IT Project manager

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Colin Martin works as a project manager for an IT solutions company based in Northern Ireland that specialises in creating web-based services for large-scale companies and organisations. He is responsible for pulling together all the various services required to complete a project for a client.

What does your job involve?

I am responsible for planning, controlling and monitoring a project from start to finish. This means taking a brief from a client, working out the best way to supply the product and organising the various tasks to be done. My overall responsibility is to make sure the work is completed correctly, on time and within the agreed budget.

What are your routine tasks?

Initially, I establish what resources, such as professional services, finance and time, are needed to complete the project. I identify the various tasks and use a critical path analysis computer program to produce a schedule of events that will help me to identify when the key areas need to be finished in order to complete the project in time.

I assemble a team of specialists, allocate the various tasks and resources and agree a timetable of work. My main task then is to monitor progress and I do this by holding various meetings to discuss the specific work and deal with any problems that can affect any deadlines.

What is a typical project you have completed?

I have just finished a two-year project building an e-commerce website and business accounting package for a group of chemical manufacturers and retailers.

I managed a team of specialists, which included IT technicians, website designers, accountants and support staff, who all had their specific tasks to complete. I held regular meetings with the client to assess progress as well as with the team members to sort out any problems. Towards the end of the project, I had to organise a series of user groups for testing the website facilities and the accounting functions.

What do you like about your present job?

Ultimately, my role is managing professional people. I enjoy making decisions and get a thrill out of putting together the work output from all the separate members of the team to make it all happen.

What skills and qualities do you need?

You need to be an excellent negotiator and communicator – as a project manager you only achieve success through the efforts of the team members who provide the professional inputs. In addition, you must be calm and analytical under pressure and in stress situations as well as having excellent people skills.

What training have you received?

Since working here I have been on one or two specialist IT courses as well as training in some computer project management programmes such as timesheet and workflow management. I do not need specialist IT or accountancy qualifications as I can buy in these resources and services from other specialist companies when needed. I have a sales and marketing background and this has proved useful when meeting prospective clients.

What challenges do you face at work?

The main challenge is getting the work done on time. In addition, I have to be quite diplomatic at times getting every team member to work to the same time frame.

Do you have any plans for the future?

I would like to have a managerial position in a company at some stage. As a project manager you get involved in many managerial tasks such as business accountancy, human resources, sales and marketing.

Colin's route

  • Degree in Media Studies
  • Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM) Diploma in Marketing.
  • Masters in Business Administration (MBA) part time.
  • Sales manager for IT company.
  • Project manager.

Colin's tips

  • If you've got an enquiring nature and like problem-solving, then this job is for you.
  • Try to show prospective employers any experience you have of working in a team environment.

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Salary information

  • Salaries for project managers vary depending on the type and size of the business and projects involved.
  • A new project manger can earn around £20,000 to £25,000, rising to £35,000 or more with experience.
  • Senior project managers/heads of department can earn from £35,000 to £60,000 and more.

Getting in

  • It is possible to become a project manager without having specialist project management qualifications provided you have knowledge and experience of the specific sector involved.
  • It helps if you have a background in business IT, engineering, science or construction.
  • Project management degrees and postgraduate qualifications, some of which include work placements, are offered at several UK universities.
  • Some courses focus on project management within specific industries such as IT, engineering or construction.
  • The Association for Project Management offers an Introductory Certificate in Project Management, plus Association of Project Management and Certified Project Management qualifications.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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