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a technology project manager gives a status update

Is project management a dead-end career?

March 12, 2018

By Velu Palani

Ten years ago, project management was a respected, stable, satisfying career. But I’ve noticed lately that many project managers are stressed out—and not enjoying the same degree of job security as in recent years.

What accounts for this change? And how can a PM thrive in the current market?

Project managers still generally enjoy in-demand status and high pay. In fact, in our recent IT Forecast, IT leaders ranked project managers as the No. 2 most critical role for project success, right behind developers. However, the trend for many of these roles is becoming a glorified administrator who checks boxes on schedules, budget and deliverables—not exactly a rewarding position. And PMs who fall into that administrator role will have an increasingly hard time finding great career and job satisfaction.

In my capacity as the Salesforce lead for TEKsystems, I work with many client PMs on major implementations. I’ve also managed PMs through major Salesforce roll-outs and have noticed that they’re more stressed than they used to be, and I wanted to find out why.

I interviewed some PMs to find out the reason for their worries and came to a few conclusions—and some advice.

How to stay relevant (and marketable)

Project managers who develop three key areas of expertise will enjoy excellent growth opportunities:

1. Deep domain knowledge

Knowing how to effectively keep a project on track and talk to developers is just the baseline skill set for project management. In order to become a trusted advisor to your business partners, you need to understand the business you’re in. For instance, if you work in manufacturing, you should understand your company’s products and what it takes to produce and sell them, from procuring raw materials to supply chain processes to marketing.

2. Technology expertise

Whether you came up in the tech side or not, you need to have a solid grasp of the technologies that drive your company’s operations and how they work together. For instance, if you’re managing a Salesforce project to support a call center, you should have a strong understanding of the Salesforce Service Cloud capabilities.

3. Multiple methodologies

Today’s technology project managers need to know the main methodologies for managing projects: Agile, Scrum and Waterfall. As companies seek to speed up development projects—and incorporate faster customer feedback—they’ll probably start expecting PMs to learn more about DevOps practices, as well.

When you know your business and cultivate deep knowledge about technology, you will become highly marketable and likely enjoy your career more.

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Velu Palani is the Salesforce practice manager for TEKsystems Digital. TEKsystems is a Salesforce Silver Partner.

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