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10 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Deciding if a Technical Project Management Role is Right for You

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By: Olivia

December 29, 2016

In light of recent recognition of the Technical Project Management Skill Certification test’s popularity, I decided it may be wise to provide a closer look at how someone in a role such as this functions, and if making a transition into a similar position is right for you.Likewise, a recent post of mine listed project management as a top skill for 2017 as cited from various job portals like LinkedIn and Dice, so highlighting your traits to reflect this desirable skillset will be beneficial as well.From my research, strangely enough, a host of bloggers have used a variety of metaphors to describe the function of a project manager, comparisons to everything from basketball coach, to military commander, to orchestra conductor, to ER doctor. But I’ll spare you the cheesiness and break down what is at the heart of this job.Here’s the formal definition from PayScale:project-managment“The principal role of a technical project manager is to develop and maintain a technology project plan, which outlines a project's tasks, milestone dates, status, and allocation of resources to stakeholders and other interested parties. The technical project manager is responsible for clearly defining and quantifying each step, as well as establishing concrete deadlines for each project milestone and deliverable. To this end, they have must have a demonstrated ability to anticipate problems and to find resolutions before that problem can derail a major milestone or deliverable. Since the typical project has a long life cycle, the technical project manager handles all of the complex aspects of the project; these aspects may be subject to constant change to accommodate market and economic conditions that directly affect implementation costs, market viability, and the organization’s potential profit or loss on the project.”In summary, the Technical Project Manager is a hybrid communicator, QA analyst, and technical supervisor who is able to think like an IT professional because of their previous hands-on technical work, while simultaneously being able to disseminate critical information about any given project to a variety of constituent groups.Of the responsibilities of a Technical PM, some of the most critical include assessing risks, assisting with problem solving, estimating project deadlines and costs, and allocating and monitoring the work amongst the team.“As you can see, good product managers need to juggle a myriad of tasks, teams, and priorities. They need to be effective communicators and technically adept, so they can interact with the development team and also speak clearly with customers and stakeholders,” lists, in their blog ‘A Day in the Life of a Software Project Manager,’ “They need to be big-picture thinkers, all while balancing customer expectations with business needs and budget and most importantly, they need to be persuasive!”While the role of a Technical Project Manager may seem overwhelming from the description alone, it does come with a wide range of benefits to both employers and employees.On the employer side of things, Technical Project Managers can often provide better project timelines and estimates, streamline the communication, functionality, and synergy between business and development.As for your own interests, those in this type of role are given the ability to interact with many different people, work on new, changing projects throughout their career, and in some cases, influence decision making.An added benefit is the pay. A recent estimate on salary from our pals at PayScale put the pay for Technical Project Managers in the United States in the ballpark of $88K annually.Likewise, the International Data Corporation estimates “Businesses are expected to spend $2.1 billion annually on technology by 2019.”This is especially good news for those who work for a technology consulting firm in a Tech PM role, as less ‘techie’ businesses will dedicate more of their budget to bring in expertise from these outside sources in coming years.As far as the requirements of a Technical Project Management role is concerned, one should have at minimum a Bachelor’s degree in either management information systems, computer science, or another related engineering field. Usually, those moving into this position have 5-9 years of experience, although stand outs in their field may become PMs sooner. tech_pmTo enhance your resume, certifications that demonstrate that you have both the technical proficiency and management skills to successfully lead technical projects by utilizing well-known tools, techniques, and methodologies, like Cybrary’s Technical Project Management Skill Certification, are highly recommended.But, just because you meet those credentials does not mean you are an automatic fit for this position.So, here are 10 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Deciding if a Technical Project Management Role is Right for You:
  1. Are you okay with a schedule that does not fit the typical 9-5?
  2. Are you good at prioritizing tasks, or do you struggle to decide what’s most important?
  3. As a follow up to the previous question- can you easily set a deadline and communicate what is needed by that deadline?
  4. Are you a generally inquisitive person whose comfortable asking questions to better understand a process?
  5. If a project gets behind schedule, do you easily work alongside your team to find a solution or help pick up the slack if needed?
  6. Are you flexible due to feedback, or do you find yourself bound tightly to whatever guidelines you set at the project’s inception?
  7. Do you feel comfortable communicating with superiors, especially when you must deliver bad news?
  8. Are you able to judge your team member’s performance in a fair manner, accounting for both personality traits and technical skills?
  9. Are you a well-organized person by nature or do you rely heavily on outside tools like task managers to get through your day?
  10. Do you enjoy fulfilling a mentorship type role, or do you find it to be a hassle?
If for 7 out of 10 of these questions, you answered YES to the whole question or first part of the statement, then it seems you’re on the right path.For those of you who aren’t quite there yet, checkout these awesome videos: 5 Common Mistakes of Project Managers, Part 1 & Part 2.Whether it seems you have the skillset of a PM readily available now or need a bit more work, a transition to this role won’t happen overnight, so any additional time and study you can dedicate to your craft, the better.I recommend trying the previously mentioned Technical Project Management Skill Certification course, through which professionals become familiarized with all stages of project management including initiating, planning, execution, and monitoring/controlling in the context of IT projects.To help you stay under budget, here’s a code for half off your next skill certification test: OBLOG50.oliviaOlivia Lynch is the Marketing Manager at Cybrary. Like many of you, she is just getting her toes wet in the field of cyber security. A firm believer that the pen is mightier than the sword, Olivia considers corny puns and an honest voice essential to any worthwhile blog.
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