What is project management?
Project management is the practice of applying processes and techniques to initiate, plan, manage and deliver specific projects to achieve their goals on schedule and on budget. Project management personnel will typically utilise various methodologies and tools as part of the process.
Project management is a rapidly growing field and the profession has developed significantly over the past two decades. Experienced project managers will find themselves in high demand as more organisations understand the importance of well-managed projects.
What does a project manager do?
A project manager is responsible for planning and overseeing projects within an organisation, from the initial ideation through to completion. They coordinate people and processes to deliver projects on time, within budget and with the desired outcomes aligned to objectives.
Project managers also act as a point of liaison between the project team and senior management. They use project management tools such as Microsoft Project to plan, monitor and regularly report to stakeholders on the progress of the project.
A key part of a project manager's role is to identify and mitigate risks which may impact successful delivery of projects.
Project manager responsibilities
- Defining project objectives, project scope, roles & responsibilities.
- Defining resource requirements and managing resource availability & allocation – both internal and third party.
- Outlining a budget based on requirements and tracking costs to deliver project on budget.
- Preparing a detailed project plan to schedule key project milestones, workstreams & activities.
- Managing delivery of the project according to this plan.
- Tracking project and providing regular reports on project status to project team and key stakeholders.
- Managing and adjusting for any changes in project scope, schedule and / or budget.
- Identifying and mitigating potential risks.
- Managing the relationship and communication with the client and all stakeholders, ensuring the project is delivered to their satisfaction.
What skills does an IT project manager need to have?
- IT project managers require strong technical skills and a solid understanding of software development.
- Business & commercial acumen and excellent stakeholder management skills are also essential.
- Analytical skills are necessary in order to correctly identify risks and solve any problems which may arise throughout the project.
- Mathematical and budgeting skills.
- Good time management skills and the ability to juggle multiple tasks at once.
- A good communicator with effective stakeholder management & conflict resolution skills.
- Be a good team player and an effective leader who is able to motivate their project team.
Common project management terms
- Project plan
- Risk mitigation
- Gantt chart
- Change management
- Contingency plan
- Critical path
- Change request
- Change request
- Status report
- Business case
- Use case
What qualifications do IT project managers need?
A tertiary education in IT or computer science is beneficial to providing necessary technical knowledge to IT project management. There are also a number of recognised industry certifications, with PRINCE2 and the Project Management Institute (PMI) being the two main certifying bodies. The PMI offers a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification - the primary certification for professionals in the field of project management.
However, many project managers fall into the field without any formal education or certification in the field after being assigned to run a project and just hitting the ground running.
Great project managers must have strong familiarity with project management software tools, methodologies & best practices. They also need proven ability to deliver projects according to agreed scope, timeline & budget.
What is the career path for a project manager?
There are a number of different career paths an experienced project manager can pursue.
Who does a project manager report to?
The reporting lines for a project manager will vary depending on the scale of the project and organisation. In a smaller organisation they may report directly to senior management. However, in a larger organisation, they may report to a program manager, head of PMO or to the project sponsor.
How much does a project manager earn?
Depending on their level of experience and seniority, project managers can earn between AUD80k-180k per year in a permanent role, or AUD600-1000 per day as a contractor.