies expect candidates to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, with a major in either management of information systems, computer science, or information technology.
A combination of extensive technical experience in the field and a relevant bachelor’s degree are expectations of most hiring managers, but some employers will prefer an individual with a graduate degree, mainly a Master of Business Administration (MBA) specializing in technology.
An ideal curriculum should include courses in IT strategy, leadership, professional development, managerial finance, corporate decision-making, research and analysis methodology, verbal and non-verbal communication, database management, and network management. Recent advancements in technology have made studying IT through distance learning more accessible.
The day-to-day activities of an IT project manager
The daily activities of an IT project manager vary from one project to another. The IT project manager must work with other senior staff in the organization to recruit new employees in his department. They must also coordinate with other teams to strategize, plan, and implement ICT projects in the organization.
The role of an IT project manager will be similar to those of other managers in an organization, but their scope will focus more on meeting the IT needs of the company. For example, they’ll be handling stuff like database management and programming. They will make sure those tasked with actualizing ICT projects in the organization do their work to perfection.
The IT project manager must have an in-depth understanding of the IT needs of the company and take a leadership role in assembling the team that will develop and implement the desired solutions.
The primary responsibility of an IT project manager is to maintain the computer network in an organization. Every organization has IT needs. Though the structure and size of an organization will determine its IT requirement, each organization requires the following needs to be met:
- Installation of network elements which may include laptops and desktop computers, smartphones, PDAs, GPS-based vehicle units, and other electronic devices used in accessing the network. They will grant access to users to access the organization's software and programs besides creating user accounts.
- Communication with other departments to establish the needs of the organization. This role will include departments to choose hardware and assist coworkers in knowing how to use technology in their daily activities in the organization. For example, the IT project manager must work closely with the finance manager to determine the hardware and software to purchase for the organization.
- Maintaining the network. The IT project manager will have the responsibility of upgrading and updating software besides troubleshooting. These actions are critical to protecting the integrity of the system and preventing slowdowns and failures that can be financially costly to the organization.
- Securing the network. Network security is an expansive role that goes beyond installing antivirus software. Security measures that the IT project manager will implement will include determining the employees who’ll have access to confidential information on the organization, monitoring how employees use company internet and equipment, and protecting company information from outside threats such as hackers and other intruders.
The following are the typical duties and responsibilities of IT project managers:
- Preserving the company assets through data back-ups, information controls, and procedure and data recovery. Using a timesheet app and other similar software to manage ICT projects in the organization.
- Using IT to define, support, and deliver the company’s strategic plan.
- Researching emerging technologies and relating them to the organization’s needs. They will use new technology to solve these needs.
- Analyzing the needs of the company and providing a technical solution and timelines for implementation of the solutions.
- Effective implementation and detailed timelines for project controls for the company’s software releases.
- Measuring the effectiveness of the implemented IT solution via systems audits.
- Participating in hardware and software assessment and maintaining contracts with suppliers.
- Recommending IT strategies, procedures, and policies by looking at the company’s needs and evaluating the outcomes.
- Loading the correct software such as the operating systems.
- Troubleshooting and resolving user problems regarding the organization’s software in time.
- Administering antivirus and email systems.
- Participating in forecasting and the preparation of the project budget, analyzing variances, scheduling expenditures and implementing corrective actions to save the company from loses.
- Enhancing quality service by enforcing the organization's standards.
Technology is an important part of our lives today. An IT project manager is expected to have skills in both IT and project management.