Experience is key to a project manager's success

The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on project management is based on a telephone survey of 100 federal readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as IT or systems managers.

When it comes to qualifications for IT project managers, there's no substitute for experience, government managers said in a GCN telephone survey.

The vast majority, 93 percent, said that sufficient experience was the most important qualification. Another large chunk, 81 percent, cited a proven record of success as crucial to a project manager's resume.

Less important were more formal qualifications, such as commercial certification (39 percent) and certification from the Project Management Institute (27 percent).

'There's nothing like hands-on, real-world experience,' said a General Services Administration IT specialist in Alexandria, Va.

'You need on-the-job experience as well as proper training and education,' said a Veterans Affairs computer specialist in Coatesville, Pa.

A successful track record is critical, said an Agriculture Department IT specialist in Arlington, Va. 'Success on past projects proves you're able to do the job,' he said.

'A person with a good track record can make other people believe he can get things done,' said an Army contracting officer in Huntsville, Ala.

Survey participants also identified a wide range of qualities or traits as essential in a good project manager.

For instance, a project manager has to have strong leadership skills.

'Leaders bring out the best in others,' said a Customs Service IT specialist in Washington.
Project managers also have to be flexible and adaptable 'because things don't usually go as planned,' said an Agriculture Department IT specialist in Cottage Grove, Ore.

Communications skills are an important trait, said a Labor Department project manager in Washington. 'With an IT project you have to be on the same page with different people and contractors,' he said.

The ability to delegate also is important. 'Most project managers have to delegate tasks so the ability to successfully do that is crucial,' said a State Department systems manager in Washington.

And interpersonal skills are vital to the job. 'If you can't get along with others then you can't communicate ideas to other people,' said a Federal Aviation Administration IT specialist in Gulfport, Miss.

Finally, a good project manager needs to have a sense of humor, said a Minnesota Human Services Department network manager in St. Paul.

'There's already enough tenseness and micromanagement going on,' he said.


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