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THE LIFE OF AN IT PROJECT MANAGER

Friday 27th May 2016
Tags: guest blog
IT Project Managers are vital to any IT team. Have you ever wondered what exactly it is an IT Project Manager does? Are you aspiring to be a Project Manager? In this blog Ben Heap (an experienced Project Manager in the IT sector) answers some questions about the role of a PM and offers some tips to those looking to develop their career into a PM role...

 In your own words, what does a IT Project Manager do?
 IT itself is quite a broad subject, so if you're involved in an IT  project you could be doing anything from creating a mobile app,  to  rolling out a new operating system across your company's  desktops to installing a new electronic point of sale system in a  supermarket. Whatever you're doing though it's the Project  Management part of the job that people struggle to grasp. I  blame this  partly due to it's portrayal in the BBC show the  Apprentice. 

 As a Project Manager you are there believe it or not to Manage a Project. A project is unique, and has a defined start and end and it's  your job to make sure it happens. To manage it you're usually given objectives of delivering the project within a timescale, to a budget  and to a specific quality. Each of these vary in their importance depending on the project and as  a Project Manager you need to figure  that out and priorities the project accordingly.


 What’s your career journey so far?

 Following undertaking a business degree at the University of Bath I started out my Project Management career as a graduate project  manager for the Child Maintenance and Enforcement scheme (now called Child Maintenance Options) in Leeds. My projects there were a mixture of IT and business change. Since then I've worked on a mix of business change, IT and digital projects for Morrisons, StepChange Debt Charity, Capita, CDS Digital and most recently Attercopia. I've managed projects varying from the creation of an e-Learning platform for the British Army to help the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone to the creation of a Wine Review and Events blog website for a UK wine expert. It can be quite a varied career. I quite like that though.

What’s an average day like for you?
An average day involves a mixture of planning, communicating and reacting. In a perfect world this job would be easy. You'd get your project, draw up your plan, assign out the tasks to the team and let the client know every is going well before taking the rest of the day off. Unfortunately, this is far from reality. Something inevitably will happen that sends your plan off course. It could be anything from an unexpected additional request from a client to a team member becoming ill and not being able to finish a planned task. So as soon as you've drawn up that first pretty plan, you'll constantly be re-planning, re-prioritising and just trying to get everyone to the end safely.

What do you like most about being a IT Project Manager?
I love the fact that we get to make things happen. Usually the end of a project involves something being implemented that wasn't there before and when you look at it you get the pride of knowing that you were a big part of that change. I also love the variety. As all projects are unique, you never really know what is going to come up next, and how it's going to go. I like that, it makes things more exciting.

What attracts you/ IT Project Managers to a company?
First and foremost it's the type of projects that they'll be looking for me to manage. The more interesting the projects the more exciting the job. I also like it when a job describes that you won't just be managing projects but that you'll also be turning your head inwardly and looking at what improvements you can make to an organisations current processes and practices. As a project manager you need to have a certain love for reporting and documentation, but you also have to be able to know when it's unnecessary.

What are your top three tips for someone considering a career move as IT Project Manager?
1. Look at your personal life. If you're the kind of person that likes creating to do lists, loves organising and likes to make decisions, then it's probably a good career move for you.
2. You need to be prepared to face the fact that it's your job to make something happen when you yourself will not be doing any of the "happening", other people will. You need to get on with people
3. Love making things change, it's what we do!

If you would like some advice on a career in Project Management don't hesitate to get in contact with us, here.

Recent Comments
Great read Ben! Hope you're keeping well?!
Craig Quinn, 01 June 2016
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