The 10 Best IT Jobs in America Require Serious Project Management Skills
By J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, GWCPM, SCPM
Executive Vice President – Enterprise Solutions, IIL
CIO Senior Writer Sharon Florentine has developed a slideshow entitled “10 best IT jobs in America” using information from Glassdoor’s annual “Best Jobs in America” list for 2016. It’s quick and easy to read, and anyone in IT, or anyone looking to get into the IT field, will find her article interesting for many reasons (not the least of which is the salary range for each position!).
But what I found most interesting is that every single one of these IT jobs requires some level of project management experience, business analysis competence, and leadership and team-building skills. For a lifetime student of project management like me, you could see why this is so fascinating. In many of these jobs, the more experience in project management and these other critical skills, the better.
So, what are the 10 best IT jobs in America today?
Here’s the list (you can read a brief description of each role in the slideshow):
- Data Scientist
- Solutions Architect
- Mobile Developer
- Product Manager
- Software Engineer
- Analytics Manager
- Software Development Manager
- QA Manager
- UX Designer
- Software Architect
Why do I contend that the folks doing these jobs need serious project management and other “non-technical” skills?
Here are a few reasons why. See if you agree.
All of these jobs require the individual to work on cross-functional teams, and each team member brings different skills, personalities, and level of experience to the effort.
IT folks can’t be “lone wolves” locked up in solitary confinement, throwing solutions over the wall to users and clients. Companies have tried that for years with little to show for it. IT professionals must work shoulder-to-shoulder with users and clients to understand their needs through iterative processes so that they can produce the desired solution or product. Let’s face it—working with clients and users can be a messy business for a variety of reasons, so having refined interpersonal skills (which isn’t something many IT folks are known to have) will go a long way toward providing a harmonious working environment. This usually results in better products getting to market quicker. And, what company doesn’t want that today? No company I know.
These IT positions require that the individual have a strong background in various software development approaches: The Scrum approach in particular, waterfall, and more increasingly, Agile.
That’s a whole different ball game than a traditional approach to software development. Scrum, in addition to other significant differences from the waterfall method, requires the team to effectively manage itself, relying only on the Scrum Master to ensure that Scrum practices are followed. The Scrum Master is not there to “call the shots” as generally practiced in traditional command and control project management (an approach which is increasingly becoming discredited as a way to manage). In a word, each job requires a very high level of discipline on the part of the IT professional to work well with the team and participate in the necessary collective decision making to get the project done.
Many of these jobs demand that the IT professional have a deep understanding of what I call the “business of the business.”
In other words, the more the IT pro knows about how the business operates, how it makes money, and the overall strategy of the company, the better able they are to align their project with that strategy. IT folks will simply make better decisions because they will make those decisions in context with business needs. Focusing only on the technology might yield some impressive results but at a cost that might undermine the project’s business case.
Finally, many of these jobs pay a handsome salary. Executives expect to get their “money’s worth” from these folks.
That means they need to produce great products in a reasonable timeframe, helping the business increase revenue and profit. Strong technical skills are indeed required for people to get these jobs, but from my perspective, it’s the project management and other skills mentioned above that will help IT pros keep those jobs.
Learn more about IIL’s training in project management, IT, leadership, and more at www.iil.com.
J. LeRoy Ward is a highly respected consultant and advisor to Global Fortune 500 Corporations and government agencies in the areas of project, program and portfolio management. With more than 38 years of government and private sector experience, LeRoy specializes in working with senior executives to understand their role in project and program sponsorship, governance, portfolio management and the strategic execution of projects and programs.