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How to go from tech to project manager

By ramabrooks ·
I have spent the last 4 years as an IT tech. most of that time as a desktop tech and the last 6 months as a help desk tech. I have CompTIA A+ and Network+ plus I just recently earned an Associates of Applied Science Degree in CIS.

I am looking for other folks who have made the career change from tech to project manager to see how they did it. Currently I am studying for the CompTIA Project+ cert. Thanks.

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People Skills

by DellS In reply to How to go from tech to pr ...

One of the most difficult skills in PM for many techies to learn is the people skills. I'm not only talking about managing the people who are working on the project, but also the ability to discuss the project with the users - who usually aren't techies, don't know the acronyms, and don't "speak techie".

As a programmer/project manager, I see this as one of the most important skills that I bring to a project. I can listen to the users discuss what they need, ask a precise questions to find out what they really want, and actually hear what they're trying to say instead of putting a techie "spin" on it. This means that I come up with solutions that meet the users' needs and actually help them do really their jobs more efficiently. Too many techies (my experience is mostly with programmers...) want to include all the bells, whistles, and technically complex "gee-whiz" features they can, but don't pay attention to what the users need to actually do their jobs. If the users can't use the program/system upgrade/whatever the project was about to work more efficiently and actually get their jobs done, then the project has failed. Period.


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getting into project management

by yeoman In reply to People Skills

I have come across this forum rather late, and appreciate all the comments made to date. I started off as a software developer and sort of stumbled into project management. The contributors are absolutely right when they say that project management is quite different from technical skills. I am a Registered Project Manager (through the Australian Institute of Project Management) and other RegPMs are not in IT but in building construction, etc. Of course, understanding the technology does help you understand what is involved, the problems and sometimes the solutions.
I have attended a number of project management courses that covered various aspects of project management, but the most comprehensive one was based on PMBOK. PMBOK covers nine fundamental areas which a project manager might be involved in (?might? because one of them, procurement, is not always required).
To give you a flavour of it, the areas are
(1)scope ? sometimes the scope of a project has been defined when a PM starts on the project, but (s)he still needs to ensure it is defined
(2)schedule ? thus is based on estimates of the work required and delivery times. e.g., how long does it take to define business requirements, write specifications, code, test and implement? Or how long to get a tender out and for the vendor to deliver and commission equipment?
(3)Costs ? how much does this all cost?
(4)Quality ? what quality is required, and how do you ensure that is met?
(5)People management ? discussed already
(6)Communication ? not just within the team, but also to stakeholders (the project sponsor and other interested parties, including vendors and other teams which may be affected)
(7)Risks ? you need to identify what will threaten the success of your project and what steps you need to take to reduce or remove the risk or what you will do if the risk does eventuate
(8)procurement ? if the project involves purchasing anything
(9)integration of all these.
Someone mentioned PRINCE2. This appears to be an excellent process for the implementation of a project. I have used other processes which cover much the same ground. The ?process? covers what steps are required and what documentation is needed at each step (can't get away from the ?paperwork?).
Back to the original question of how to get into a PM role. The starting point has to be to get involved in a project as a team member. Look at what the PM does. Try to understand it. Talk to him/her if possible, explaining your ambition.
If you are a desktop support person you might be assigned mini-projects. A young person I am mentoring has been assigned several projects: rolling out a new version of Lotus Notes, upgrading desktops to Windows XP, upgrading email servers to Domino version 6, etc. Even if you do all the tasks yourself these are still projects.
Persuade your manager to send you on project management courses as that will help you do your job better or pay for them yourself. The former is preferable as it involves a recognition that you have started managing projects.
Hope this helps.

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being a PM is not a bed of roses...

by girishkay In reply to How to go from tech to pr ...

As a techie, by and large one is focussed on the technology, it's application and different technical challenges that come with using it in different applications/environments. As you grow along the tech line, there may be opportunities that you get to participate in preparation of an MPP and or in preparation of estimate.

Some people tend to incorrectly interpret this as project management.

Infact, Project management is a lot more. As a PM, we manage the expectations of different parties to the project - client, senior management, project team and ofcourse, support teams (finance, administration etc). It's challenge working with people and consistently managing their expectations from the project.

I love and enjoy it to the hilt. Transition from techie to PM is not for everyone. So, just think through well before you take the plunge.


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Tech to PM

by peter.langtry In reply to How to go from tech to pr ...

Try getting a role at a professional services firm or an integrator. You will then get more exposure to projects while usilising your technical skills.

Do a little study of PMBOK or PRINCE2 so you can understand it at a high level. Then as work on projects as a technical resource help the PM write documents e.g. scope of work and take meeting notes. That experience may help you get into a project coordinator role which should lead into a PM role.

This is all assuming 2 things:
1) you are prepared to take your technical hat off when you are a PM leaving the tecnical to your resources.
2) you want to be customer/management facing and not techo back-office.

Hope this helps.

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