9 qualities of a top IT project manager
Due to the enormous increase in the digitalisation of organisations worldwide, there is strong demand for IT project managers to lead companies through the process on time and on budget. With today’s high number of experienced IT project managers, competition is tough in this employer-led market. So how do you stand out and make sure employers choose you above your peers? Here are nine of the qualities employers look for when they’re hiring an IT project manager.
From the outset, an IT project manager needs to have a clear vision on how they’re going to tackle the project. Visionary leaders enable people to feel that they have a real stake in the project. Will they opt for an agile or waterfall methodology? How can they ensure project delivery success and be on time and on budget? Who will be needed and when? All of these are questions a visionary leader will be thinking of at all times to ensure the project is a success.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) recommends that a project manager should spend 90 per cent of their time communicating. Clear communication around goals, responsibilities, performance, expectations and feedback are essential for successful project leadership. A good IT project manager also has the ability to persuade and negotiate with key stakeholders to ensure successful delivery of the project.
A positive attitude goes a long way when trying to motivate a team of people. This optimism is contagious and can help build a can do culture within the IT team increasing productivity and moving one step closer to successful project delivery.
A good IT project manager understands that there is more to life than work. Although tight deadlines make time precious and build pressure amongst the team, spending time making sure people are happy and motivated is important for morale. The ability to be empathetic really helps to build trust within the team, improving relationships between the IT project manager and the team and can often result in getting that extra 10% from people when it really matters.
Within IT project management there is a clear need to understand the technologies being used by the IT team. Project managers with a technical background will naturally have this knowledge but those from a pure project management background can gain this from working on similar projects. In addition, being qualified in things like PRINCE2 and Scrum will help you call upon this technical knowledge at times of debate and gain respect from your peers.
Being able to delegate is a fundamental skill in effective project management. An IT project manager needs to be aware of the abilities of their team, and their respective workloads to ensure they delegate to the right person at the right time.
Almost every project has to overcome a multitude of hurdles and an IT project manager needs to maintain their composure under increasing pressures from stakeholders across the business and sometimes externally. The ability to bounce back and treat these problems and challenges with interest and excitement really differentiates an average IT project manager from a great one.
The best project managers have the ability to keep team spirit levels high, which not only makes for a positive working environment but also increases productivity and quality of output. An IT project manager needs to be able to take their team along a journey and keep them together and focused at challenging times to ensure that they meet the right objectives at the right times.
Problem solving is part and parcel of project management and is a crucial quality that successful IT project managers need to possess. This can involve understanding complexities that fall out of the IT project manager remit. The ability to react to these problems and work with others across the business and within their team to solve them without ‘rocking the boat’ is a key quality to possess.
It takes a good mix of skills to be successful in IT project management - some of which are more innate like the ability to solve problems and some which you can learn like technical knowledge of systems and project management methodologies. And once you've built your skill set, the challenge is to demonstrate these strengths in an interview. Read more about our interview advice here.
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