Career as an IT project manager

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Paul Jones is an IT project manager. He is responsible for bringing together teams and managing budgets. He also oversees the development of new applications, or the upgrading of existing ones, for various companies.

Can you describe your role as an IT project manager?

I manage IT projects for banks, typically creating new web-based applications or improving their existing systems. An IT project begins with a set of requirements from the client and then involves steering the work through the design, build and testing phases. Each project normally lasts from six months to a year.

What are your main responsibilities?

I have to ensure each project is a success. 'Success' to some clients might mean an increase in the number of customers using a system, or an improvement in the quality of that system.

To get these results, I have to propose solutions to the client, and agree and manage the budgets and resources for the entire life of the project. I also manage the design teams to make sure we get results on time and to a high standard.

What does a typical project involve?

My work starts with planning timescales, resource requirements and budgets. Then, the project team is created, which involves interviewing potential team members. Once the team has been created, the real project work begins, and my work is then about team management.

Finally, towards the end of the project, it is my responsibility to produce the final project reports and hand over the completed application to the client.

What hours do you work?

I work around 45 hours a week, with occasional weekend work and the potential for long commutes on Mondays and Fridays. However, we do have a policy that states you should not leave your home before 7.00am on Monday and should return by 7.00pm on Friday.

What is your working environment like?

The work is typically on the client site, which can be anywhere across Europe or even the world. I do have a base office, but rarely work there as I am always on client sites.

Who do you work with?

It's an ever-changing mix of client staff and colleagues. Colleagues can be from all parts of the company, ranging from those based in the same office as me to those working in other offices around the world. At the moment, I am working with colleagues from our Indian offices.

What skills are needed for a career as an IT project manager?

Technical knowledge can be invaluable in planning and managing projects. A large part of the work involves interacting with both junior members of the team and more senior client staff, so you need to be able to communicate effectively both in person and in writing.

Why did you choose your career as an IT project manager?

It gives me the chance to work with many different organisations without changing jobs. I get a constantly changing environment, but the continuity of working for the same company.

What are the main challenges?

The deadlines required are always challenging to meet. Assembling a team can also be a challenge, as you have to try and get a good mix of people, all with the right skills and experience.

How do you see your future?

I see the projects I work on getting bigger and better as I gain more project management experience.

Paul's route to his career as an IT project manager

  • Degree in Computer Science.
  • Joined Accenture in London.
  • Transferred to Manchester.

Paul's IT project manager tips

  • Working your way up through the different job levels/grades can give you a great advantage.
  • Some people are so keen to reach manager level that they don't really grasp what it's like to work under real pressure along the way.

IT Project manager related jobs

  • Business adviser
  • Business analyst
  • Management consultant
  • Manager
  • Quality manager
  • Systems analyst

Salary of an IT project manager

  • Starting salaries range from around £17,000 to £28,000 a year, depending on the size of company and your qualifications and experience.
  • Typical salaries for project managers with experience and in more senior positions range from around £40,000 to £80,000.

Career as an IT project manager

  • Most project managers have a degree, though not necessarily in a computing-related subject.
  • You should be able to show you understand how computing applications work within an organisation.
  • Some people may start with lower qualifications, such as an HND, and receive training in their company, but most employers want higher qualifications or proof of experience.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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