The work as a Project Manager (PM) in a software house seems to be an exciting idea for a professional career. Work in a modern, constantly growing IT industry, having contact with people, good salary, nice perks - what more could we want? A lot of people think it's a pleasant and rewarding job, but they also overlook the responsibility behind it. Good project management defines software house’s success. There are many ways to start a PM career, but one thing is for sure - the willingness is not enough. You can gain the knowledge and experience but there are certain kind of skills you need to have so you won’t get crazy after a few months of working. I asked Project Managers in Merixstudio about them and this is what they mentioned.
Communication skills in PM’s work
The most commonly used word in job offers. Everyone is looking for a communicative person. Doesn’t matter if they want to hire a programmer, a tester, a graphic designer or a production line employee. But in project management, especially in a software house, communication skills are not just another empty word but the essentials. As a PM you’ll talk every day with your team, a client, his employees, and probably with your boss. There’s plenty of information which need to be acquired, analyzed, selected and transferred. Without the ability to quickly make contact and the right work tools , being a Project Manager can be a nightmare. But communication is not only about talking - you need to be a good listener as well. You have to pay attention to what the customer tells you to properly define his needs. At the same time, you need to know how to convince him that the solution he opts for so badly, may not be the best option for his business. Anyway, the ability to listen is also useful to work efficiently with your project team and react to the problem/question/request before it arises.
Management. PM’s leadership skills
First of all, PM is a manager, so multi-dimensional management (of the team, time, risk and planning) is a must. You should be able to quickly translate the client’s ideas and needs into the tasks for a lot of different groups engaged in the project. During everyday work, you coordinate your development team’s work, prioritize assignments, set up meetings, solve problems and consult workflow with the client. But the most important in all of this is to provide a mental comfort to both - your team and a client. To achieve the first goal you’ll need to gain trust among employees, showing them that their opinion really matters and that they’re co-responsible for successfully implementing the project. And for the client’s satisfaction, you should keep delivering information about what’s going on in the project and do you follow the set schedule.
Secondly, Project Manager is an analyst able to identify the possible risks and eliminate them at the stage of project planning. This is a crucial and valuable skill - if you can anticipate the emerging threat before it appears, it will be much easier to organize your work and others. But remember that each project is different, each client is different, each development team is different - and you, as a Project Manager, need to quickly find yourself in uncertain and sometimes difficult situations.
Agile, agile! Scrum, scrum!
What about this whole Agile and Scrum project management? IT is the fastest growing industry in the world and to maintain their competitiveness, companies need to be always up-to-date with novelties and technologies. Achieving this goal requires proper management - flexible enough to deal with constantly changing conditions and surroundings. Fortunately, The Agile Manifesto has come to the rescue. Thanks to this approach, we can ensure that our company is continuously growing because our employees and processes are developing. So do you need to know Agile to start your PM adventure? No. Will you need it in your work? Yes. Most of IT companies require working in Agile cause it puts dynamics to the team's work, reduces risk and stress, and finally, gives more control over the project. And last but not the least - Does Project Manager need or should be a Scrum Master? No. Although, the fact is that the official Scrum Guide is not defining the role for the PM and a lot of software houses combine the roles of Project Manager and Scrum Master or even Product Owner.
Technical skills - does Project Manager have to know how to code?
As I mentioned earlier, I asked our PM team about the skills the Project Manager should have and here are their answers. “A good Project Manager predicts the risk and doesn’t go fishing cod in March”- okay okay it was a joke, and I gave Maciej second chance:
A good Project Manager can look at any problem from different perspectives and go beyond the scheme.
Mind as sharp as a razor; Project Manager listen and when he speaks, others listen. He will go through every problem because he knows where he is going.
A good Project Manager is like a mushroom in the forest - can adapt to the environment. PM is responsive!
Kamil Grzyb (If you translate his surname, you’ll understand the message between the lines ;) )
Project Manager can find a good balance between the needs and limitations of various sites advanced in the project - development team, client, budget, schedule, market needs.
He can identify the stakeholders and work with them.
PM can manage conflicts, crises and look for solutions.
Have you noticed that none of them mentioned anything about technical skills? Project Manager doesn’t have to program and know technical details. Of course, these skills are very useful and to be a partner for the team and the client you should know at least the basics like the differences between backend and frontend technologies. Project Manager must be curious! Read news, trends, talk with your people, ask, search and develop in your field. The IT industry changes, and so the work and responsibilities of Project Manager. If you want to start as a PM - you can never stop developing your skill set and knowledge!
Would you like to be a part of our PM Team and run excellent software projects? Take a look at job offers in Merixstudio!