What Is an IT Project Manager?
A project manager in any industry needs to be an organized, resourceful, inspiring leader. In the information technology world, project managers must possess a unique combination of deep subject-matter knowledge and quick, on-their-feet thinking to ensure the industry’s complex and frequently changing projects go off without a hitch.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why IT project managers are a special breed.
What does an IT project manager do?
IT project managers are responsible for planning, organizing, allocating resources for, budgeting, and successfully executing organizations’ specific IT goals. Such projects might include:
- Software and app development
- Hardware installations
- Network upgrades
- Cloud computing and virtualization rollouts
- Projects around business analytics and data management
- Miscellaneous IT services
IT project managers may work with a variety of teams within the organization, including (but not limited to) those in charge of:
- Hardware (operating systems and platforms) and software
- Networking (firewalls and connectivity)
- Business data and analytics
- Service management (contracts and procurement)
- Help-desk support
- Information security (compliance and governance)
For each of these projects, an IT project manager will likely lead the following stages:
- Initiation: The project goal is identified, and the project is created.
- Planning: IT project plans are expected to need frequent updates, so it’s generally understood that planning will occur in cycles.
- Execution: During execution, the entire team, led by the project manager, works on the tasks laid out in the project plan, with the ultimate goal of creating the project’s deliverables. According to TechTarget, “the project can shift to project planning as needed throughout project execution.”
- Monitoring: As TechTarget explains, the IT project manager “monitors and controls the work for the time, cost, scope, quality, risk, and other factors of the project.”
- Closing: This occurs at the end of each phase and the end of the project. It ensures all work has been completed and approved and ownership transfers from the project team to operations.
IT project managers face unique challenges
IT projects come with an array of complex challenges. Even seemingly simple, straightforward projects tend to get more complicated thanks to factors such as:
- Changing or unclear client priorities
- Unforeseen relationships among hardware, software, networks, and data
- Technological updates and advancements that occur in the middle of the project
- Infrastructure changes that impact data security and management
IT projects are also unique in that they frequently bring together groups of people who have never worked together before. On top of that, IT team members working on a project may have a high level of technical expertise. Still, they may not be skilled at translating that technical knowledge into simple language easily understood by non-IT staff. This, along with the other challenges, is why great communication and leadership from the IT project manager are critical. As Learn.org explains: “Good IT project managers have fine coordination and leadership skills to keep their teams working together.”