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Should PMs have an IT background?

By MaryWeilage Editor ·
This week's Project Management newsletter explores the debate about whether project managers should have an IT background.

Do you think IT skills are necessary to successfully lead IT projects? What has been the experience in your organization?

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Not necessary

by dafe2 In reply to Should PMs have an IT bac ...

They're project managers. As long as they get the answers from the IT group....then an IT backround isn't needed.

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It's not absolutely necessary - but good luck if you don't

by mortarman In reply to Not necessary

I've been on both sides of the fence - a network admin, and now a SW development PM for both an enterprise data warehouse (is there any other kind?) and a bunch of analysis applications that are tied to the warehouse.

While it's not an *absolute* requirement to have an I/T background, good luck to you if you don't. When change occurs, if you don't understand what it means, and what the real impact may be, you can be taken for a ride and will end up looking like a chump.

Additionally, as a collective, I/T people already have a superiority complex and if you are clueless about the project from a 30K foot view (which is all you'll have without the I/T background), you'll get no respect from the team.

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Project success increases with relevant IT experience

by joper In reply to Not necessary

An anology might help: Would you want your house built by some one with no construction experience? Of course you wouldn't. Project stakeholders are taking big risks putting someone in charge of an IT project with out having some prior experience in the IT undertaking. Projects fail in alot of instances when there isn't sufficient domain knowledge of the project manager.

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Same analogy - different business

by jdmercha In reply to Project success increases ...

So when you drop off your car for repairs, you leave it with the mechanic, not the service manager?

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by Tin Man In reply to Same analogy - different ...

How many service managers weren't mechanics before?

I worked with PMs that didn't have any IT or technical aptitude and all they were were data entry clerks for MS Project. You could tell them anything and in it went into MS Project.

I used to believe that the best project managers should rely on the team for hands-on and focus on managing the project and not be tempted to jump into the weeds just because they can do it too. But I have since tempered that belief. They need to know enough to gauge whether something makes sense or not. Otherwise, they will be taken for a ride.

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by jdmercha In reply to

I used to work at a car dealership. Most service managers that I am aware of were never mechanics.

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Not the same anology

by joper In reply to Same analogy - different ...

If I ask the service manager a question that he or she should know about the repair and the answer isn't satisfactory, you can be assured that my car doesn't go back to that shop. Repeat business is the name of the game and to get repeated business you need to be competent in the area you represent. Boy, do I know a good mechanic for you.

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Not so

by dafe2 In reply to Not the same anology

I would expect the service manager to refer me to his/her mechanic if they didn't know the answer..............he/she does not (necessarily) need to know anything more than how to run the shop.

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by dafe2 In reply to Project success increases ...

Building a server room requires many disciplines so a PM should only require a 30K view. Would you expect him/her to have anymore knowledge?

To clarify........IMO a good PM only needs to demonstrate good leadership and know where to get the answers he/she needs to successfully execute a project.

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The key to almost any leadership role

by jdmercha In reply to PM=Leader

"know where to get the answers"

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