April 30, 2009 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management as a Career
What are the favorable traits and experiences needed to get into the executive ranks? Knowledge of all the business operations, ability to juggle many tasks at the same time, the constant squashing of fires and panics, and savvy technical skills (just kidding! but it would be nice).
Your average IT person who supports the core of the business, the data, with Project Management experience has a highly desirable skill set for management positions.
- IT support staff usually spends a lot of time analyzing problems that arise at irregular times, making problem analysis an excellent skill set for any manager.
- Managers often need to juggle multiple projects, people, and priorities. Experience in dealing with a wide range of people from within and outside the organization is critical.
- Dealing with all sorts and levels of people is the norm for most IT people; they are constantly dealing with people, trying to understand wherein lies the problem, analyzing, and, hopefully, fixing the problem quickly and, usually, quietly.
- Problem analysis requires practice and experience at understanding many complex and interwoven dependencies that are typical in the average computer system and network. IT staff tend to get a lot of experience in gathering data about systems and analyzing this data in a systematic way.
- Every day your IT staff solves problems, little ones and big ones. They also have a constant stream of little projects thrown at them. They troubleshoot issues, follow-up on complaints, keep the system running, and they like to ‘fix’ things. All of these represent excellent skill sets for management positions.
Project Oriented Line of Work
- IT work is often this constant array of IT projects that are continually expanding and/or patching the corporate ’ship’ that is the heart of the business; your data, systems and networks. How important is your IT data to your business?
- Your data systems and network represent the core of any business, and your IT staff is probably the ones who know it the best, because they spend most of their time keeping it going. They are always there to solve problems that might arise or figure out new ways to do things. They are usually an amazing bunch of people.
- The IT department is commonly thought of as a cost center, but in reality they are making the profit in many cases. Try getting through a day without email or corporate data!
Knowledge of the Core of the Business
Although few might admit it, most businesses exist because of their business rules and the data these rules act on. Besides the people, the data and the systems maintaining the business are the core and major assets of almost every modern business. So who better to bring into management but someone who is already conversant with the core business pieces?
A Good Fit, but…
The typical IT staff member does not get a lot of outside training in the many other skills of management such as communicating (in everyday English), motivating others, delegating tasks fairly and efficiently, resolving various kinds of conflicts, changing their focus from being the person who does the task to the person who gets the task done, and understanding the corporate long-term strategies and mission. All of these can be taught. A strong strategy would be to have a mentorship program, along with some training, to move your IT staff along toward bigger and better things, like getting into project management and upper management in general.
In many firms and organizations, key IT staff members are being groomed for executive positions, and a key tool set for these people is project management certification. This is an excellent combination that makes for ‘rising corporate stars’.
Project management experience adds the extra skill sets of communication, motivation, and delegation and strategic long-term thinking to the typical skills of analysis, conflict, and problem resolution that people who already know the core of the business, your data and systems, have.
David Egan - RHCE, MCSE, PMP: Consulting Services Linux, UNIX, NT - Project Mgmt, Systems Configuration, Integration, Security and Networking
This article was originally published in Global Knowledge’s Business Brief e-newsletter. Global Knowledge delivers comprehensive hands-on project management, business process, and professional skills training. Visit our online Knowledge Center at www.globalknowledge.com/business for free white papers, webinars, and more.
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