As the name alone would suggest, an IT Project Manager is someone who serves as a Project Manager in a highly IT-based company, most typically in start-ups and enterprises of which core product is software.
But an IT Project Manager job description can actually vary depending on who you ask. A person who was successful in this role in one company, might be presented with relatively different requirements in another.
That’s why, before proceeding with the list of top 10 must-have skills that every IT Project Manager should have, let’s answer the question that should come first…
What does an IT Project Manager do?
Here are some of the most typical responsibilities of an IT Project Manager:
- Preparing technical documentation.
- Working directly with the technical team to gather new ideas for the project, researching them, recommending, and — when needed — initiating their implementation.
- Monitoring current expenses. Making sure they follow the initial plan.
- Setting deadlines and coordinating the launches of each software iteration (including alphas, betas, 1.0).
- Coordinating exchange of feedback between the tech teams (e.g. devs, QA) and other teams/stakeholders/clients.
- Assigning specific tasks to specific technical team members.
- Identifying when new hires or other types of resources are necessary.
If you would like to summarize the IT Project Manager job description in one sentence, you would most commonly say that:
IT Project Manager’s job is to make sure that the technical teams working on the project are delivering on time and within the budget set.
Most important skills of an IT Project Manager
So what skills to look for when you want to hire a Project Manager that will specifically focus on the work of your tech teams?
Good understanding of software development concepts
While an IT Project Manager won’t code or do any other specifically technical tasks, they will be doing software development project management. This means that having a general idea of some specific IT concepts is crucial. We would consider important especially the knowledge of:
a) Differences between various programming languages.
b) What frameworks and libraries are.
c) What back-end is, what are the typical tasks done on the server side of software.
d) What QA is responsible for, what different types of tests can be performed.
e) Basics of system administration.
Familiarity of technical jargon
When working closely with engineers, understanding the technical language they use is crucial to healthy cooperation. If you are a member of a different team and contact developers sporadically, they probably can explain to you some concepts using non-technical language. However, an IT Project Manager works with devs on a day-to-day basis, meaning knowledge of their jargon is a must — it leads to the project being run smoothly and with no unexpected issues happening.
It’s also important for the IT Project Manager to be able to later translate technical concepts into a language easily understandable by stakeholders, members of other teams, and the clients themselves.
Knowledge of average costs in IT
Making a decision of whether a technology can be implemented for the specific project is something an IT Project Manager must take responsibility for. While researching costs is a common practice, a good PM should have a solid understanding of what is and what isn’t doable, so useless ideas can be left aside before any time is wasted on reviewing them.
Costs, in this case, are not only about money, but also about the time needed to implement a technology.
Data analytics skills
There is always a lot of research going on during a typical day of an IT Project Manager. Most of it is about forecasting: Will this technology work for us in the long run? Is our budget big enough to handle hiring one more developer?
All these questions need specific data to be answered. And while probably no one will ask an IT Project Manager to build a script in Python that will gather and analyse the data by itself, extensive knowledge of how to handle spreadsheets, how to consume data, or how to present it to others is a must-have for a technical PM.
Experience of working in agile environment
Most technical teams these days operate making use of the agile management style and other relevant methodologies, such as Scrum, Kanban, or DevOps. In order to work really closely with the developers and to build lasting relationship between them and the IT Project Manager, a PM should have previous experience in working with agile teams.
Focus on actual project management
IT Project Managers often have background in software development. This means that from time to time they may want to directly participate in the activities of a team managed, e.g. by coding, testing, or doing other technical tasks.
This, however, should not be done. Good IT Project Manager should focus strictly on project management, as any other responsibilities interrupting their job might lead to a failure in delivering the project on time and within the planned budget.
Experience in working with clients
While an IT Project Manager is working within a company and especially within the tech team, they often also face clients. This happens especially in companies working on B2B solutions, such as various agencies or software houses.
A role like this requires experience in working with people outside of the company the PM is hired at. Expert communication skills, multitasking skills, and knowledge of good pitching is something that every IT Project Manager must possess in order to face clients effectively and make sure the projects are delivered with both sides ending up satisfied.
Expert time management
IT Project Manager cannot just sit at their desk for the whole day in order to figure out the best strategy. Their day is filled with meetings with people in various roles. Each of them wants to understand the project’s current status and each needs a different explanation of what exactly is going on.
This means that an IT Project Manager needs to be able to make the most of out their typical day schedule.
Ability to say NO when needed
Finding a free minute to finish one of the tasks assigned might be sometimes difficult, so being able to easily say NO is another important part of PM’s skillset.
Does the meeting really need to happen today? Do we need to solve this specific issue now? Do you have a minute for a quick chat?
If the answer to any of these questions is NO, an IT Project Manager must be able to say it to whoever is asking.
Establishing relationships easily
An IT Project Manager is often the first point of contact in terms of IT questions for people from different teams, but also sometimes from clients themselves. However, a good PM should be able not only to answer these questions, but also to ask questions themselves and receive answers from others when needed.
Being able to easily establish relationships with not only other managers, but also employees who are being managed by them, is important to achieving the most comprehensive overview of the company’s current status. An IT Project Manager should, of course, remember also about people working on their project: devs and other members of the technical team. Building trust and understanding between a manager and his team members is crucial to the project's success.
Setting up a future-proof team
Project managers may help you lead your project and company in the right direction, however, you also need other IT experts to take care of the more technical aspects of developing a successful product. Your priority should be people like developers and designers, but you might also want to invest in product owners, data engineers, or AI experts.
To get all of these necessary IT professionals hired in the most efficient way, contact us at Ideamotive. Thanks to the extended network of top IT talents we’ve developed, we are able to connect you with people experienced in your industry and the type of product you are developing.
Wherever you are based and whatever are your exact requirements, we are able to get you the exact IT professionals you need.