What does an IT Project Manager do? What are they responsible for and what competences should they have?

The customer is pushing for another round of changes in the application, while developers have their schedules filled with tasks for the next several weeks. The solution delivery date is approaching and the project is balancing on the edge of profitability. You need to find a solution quickly – stay calm and reconcile the interests of all parties. This is a task for a Superman… or an IT Project Manager.

The Project Manager is an important part of any team in the IT environment – they are expected to make all the parts work more efficiently. They are the person who connects employees, management and the client, takes care of budgets, deadlines, problem solving and reporting. A person in this position combines the competences of many different professionals: from police mediator, through psychologist to software engineer.

 

Goals, deadlines and priorities

“You make your own bed” is an old saying that every PM should keep in mind. Their biggest enemy is poor work organization – without clearly described goals, value delivered to the customer, deadlines to be met or priorities. At first it may not seem to be crucial, but in the long run it will lead to misunderstandings that will jeopardize the success of the project. We do not need specific examples to comprehend the possible consequences – if a task is not described properly, the engineer may understand it in a different way than the client. In the worst case, this will lead to writing off some of the work.

 

Responsibilities of the IT Project Manager

The IT Project Manager must ensure proper understanding of the problem their team is solving. They should set goals, the MVP (minimum viable product) scope, describe milestones and success criteria of the project. This exercise also helps the client who at the beginning may not be aware of many elements that are part of the solution. After all, sometimes the Project Manager deals with a business sponsor, not a technical person.

 

How to control a project in the IT industry?

The only thing we can be sure of besides taxes is change. Changes happen even in the best managed projects and every Project Manager must be prepared for them – especially if the client likes to change the requirements frequently. It is not so bad if they are limited to the appearance, worse if they reach the architecture of the solution.

 

Scope creep

The so-called “scope creep”, or adding more elements to the scope of the solution is also a challenge for the IT Project Manager. The client may not fully understand the application or system and only after getting acquainted with the  MVP (minimum viable product) realize that something is missing.

The Project Manager then has a hard nut to crack. On the one hand they cannot be inflexible and create a useless product. On the other hand, they should not allow themselves and their company to be taken advantage of. Therefore, the key element here is knowledge of how priorities change, what can be “cut” from the project, and what must stay. Are the new requirements based on existing services or do they        require building something from scratch?

In real life “scope creeps” cannot always be avoided. The IT Project Manager should also be able to make decisions in the face of growing demands from stakeholders. They are the person responsible for turning the changes in the specification into a solution that will provide more value to the customer.

 

Risk management – the everyday work of the Project Manager

Project risk is treated in a similarly negative way. Nobody likes it, and it is absolutely necessary to keep it under control – especially in crisis situations. Let’s imagine that the key developer needs to take a sick leave and there is no one to replace them. On top of that, the Product Owner still has not answered questions about the security of the application, and the client is demanding a report and confirmation of next week’s demo.

Some of such events need to be planned for and you need to monitor the situation to be able to step in at the right moment. A ready plan of action transforms a risk into a business decision. Crisis situations are not only to be prevented – they must also be managed.

Teams on both the company and customer side should be aware of the likelihood of crises. Business is about risk, and focusing on fulfilling that risk can lead to products that are already outdated at the time of their release.

 

The Project Manager is a multi-instrumentalist

These couple of examples show that the Project Manager must excel in many different roles and change communication strategies depending on the audience. They play the role of the leader who sets the direction, removes obstacles and motivates the team. They are the link between business and IT, driving the project from beginning to end. This does not end with the delivery of the solution. Afterwards, it’s time to draw conclusions that will allow you to plan with more precision and make better decisions in the future.

Do you want to become a Project Manager? Don’t wait – see our job offers.

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