How to become a technical project manager

Have you ever dreamt of becoming a technical project manager? Well, it’s not easy, as this is a high level in the IT field and the company management should be confident in your capabilities and skills.

A technical project manager is a specialist that manages the whole project. He must conduct all designing things and make correct priorities, planning task execution, monitoring, provide the team with good communication and team building, and of course operational problem-solving.

It’s a popular position in the IT-sphere, yet it is a non-technical position, but traditionally the major part of them are former developers and testers. So, for the search query “Project Manager” (in the fields of “information technology”, “software development” and “Internet technologies”), LinkedIn search base finds 2,905 people, of whom 1,467 (51%) are former technical specialists: 1,182 in the past the software engineer or developer and 285 testers or QA worked.

The main duty of a technical project manager is to bring the idea of the customer to implementation within the prescribed period, using existing resources. As part of this task, PM needs to build a development plan, organize the team, set up the project work process, providing feedback between the teams and the customer. At this position technical project management should also eliminate interference for the teams and at the same time control the quality, delivering the end product to the customer on time.

PM’s objectives can be classified as tactical and strategic. Tactical is the solution to everyday project problems, removing obstacles from the team’s path. Strategic is to coordinate the overall goal of the project, the path to it, as well as the speed of movement.

On the other hand, PM’s tasks can be grouped into 3 groups:

  • Achieving the goals of the project and the client (effective implementation of the task, ensuring a high level of customer satisfaction)
  • achieving the goals of the authorities and the company (financial indicators);
  • achieving the goals of team members (motivation, assistance in the implementation of career goals, conflict prevention).

The main challenge for PM’s is:“ We need this to work which means that the team will deliver the result in a reasonable time frame with a reasonable level of quality.”

Here is the list of main responsibilities of a technical project manager:

  • organizing all documentation for the project, project scheduling and terms coordination, analysis of possible risks;
  • splitting the project into main components;
  • prioritizing the tasks and distributing them to the team members;
  • setting the working process in a team and organizing all development and test processes;
  • tracking the workflows and progress of the project,
  • motivating all the team and keeping everything in order;
  • managing transparent communication between the team and the customer;
  • managing any conflict situations;
  • presentation to the customer of ready-made solutions, demo versions, prototypes.

A technical project manager obviously must have the understanding not only how project management works, but also everything about IT sphere, because you’ll have to find a common language with all team members: coders, developers, testers, data analysts and non-IT guys, who can also do the promotional stuff; and, secondly, you’ll have to have a clear understanding of what your customer wants, and often he or she also has the IT background, so it should be easy.

You must remember that there are small chances your future employer believe that knowledge of all the nuances and the whole understanding of IT-sphere as a specific one are not so important for the position of the project manager. So, if you don’t possess this knowledge, maybe you shouldn’t even try. Still, there always are some exceptions from the rule, and first, you need to know what exactly your employer wants from you.

It is very important in the IT-sphere to have at least basic understanding of all steps of product development, or Software Development Life Cycle, and to get it you need to work in IT company, as these are too specific things. And since the project manager in IT is responsible for the development of a product/code/ functional by a given date, with a given quality and within a given framework for quality/functionality, he must have a clear understanding of how to achieve it with all the means he has.

So, to become a technical project manager all you need is high proficiency in technical IT language and a general understanding of FTP, Sprint, Signoff,  ASAP, XML, Regression, Database request, FYI, Deadline, Redline, Client-Server Architecture, Smoke Test, and many other things. Besides the simple understanding, you also need to be a super expert in some of the things mentioned before, otherwise, it will be hard to reach the top.

 

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