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IT project manager

Plans, monitors and controls information technology projects.

Job description

IT project management is part project management, part technology operations and part general management. IT project managers plan, organise, and integrate cross-functional information technology projects that are significant in scope and impact.

They coordinate the work of other IT professionals and administrative staff to produce a new piece or system of software. The core elements of the job are about organising people and time resources, and seeing the project through from inception to completion. Project managers have ultimate responsibility for meeting the business’s or client’s needs.

Work activities

  • Developing project plans, goals, and budgets; identifying resources needed
  • Developing schedules and methods for measuring results
  • Guiding and performing strategic analysis for the project
  • Organising and managing all phases of the project to ensure on-time completion
  • Assembling and coordinating project team members; assigning individual responsibilities
  • Preparing requests for proposals and conducting all necessary meetings to facilitate selection of project services and products
  • Planning and overseeing the preparation and dissemination of project communications.

Work conditions

Travel: can be frequent, particularly if working at consultancy level. Working hours: mainly 9 to 5 but deadlines may require additional hours to be worked.
Location: opportunities exist mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: freelance consultancy work is possible.

Typical employers

This role could be required in any type of business, but is particularly relevant in:

  • Technology companies
  • Financial services companies
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Utilities
  • Retail/distribution
  • Educational institutions.

Career development

Career development will require continually developing and upgrading a diverse skills portfolio, with a focus on technical specialties, projects and business operations. It may require frequent job movement to widen experience. Project managers often move into consultancy after they have gained several years’ experience.

Salaries

Pay can rise considerably with experience and responsibility. Sometimes there is a shortage of specific software skills and salaries can rise according to supply and demand.

Entry requirements

Project management does not require strong technical skills, as the emphasis is very much on management, organisational and people skills. However, most project managers have programming or engineering backgrounds; this helps to lend them more credibility with technical team members and equips them better when interfacing with clients.

While entry is open to non-graduates, preference is likely be given to those with relevant degrees, training and/or experience.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Software engineering/development
  • Computer programming
  • Computing
  • Information technology
  • Business
  • Management
  • Engineering.

Postgraduate study

Conversion courses are available for non IT graduates. A range of industry-relevant taught postgraduate programmes are on offer across colleges that offer similar programmes at undergraduate level.

Specific entry requirements

Positions are not normally available as entry level jobs; usually graduates need to have at least three or four years’ experience before becoming full-time project managers.

Training

Mainly in-house though a number of generic project management courses are available.

Tips for applications

Gain relevant experience particularly during summer vacations. Become familiar with relevant industry software.

Skills and qualities

Labour market information

The National Skills Bulletin (2009) reported a skills shortage of experienced computer systems managers. There are indications of a decline in traditional IT employment (eg programmers and tech support analysts) and a corresponding growth in management positions, including project managers.