Definition

IT project manager

What is an IT project manager?

An IT project manager is a professional charged with overseeing the process of planning, executing and delegating responsibilities around an organization's information technology (IT) pursuits and goals.

IT project managers may work in a variety of industries, as nearly all organizations rely on computing technologies. Some organizations establish IT project management offices (PMOs) to guide the completion of large-scale initiatives.

What does an IT project manager do?

An IT project manager should support business directives associated with specific initiatives and assign resources based on those goals. As project participants are often spread across different offices and teams, the role of the IT project manager is to ensure that projects are delivered smoothly on-time and on-budget with minimal interruptions in work.

The types of projects an IT project manager may be responsible for include the following:

  • software development
  • mobile application development
  • web development
  • database management
  • backup and recovery
  • cloud migration
  • software implementation
  • hardware installation
  • network configuration
  • infrastructure management

IT project manager tasks may include the following:

  • project planning, setting goals, project milestones and completion plans;
  • maintaining schedules and budgets for each project;
  • managing team members;
  • distributing tasks to project team members;
  • presenting project plans;
  • tracking the progress and performance of team members;
  • assessing and taking proper action to account for risk; and
  • leading meetings between teams and other stakeholders.

How do you become an IT project manager?

IT project manager positions typically require a mix of technical and soft skills. While a strong technical background is necessary, job descriptions also ask for non-technical skills such managing tasks, schedules and providing detailed plans.

Education requirements. To be considered for an IT project manager position, candidates should have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, IT or a related field. While some positions may accept candidates with an associate degree or the equivalent experience, a bachelor's degree is typically preferred.

Advanced degrees in business management or professional project management certifications, such as project management professional (PMP) or the Certified ScrumMaster from ScrumAlliance, may be required or preferred by employers.

Skills. Employers are generally looking for candidates with the following technical and soft skills:

  • an advanced knowledge of computers, computer systems, software and network technology;
  • communication and leadership skills;
  • analytical problem-solving skills;
  • proven project management skills;
  • familiarity with one or more project management methodologies; and
  • organization and time management skills;
overview of project management courses and certifications
An overview of 10 popular project management courses and certifications

For more information about how to land an IT project manager job, see our guide on IT project manager interview questions to see what employers are likely to ask their candidates.

How much do IT project managers earn?

According to Indeed.com, the mean IT project manager salary is $96,632 per year. While this is the average for all IT project manager positions, salaries for individual roles may vary based on factors such as geographic location, experience, education level, certifications and industry.

IT project management methodologies

IT project managers often use project management methodologies or frameworks to guide practices. Popular project management methodologies used for IT projects include the following:

  • Agile. This framework relies on short delivery cycles. It is often employed for projects where speed and flexibility are prioritized.
  • Waterfall methodology. Work flows sequentially between defined phases and work stations. In the Waterfall model, work only moves to the next phase after completion of the previous phase.
  • Scrum. Scrum places a focus on transparency, inspection and adaptation. Scrum encourages iterative progress, accountability and teamwork. Work is broken down into short "sprints."
  • PRINCE2. Involves lots of early stage planning. This project management framework combines practices from a variety of backgrounds and industries.
  • Traditional project management. Draws principles from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide, designed around three phases of a project: inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs.
  • Lean. Focuses on reducing unnecessary waste in resources and optimizing processes for efficiency.

Are IT project managers in demand?

With digital transformation efforts fueling the growth of technologies such as cloud and big data across all industries, IT project managers are needed to facilitate projects such as cloud migration and application development. 

Gartner predicts that worldwide IT spending will grow 6.2 percent from last year and reach $3.9 trillion by the end of 2021. With this increase in IT spending, IT project manager positions can be expected to grow to handle implementing these types of technologies.

For in-depth reading on the Agile project management methodology, see our video seminar with Global Knowledge.

For more information on popular project management certifications and courses, see our guide.

This was last updated in May 2021

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