Investing in learning the discipline of project management, especially earlier in your career, will pay you dividends in ways you cannot imagine.
“Manage Projects” is one of the essential 12 behaviors and actions to adopt and practice from Success in the Technology Field that will help you to advance or prepare for a career in technology. The twelve recommendations involve adopting crucial behaviors that apply throughout your career, as well as specific actions you should take at different stages of your career.
Driving change in any organization’s capabilities occurs by successfully delivering projects. And for any project that involves the implementation of technology, the use of sound project management disciplines is vital for success. Given the importance of projects to all organizations, anyone working in the technology field, including researchers, software developers, and product salespeople, should understand and even learn how to manage projects.
Learn to Manage Projects
So much of the value organizations (not just corporations, but also government agencies and nonprofits) deliver to their customers is based on successfully delivering projects. Therefore, a project manager can provide outsized value for the organization. And in such a role, a project manager gains significant insights into how customers react to an organization’s products and services and how they react to the processes to deliver those products and services. As such, a project manager has insights on how an organization can improve, particularly how to optimize the processes used for delivering its products and services.
Early in your career, within the first ten years, you should invest in learning project management skills, putting yourself in a position to manage small projects. To do so, undertake the following steps:
- Earn a project management credential—Formal training via PMI (Project Management Institute), PRINCE2 (standing for PRojects IN Controlled Environments), or a university program will provide you with the required foundational knowledge.
- Proactively work to get task and project management experience—Seek out task management opportunities to develop your management capabilities prior to stepping into a project management position.
- Find a project management mentor—Find a project manager whose style and capabilities you admire and see if you can build a mentor-mentee relationship.
If you aspire to positions that will require responsibilities to lead ever-larger organizations, you should continue to enhance your skills and experience in project management through specialization. Agile techniques have become the preferred approach when developing system applications, particularly those with human-machine interaction. If you aspire to senior executive roles in your career, consider investing in becoming a program manager. Almost all significant change initiatives require an organization to undertake and successfully deliver a major program. One of the most critical disciplines in project management is risk management. Forming an experienced project management team, one in which the members have delivered similar projects, is the best risk-mitigation approach.
Given the importance of projects in the technology field, everyone in the field should understand and gain experience in the basics of project management. This experience can support you no matter your position, from manager to individual contributor and from die-hard technologist to salesperson. Making this investment in learning the discipline of project management, especially early in your career, will pay you dividends in ways you cannot imagine. Project management experience provided wonderful opportunities for me, and those opportunities eventually helped me attain my career goals. It can just as well help you achieve your career goals.
Success in the Technology Field: A Guide for Advancing Your Career
Success in the Technology Field is a practical “how-to” guide for a career in technology. It presents a holistic model, incorporating skills and behaviors that help you define and attain your career goals, whether you aspire to be an executive, a leading technologist, or a successful product salesperson.