A project manager is a leader who can organize people, time, resources, and the process for completing projects. An information technology project manager has the same responsibilities plus an understanding of the rapidly changing IT industry. This understanding includes software creation, planning, and tech support.
What Does an IT Project Manager Do?
An IT project manager takes responsibility for the company’s specific IT projects and goals. Their jobs include overseeing the teams and personnel conducting the necessary tasks to complete goals, and reporting to the department heads.
The role of an IT project manager can be varied depending on the companies they work for. Their job responsibilities might include
- Software or App Development: An IT project manager oversees the development teams, HR (for hiring or outsourcing programmers), marketing and other service departments. The IT project manager also coordinates with platformers to ensure the software or app would be compliant with existing software programs.
- Hardware Installation and Upgrades: Whether in-house or company-wide, equipment installation and upgrades are necessary. The IT project manager synchronizes department downtimes, arranges training on new hardware, oversees the actual installations and provides time and resources for troubleshooting and debugging.
- IT services: The IT project manager is responsible for coordinating their department so that all their staff are knowledgeable about the systems in use and can resolve issues with minimal downtime.
The IT project managers are the ones who will work with other project managers when a large corporate project is in the works and will need to coordinate with other departments for product design and rollouts.
IT Project Manager vs. Project Manager: What’s the Difference?
A project manager’s job entails leading their team in planning and executing a specific project. The project manager is responsible for the project’s scope, team, resources, budget, and success.
According to O*Net Online, an IT project manager’s work activities consist of:
- Managing IT projects or systems
- Collaborating the teams to resolve IT issues
- Collecting data regarding customer needs and requirements
- Analyzing system, network, or data security
- Identifying IT project resource requirements
- Preparing analytical reporting
While an IT project manager’s job can be very similar to that of a project manager, it may come with few challenges:
- Clients may be unfamiliar with resources available. The IT project manager’s job is to explain what is available and lead a client to the best option for their company.
- Rapidly changing technology or unexpected updates can pose a challenge. More than a few projects have been delayed because new operating systems required their software to be rewritten. It is an IT project manager’s responsibility to stay ahead of these changes and keep clients and department heads updated on how it will change any project deadlines.
- Hardware, software, and network requirements must all match. Programmers use different platforms for writing software, and their programs must meet the hardware capabilities and network requirements before the project can be completed. An IT project manager’s job is to ensure everyone’s specs are the same.
IT Project Manager Skills and Qualities
An IT project manager needs the same skills that any project manager would need, with a few extra tacked on. Before everything else, they are project managers and need to be able to manage their project and department.
An IT project manager needs to be able to manage their time and their team’s time. A common task is developing goals and plans to prioritize and complete assigned tasks. To do this effectively, an IT project manager needs to help the team coordinate as a group to accomplish tasks.
An IT project manager should be able to explain what is needed clearly and simply to their team what the requirements of a project include. They also need to promptly communicate to their bosses and clients about the project in a way everyone can understand. This may be via phone, email, or in meetings.
Because of the rapidly changing tech world and the risks involved in being behind the curve, an IT professional should be aware of all the latest advances and challenges in the cyber world. Taking the initiative to conduct research and obtaining relevant sources of information allows an organization to stay up to date on the information technology world and proactively protect themselves from any concerns that may arise.
The main difference between a project manager and an IT project manager is the need for technical knowledge. An IT project manager should have a strong understanding of computer systems to program, write software, and process information. A few tools used to do this, according to O*Net Online include:
- Database user interface and query software
- Project management software
- Web platform development software
- Data mining software
Practical application of technology means knowing how to apply principles, procedures, and equipment to deliver various goods and services.
Job Outlook and Salary Potential for An IT Project Manager
Based on recent projections, the tech sector is expected to continue growing 8-10% between 2021 and 2031, equating to approximately 34,700 job openings. That number pales in comparison to the projected global need for project management professionals, however. According to the Project Management Institute’s 2021 Talent Gap report, 25 million new project oriented professionals are needed by 2030, which requires 2.3 million new project management professionals to enter the workforce every year just to keep up with the demand.
Additionally, according to the Project Management Institute’s Salary Survey, 12th edition, the annual salary potential for a U.S. based project manager is $115,000. Annual salary potential among U.S. based respondents also increased depending on their tenure in a project management role, with an annual salary of $78,000 for project professionals with less than three years of experience to a median annual salary of $138,000 for professionals with more than 20 years of experience.
Project managers who earn certification also report higher earning potential. According to the report, survey respondents who held a Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification reported 16% higher median salaries on average than respondents without a PMP® certification. In the U.S., the annual salary of a project professional with a PMP® was $123,000.
Start Your Path to IT Project Management
Education requirements can vary by company, location, job role, and other factors, but there are many ways to set yourself apart if you aspire to an IT project management position.
An MBA in Project Management in Information Technology from Florida Tech is a great way to start. Along with business fundamentals, courses focus on emerging technologies, software life cycles, IT project management and other IT-specific management skills to help prepare professionals to master the diverse challenges of 21st century enterprise systems.