Being a great and high-performing PM is always a challenge. It is a tough job indeed. Not only one has to possess adequate tech expertise, but also a range of soft skills. Worse still, as usual, the education sector lags seriously behind.
As a result, many aspiring professionals have to learn by doing from their own mistakes. We have decided to write this post to offer our practice-oriented perspective on the profile of a strong IT project manager. We believe that such an employee would always be able to deliver proper development outcomes on time and within budget.
Software Development Methodologies
What is the top quality of a good IT project manager?
Is it about coding skills? No, it is not. Even though it is conducive when a PM can write or at least read the delivered code, it is not the main prerequisite.
Is it about methodologies? You are getting warmer. Indeed, one needs to know how projects are carried out. The minimum eligibility criteria nowadays include:
- Agile approach and Scrum as a framework transforming its principles into reality (by the way, this is how we work at Evercode Lab: specifically ScrumBan, that consists of the Scrum framework and Kanban (as a Lean approach)
- Rolling-wave planning on specific projects that implies breaking your scope down into consequential stages: starting from requirements, then through design, implementation, verification, and down to maintenance
- RUP (aka Rational Unified Process) segmenting the process into such stages as business modeling, analysis and design, implementation, testing, and deployment.
- PMI as a broader approach to project management for large-scale ventures
If you know the theoretical fundamentals of these methodologies and applied them in reality to some extent, you are qualified enough to try to be a good PM. However, it will take you more than these hard skills one can always learn and try.
A truly delivering PM must possess a range of soft skills. Without them, nothing will help an aspiring IT outsourcing project manager, neither code nor all the methodologies.
Soft Skills Rock
1. PM is a translator, negotiator, and, most importantly, mediator
As a PM you must be well-prepared to translate your customer’s wishes into a clear message communicated to developers. It sounds easier than it is. Quite often, the clients willing to outsource an IT project to your agency have no tech expertise to make themselves clear.
Your development talent pool, on the contrary, may have not enough knowledge of management and particular industries in general. As a result, you must be aware of the ever-present risks of misunderstandings and miscommunication.
2. PM is a ‘visionary’
In the truest sense of this word, you should be able to build a vision and ‘visualize’ it. That is to say, you need to be on close terms with charts, graphs, diagrams, you name it. Ideally, you must be always prepared to support every statement and process with visuals for greater mutual understanding.
3. PM is a ‘calculator’
Cost accounting is a frequent pain point for PMs. Customers are never happy to tolerate idle hours, so you need to be ready to provide them with comprehensive billing details compared with project deliverables. Correspondingly, you need to thoroughly master at least one of the popular project management tools and possess attention to detail. It may be boring, time-consuming, and painstaking. But this is still a must.
Questions to Ask Yourself
If you want to try your hand at project management, imagine a complex project and answer whether you can:
- Specify clear outcomes for each software development project stage
- Translate these outcomes into the language of customers and the language of developers
- Adjust these outcomes to the strategic goals of your IT outsourcing agency on the one hand and your customer on the other hand
- Choose the right people to deliver the outcomes, i.e. analyze their professional qualifications, strengths, and weaknesses
- Secure, nurture and maintain commitment from all the participants
- Be constantly well-informed about the progress of your project, which means you are to be informed not only about the ongoing activities but also on the delivered project outcomes
- Be ever-ready to modify the project plan for the sake of your customer, with no irritation and negative vibes
If your answer is yes, you certainly show the potential of being a delivering and high-achieving IT outsourcing project manager.