Sunday, May 26, 2013

Technical proficiency of PMs in Canada ? | LinkedIn Group: Canadian PM

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My comment

Glad to read the previous comments.

For the last few decades, since hardware and software have conquered organizations for the better or the worse, there has been a widespread myth about the power of the "IT silver bullet" that just requires technically-correct implementation, and the magic will happen. And if not, there will be a next technology that will do it.

Accordingly, too many organizations are in the belief to need IT project managers that are the xyz software/database etc. expert. <begin of snark>Of course, in case a project fails, stakeholders of those organizations will be exonerated, as they have done "everything" to choose the right project manager.<end of snark>

Let's face it - if we look at real reasons why IT projects failed (and continue to fail), we find organizational issues such as
  • Insufficient involvement of stakeholders
  • Undefined project scope
  • Lack of resources
  • Insufficient communication (not appropriate to the problem)
  • Poor planning
  • Bad budgets
  • Missing methodology and/or tools
and "the project manager did not know the technology" is none of them (Independent sources can be easily googled).

My short answer: A seasoned IT project manager's success will not depend on his knowledge about any specific technology (and I do not cite from a book, but reflect my own experience!) - Does it hurt to be a technical specialist? Yes, it can, because it may turn the focus too much away from the real business requirements and from "managing the project". 

My additional comment 

This last question .. [What if the PM does not look at solutions outside his current skill set? by Patrick Richard ing., PMP ] .. is actually one of my major concerns, as the history of IT projects continues to repeat itself: Too many client organizations have a biased fixation on a particular target technology and, instead of evaluating a solution based on documented business process and data models, a prematurely selected technical environment is twisted until it "approximately" matches the requirements.

Returning to the original question - my advice for Human Resources departments (and recruiters acting on their behalf): Pay attention to the soft skills and don't look for the technical expert, otherwise you may end up only with the second best project manager!