How IT project management is unique

Articles

Demand for computer and information systems managers is growing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were 367,600 people in this profession in 2016, and that figure is expected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026 as more companies transition their operations to digital platforms or bolster the platforms they already have.

As more companies seek out qualified IS experts, professionals who aspire to become IS managers, CTOs, IT directors, and other similar careers may consider pursuing further education. A Master of Science in Management Information Systems is one way prospective computer and IS managers can increase their chances at earning a sought-after position such as these.

Of course, it takes more than a quality education to gain an opportunity to lead a company’s IT or IS efforts. These professionals are more than just computer and network experts. They also must be confident leaders who support and encourage success in their teams. For this reason, the University of Alabama at Birmingham includes one course solely dedicated to IT project management in its MS MIS curriculum.

All students who earn their MS MIS through the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business will take IS 618: IT Project Management. In it, students will learn what it takes to be an effective IT leader. The course heavily draws from the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge, and students should be prepared to take the PMI Project Management Professional certification exam upon completion of the class.

A man uses a laptop at a conference room table.

Project management, as a category of job responsibilities, can differ depending on the industry and company in which a person is working. Here are a few unique aspects of IT project management:

Technology development

One of the characteristics of technology today is its rapid development. There are seemingly constant advances in technology, each of which can have an impact on projects that are already underway.

Significant risks of any IT-related project include changes in the technology available or updates to infrastructure that change security needs, SearchCIO pointed out. Because of this, any person leading an IT project needs to be focused on keeping up with relevant developments that could impact the progress or success of the initiative.

Technical methodologies

IT managers must understand how software and applications are designed, developed, and implemented. In many cases, there’s a strict and defined method of working that all team members know, understand, and are expected to follow.

One of the most common methodologies is agile, Tushar Patel, the vice president at the project portfolio management solutions company Innotas, explained to CIO. While agile was previously used primarily among software development teams, other departments and organizations have come to see the value of following this model. As such, it’s important for leaders to understand this methodology as well as the professionals on their teams.

Patel noted that there are different ways an organization might interpret the agile methodology, and not all companies use agile in the same way. Though it may be helpful to come into the organization already having knowledge of agile and how it can be used, it’s just as important to come to the job with an open mind and a willingness to adopt a new method.

Risk assessment

Most business decisions carry with them some amount of risk. Whether choosing an office location, a business name, or to develop a new product, there’s a chance that the decision won’t work out, and the time, resources, and money that went toward the effort will be wasted, or they could have gone to something more effective.

Taking risks is inevitable, but a good IT project manager should be able to evaluate just how much risk his or her team is taking by investing time and resources into a particular project instead of another, CIO pointed out.

Risk assessment goes beyond understanding the potential impact of an action; it also includes determining how to best minimize risk of failure for projects that aren’t getting much attention due to focus on a larger or more pressing initiative. One aspect of reducing risk of failure is ensuring team members have the knowledge and tools needed to accomplish necessary tasks. Getting that knowledge and tools to the team may include requesting additional funding for the department or arranging training sessions.

Language knowledge

Software developers need a solid grasp of certain programming languages. It’s important that their managers also have a good understanding of these languages, CIO noted.

“You have to find someone with whom software developers will gladly work and who they will respect; someone who’s familiar with the languages and platforms they’re using, who knows the ins and outs of the software development lifecycle, who understands their challenges and strengths,” explained Hallie Yarger, a regional recruiting director for digital marketing and tech sourcing and consulting firm Mondo, according to CIO. “Someone who can talk the talk and walk the walk.”

Students coming into the MS MIS program without an IT background will learn about programming languages and their role in implementing business solutions in the bridge program course, IS 204: Introduction to Business Programming. This course is also a part of the Bachelor of Science in Information Systems curriculum.

University of Alabama at Birmingham prepares MS MIS students to be leaders

To be an IT project manager is to be a strong leader who understands the unique aspects of technology development in the modern business landscape. Students who earn their MS MIS degree through the Collat School of Business will study the concepts above, in addition to other essential leadership skills. To learn more about how the online MS MIS program can prepare you for a career in IS management, reach out to an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:

Skills you can learn while pursuing your MS MIS

Career opportunities to consider with an MS MIS

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics

University of Alabama at Birmingham MS MIS

University of Alabama at Birmingham MS MIS course descriptions

SearchCIO

CIO

University of Alabama at Birmingham BSIS course descriptions