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Topic : IT project manager career
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Started by : Rajena Kori, Team Lead, Infosys   11 13 2008 12:18:29 +0000
Industry : Management & Strategy ConsultingFunctional Area : Project Management(Technology)
Activity:  152 views;  last activity : 07 06 2010 20:18:09 +0000

Do you think that technical skills are essential for a Project Manager to be successful in leading a project? or Just having the PM knowledge and skills are sufficient to manage a project?

 
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1 2 3 4 5
1 subject matter
2 Attitude for Continous Improvement and Adaptation...!!!
3 Risk
4 Poor Managers
5 Knowledge Sharing

subject matter

idea posted by shivaram prasad Engineering Manager, cadbury india limited

I must say that there is no alternative to requirement of hard skills. Managment and project skills only add to the Subject matter expertise. If this is not the case any one who has taken a course in Project management skills would be the sought after person for every project. Project manger need to have a right balance  of subject matter skills and PM. He can afford to have less or limited knowledge on the subject matter to the extent that he deputes a person for that job. Sometimes matching the boundaries of various skills and subject matter expertise becomes critical.

 

Unfortunately we follow the European and American concept of project management where they have the subject matter expertise readily available and PM skills are in addition those skills. taking granted the subject matter expertise. We out here talk PM skillls only devoid of subject matter expertise resulting in jack of all trades but matter of none. At least some one should know the complete job and actually this is missing. If we question ourselves

 

1) who is responsible for a particular subject matter.

2) Who is responsible for co-ordination among different areas.

 

Some of the above are taken for granted but actually it is not so. Germay and Japan do not follow much of PM principles unlike America and Britain but their skills in Project management are second to none.

 

Actually requirement of PM skills are directly proportional to lack of subject matter expertise availability. This PM skill can set off the lack of the expertise of subject matter to some extent but that capacity is not unlimited unfortunately.We are at a very dangerous cross junction when we desperately need to have subject matter experts rather than general managers in near future or we are driving to a disaster.

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by Anshum Dua, Core Lead, Managed Services  | 09 23 2009 11:25:35 +0000

I agree and disagree :-)

Subject Matter Skills do help a Project Manager to a great extent for a simple reason that if you know what you are doing then you are more confident in related project assessments that you need to do for the same. However, that is where it ends in my opinion.

Just like Technical Skills require Analytical aptitude, Project Management Skills requires wholistic understanding of Process, Lifecycle, Budget, Risk , Contingency and resource planing; more than the technical or subject knowledge. That's where I disagree.

From my experience, I feel that many project managers find lack of subject matter knowledge as a hinderance to execute their project while there are many who carry out the project well irrespective of the subject domain. Moreover, getting the feel of subject while executing the project can be a useful knack for a PM.

Cheers

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by malikireddy , Controls systems Team Manager., VESTAS Wind Systems A/S.  | 07 06 2009 12:54:04 +0000

I agree with Mr.Shivaram Prasad ,  when i was in my bachelors studies and was getting the Personality development program , i learnt that the hierarchy ladder is generally , like developer -> senior developer -> team lead -> Project lead -> Project manager. So I was convinced that Project managers do have enough of technical skills. Atleast a strong grip on concepts , of what is being done and what is necessary to be done yet , be it in C ++ or Java , that way the tool was not important but surely the concepts and outlook of a finished project in mind while doing it...Infact this was what our project manager in India always told us how to look at project management. Ok ! coming to Japan , i agree they grow the hard way , and technically too they do things great , and so being a PM there without tech skills , will be a head down situation. But unfortunately i have witnessed the case in Germany now following the trend of USA and UK. Can you believe the OEMs and many suppliers have PMs who have grown as consultant project coordinators to project managers! This indeed will have to do something what Mr. Nasir Hussain is saying too. Without a proper PM setting the requirements is first of all a horror dream ! and then continiously changing it in name of betterment , (Though you wont see any relation to previous implementation -> New strategy?? No! False strategy or incomplete strategy and then ego plays a role where developer points it out in code review and then next two days the whole thing is changed and subjected to re implementation. ) This viciaous cycle leaves the developer uncared for and also the developer sees no interest in always developing things, where he himself has a reason for or understanding for (though a little ) , he will keep missing the overall picture continiously. So finally to come out of this loop there should be who would have implemented the same project for other customer successfully and go correcting the project manager by command and get the things done , contradicting continiously as this senior developer would have already made his ground. By this time the Developer who however good will defnitely leave the team or company , so project managers without tech skills are not a loss for the project time and money , but also definitely a loss of mental peace for developers and HR department. This is my personal experience too... And some becomes PM just because of unwanted reasons one would want to listen to... No wonder Japanese companies have started thwarting GERMAN automotive market  , take it or beat it ...Automotive quality, electronics , and even the structural and definitely price...

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Attitude for Continous Improvement and Adaptation...!!!

idea posted by M NITIN SHENOY, PMP, IPMA-D, CEng MICE Manager

Irrespective of the Skill, Knowledge and Technical experience possed by an individual it his attitude to Continously Improve and Adapt which makes him Successful in Projects...!!!

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by Eng. Ashraf Theba, General Manager , Al ILHAM Engg. Consultants, Group of EPC Companies  | 10 16 2009 04:29:19 +0000

I am completly agree with u...

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idea posted by Rajena Kori Team Lead, Infosys
Without technical knowledge, the project manager must rely on a technical lead to provide this knowledge and can only perform the financial portion of the task. The area where this co-management approach is especially challenged is in risk management, where the technical and financial aspects collide. Unfortunately, technical projects tend to have a high degree of risk associated with them and it is better to have financial skills and technical knowledge in a single individual to address technical risks.
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by Narasimha (PMP), Project Manager, Soham Renewable Energy Pvt Ltd  | 02 04 2009 09:22:35 +0000

the project manager having an subject matter expertise is recognized more when compared to having only project management  skills

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Poor Managers

idea posted by Aravind Kumar Project Manager, i2 Technologies
I have seen my share of poor managers who have risen from the technical ranks, but it is my observation that the problem is a lack of management knowledge and skills, not an over abundance of technical knowledge. I would argue you need to have technical skills. A project manager has to be able to explain the project, issues and progress in business terms.
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by Dibyendu Chand, PMP, Green Belt (Six Sigma), IT -GIS Service Manager, Royal Court, Kingdom of Bahrain  | 10 15 2009 07:11:28 +0000

I would tend to support your observation Aravind.

Often times we see brilliant techies tend to dig deeper and do not have any taste for things non-technical.

There should not be absolutely any doubt that soft skills are essential. Combination of soft and hard skills, of course is killing and welcome always. But all hard and no softy will spoil the cookie beyond anybody's like. In fact the soft skills we talking about are all subject matter of production/operation/quality/HR  management curricula and not merely empirical notions.

I am closely tracking this point of context in PMI network journals and newsletters and I noticed many project managers from different parts fo the world(without a bias like those from USA,Europe) describing how they sailed through  the handicap of not fully knowing  the domain of the project they were managing.

I would second the other contributors views that the critical technical or background knowledge will be required for

  • cost estimating, which includes deciding the activity duration,  from the Control Accounts of a WBS(Work Breakdown Structure),
  • risks forecasting, in cases like complex software development or structure designing.

But the question remains why a techie will not know the basics of project management. Much like production engineering PM tools and techniques should be part of all engineering curriculum.

 

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Knowledge Sharing

idea posted by Nasir Hussain Team Lead, Wipro
I think it allows the project manager to guide the career development of junior staff and can help senior staff make the transition to management. The project manager needs to be grounded in both disciplines if he is to provide for career development.
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