Daria Diadenko, Content Writer

3 November 2021

Project Manager in IT: Envy or Sympathy

According to the Talent Gap report, the global economy needs 25 million new project professionals by 2030, which means 2.3 million people will have to enter project management-oriented positions every year to keep up with demand – an excellent opportunity to start an enviable career. But it is crucial to remember that trends are not the only reason to make quick decisions in life. Let's see how the PM's everyday life looks like, what are the PM's roles, responsibilities, difficulties, and if it’s possible to become a PM in a short time without any technical background. And if you understand that this is your career path scenario, do not hesitate to join the PM community. If not, do not envy or sympathy — look for what is really yours.

When is a project manager wanted?

We need to define what ‘a project’ is first of all, because we don`t need any project manager without it. In simple words: a project is something that has limited resources, limited time, and a unique product as a result.  

If the product is not unique we just need a person who can manage the production of equal things. For example, we need a PM for creating a new smartphone, but we don’t need him/her to produce thousands of them.

Agile PM vs. Traditional PM

We need to admit that the old “waterfall” software development method leaves a lot to be desired. Traditional PM relied on phases like outlining the requirements, planning, design, building, testing, and delivery. Agile methodology, by contrast, is a people-focused, results-focused approach to software development: flexible, fast, and aims for continuous improvements in quality, using tools like Scrum. It is easy to learn and implement; we see the student’s progress on the Project Management in IT course at Beetroot Academy. They gained sufficient knowledge to take a test and receive an international Scrum master certificate on Scrum.org over four months.

Who does the PM work with?

PM works together with a client (or customer), DevOps team, and an outsource/out-staff company. Each of them sees their own roles and roles of others differently. That’s a problem to solve.

DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development and IT operations.

Outsourcing company is responsible for the entire project support.

Outstaffing company is responsible for hiring and maintaining a software development team.

How does the tech company usually see developers? They are like marathon runners: they work hard ‘to finish’ with the best results.

Photo: Google Search Gallery

How does the company see a project manager? As a person who relaxes 80% of time and wastes company`s money.

Photo: Google Search Gallery

How do developers feel inside the company? Like nobody appreciates their hard work.

Photo: Google Search Gallery

A PM understands the perception of all three actors and can represent each point of view during negotiations. A project manager is that person who can explain what everyone does, bring their value most efficiently, and find a common language with a company, a team, and a client. 

Speaking of the project manager’s qualities

A good PM fits into the deadline, the scope of the tasks and the budget

That is how we evaluate if the project is successful or not. There are some tricks to meet these criteria and set a proper relationship with a client. It's better to finish the project 2 days earlier than a deadline, do one extra task, or even save some client’s money. Plan these tricks, and that will bring added value to your work. 

...and make the team and the client happy

The PM's global goal is to give everyone what they want. Usually, a client wants to get the project for its lowest price and with the cheapest technologies. The cheapest technologies mean it is easy to support and maintain this project. What does the team want? It always wants something interesting, new features and new technologies, that is most popular and more expensive today. It’s pretty hard to balance between new technology for the highest and lowest rate and between new and old technology, trying to find some solution to satisfy all of them. The most important thing that project managers, as true leaders, should build from the start is telling the truth to clients or the team. Empathy is the key to success.

PM works with objections, conflicts and risks

 A daily routine that you will usually be doing in your workplace is when you come to a developer and ask him to add/change something or fix bugs or do some extra work. Mostly you will get NO-answer. You need to learn how to work with objections and conflicts. First of all, you should find out what the real complaints are and solve the problem. Maybe he/she's afraid of something, or an introvert, or a person who doesn't want to spend more time at work and wants to go to the bar or with friends. 

It’s also essential to make sure that people communicate boldly to work with risks. Sometimes developers overestimate or underestimate themselves. It is great to see results before the deadline. Everyone becomes nervous if nothing is done instead of 5 days at the end of the second month.

…and all the difficulties

One of the most challenging things, when something goes wrong, is to switch the attention of a customer, management from blaming developers, or when DevOps blame QAs. So the PM should stay focused and look for a solution instead of blaming someone. Looking for a guilty person is always a failure while looking for the solution shows your responsibility and willingness to reach the target. 

50/50?

There is always a question of a better project manager: is it one with or without a technical background? From time to time, technical project managers could write code, fix bugs, or even cover developers. Non-technical project managers, scrum masters, account managers know nothing about programming, but they know the psychology, can manage teams and set processes. Both have the same chances to work in tech companies, the challenge to accept is to be a kind of interpreter from non-technical to technical language and vice versa.

If you do not have a technical background, starting an IT career with development is not the only way. One can code, or one can manage. The Project Management course at Beetroot Academy will skill you in organizing teams, building complex processes, working with agile principles, and being that interpreter.

So what does the PM exactly do?

PM gathers requirements, estimates and evaluates tasks, writes documentation, sets tasks, does quality control, monitors deadlines, and presents the client’s product.  But...quite often, PMs are sales and discuss the price with the client, or quality assurance, who tests the project to make sure that everything works properly, or a little bit of a marketing specialist and designer. It's common when the client's wife, son, or daughter is a designer or marketing specialist, and they know ‘better’ what to do. PM could also be a business intelligence analyst who calculates profit or even an HR person to ensure that a person will fit the team.

So...meet the ideal PM — it is Superman. He/she is a communicator (interpreter), psychologist, negotiator, leader, time manager and tech specialist at the same time.

Photo: Google Search Gallery

Final Thoughts

That is what a PM looks like in practice, not in theory. It’s a challenging but exciting job. If you read that text and got inspired, not frightened, take a quick test to make sure that being PM is your nearest future. 

If yes, join Project Management in IT course at Beetroot Academy on November 16.