A project manager is an individual who is responsible for planning, organizing, managing, and completing small business or enterprise projects. Learn more about what a project manager does and how to become one here.
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What Is a Project Manager?
Virtually every industry from healthcare to manufacturing requires the support of professional project managers to manage projects. However, information technology (IT) is a common industry for project managers, as many IT projects are complex and require dedicated oversight.
Project managers within IT roles are tasked with ensuring IT projects are completed successfully. Projects may include web development, software implementation, app development, computer networking, and other initiatives that include multiple steps and workflows.
Project managers are involved throughout the lifecycle of projects, from planning to execution and completion. These individuals are especially important in IT because they ensure projects don’t cause serious network downtime or otherwise severely impact business operations.
What Do Project Managers Do?
Project managers are responsible for managing each stage of a project, from initial planning to closing. During the planning stage, an IT project manager works with the IT team to solidify project goals, determine budgets, define project scope, create schedules, and prepare both employee and monetary resources.
After a project begins, the project manager is tasked with managing the project team, updating stakeholders on project progress, mitigating issues and concerns, and ensuring key milestones are met.
Once a project reaches completion or “close,” the project manager reviews all work for accuracy, completes final reports, closes any third-party contracts if required, and gathers insights about what processes can be tweaked to improve future projects.
How to Become a Project Manager
People who are interested in becoming project managers can take various paths to enter the field. The necessary steps will depend on the individual’s career goals, chosen industry, and existing professional skills and experience.
Education and Certification Requirements for Project Managers
Many aspiring project managers start by obtaining a project management diploma or degree. Colleges often offer certificate programs in project management as well as more formal associate and bachelor’s degree programs.
In IT, it’s common for project managers to have a strong educational background or work experience in tech niches such as computer science. This is due to the technical nature of IT-related projects. Other common educational backgrounds include engineering or engineering management, business administration, and organizational management.
Project Management Certifications
Industry-specific certifications also help aspiring project managers to sharpen and showcase their project management skills. And for some employers, certification is a requirement. There are various certifications to choose from, including:
- PMP: The Project Management Professional certification is offered through the Project Management Institute. It’s considered the gold standard for those interested in a project management career.
- CAPM: The Certified Associate in Project Management certification is also offered through the Project Management Institute. However, the CAPM is an entry-level certification, great for project managers who are just getting started.
- CSM: The Certified ScrumMaster certification is offered through Scrum Alliance and is a solid choice for project managers who want to be certified in agile practices.
Skills Project Managers Should Have
Project managers within the IT industry should be able to comfortably use a wide variety of enterprise software and understand technical concepts. They should also possess the following soft skills:
- Strong communication skills with peers, stakeholders, and team members
- Quick conflict resolution capabilities
- Critical thinking to solve complex project problems
- Comfort with leading and team-building toward bigger goals
Tools that Project Managers Use
Project managers use a range of tools to perform their routine job tasks. They need tools to communicate with teams, plan project milestones, and manage other key components of a complex workflow.
It’s common for project managers to use project management software for everything from tracking time and managing tasks to storing work files and preparing Gantt charts. Some popular project management software solutions include Trello, Basecamp, monday.com, and Asana, but there are also many open source, free, and custom-build options on the market for different team needs.
Learn about other top project management solutions here: Best Project Management Software