Being an IT Project Manager

I’ve started a few articles on LinkedIn on this a few times. If you read publications out there, there are shining attributes to this profession. I’ve read a variety of reviews that propel the idea that becoming this is something that can fuel that inner fire while still making money. Let’s face it, many, most, all of the things we do where we go provide skills to another we get paid for. Rarely fewer are those things we get paid for and enjoy. Even fewer are those that challenge, enrich, enjoy and we get paid for. Those are statements of love for a thing. A passion.

So let me ask,

Who of you believe that being an IT Project Manager fulfills those larger goals?

I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years now. I’m an old timer at a few things and one is doing project management. That does not mean I can pass judgement on it as a profession but I will anyways. So here is a list of things I’ve compiled about it

  1. Its a hard profession to do
  2. It takes more than 8 hours a day to do it justice
  3. There are more failed project managers than failed projects
  4. There are two types of project managers. One likes chaos and anarchy. The second likes everything defined and reasonable. The two cannot exchange projects or either or both will go crazy.
  5. There are words involved. Words like Risk, Change, Scope, Requirements. Big words which have worlds of meaning but when you’re a project manager they mount up and people trot them around as they wish.
  6. Its not fun and its not a passion.
  7. It requires good notetaking and calendaring skills

There are more. So many more; but we will stop there. I mention in number 6 its not fun and its not a passion. There is nothing fun and I have to admit until the present job I lost the sense of joy and accomplishment at finishing. Thankfully at the current place that’s returned. Its not fun though and its not a passion. Its not archeology where your hands touch artifacts carefully crafted hundreds and thousands of years ago and the sun touches the face. Where the desert blasts sand down your back and seeps into a thousand places you wish it wouldn’t. Its not being at 9k feet in the Eldorado National Forest and realizing maybe, just maybe, yours were the first human feet to touch this ground. And its definitely not swilling beer with RWR in sleeping bags under the stars and being thankful for each can of warm Bud.

No, its grim and hard and sometimes there are moment of joy. Its also frustrating and irritating and hateful but I would not replace the things I’ve done in it of late. I have had a measure of success and been given a position that perhaps I dreamt of before. But the project management piece is still a crapshoot. Its a good then bad and then horrible thing which can run awry in one project schedule.

So I sit wondering the basic thoughts. How long to continue? Will I miss it when I do go?

I don’t think so. As I mentioned there are failed projects which line the gutters of a street that project managers pick their way down. These projects grab at the ankles and challenge you and make you think you can get a thing done in 3 months which normally would take 6. Remember that one condition about the two types? I am a chaos project manager. I take some measure of satisfaction at rescuing sick projects and delivering them within a timeline which some would say is not possible.

Yet its done and often. It takes combining all the things into a force.

Have MS Project will travel. Its a schedule not a plan though. You don’t build plans in MS Project. You build schedules. A plan is a narrative. I ain’t caring if you got your so-called PMP. There are just as many failed project managers with PMP as project managers without the initials on that road. I’ve rescued projects that those same project managers scalped and they had that after their names. Just because you got some kinda thing after your name does not make you able. We used to joke that PhD archeologists meant only that they were either post hole diggers or piled higher and deeper. Maybe PMP have some other meaning.

And such it goes in my life. Grim joy bounded by bouts of frustration and angst. Then it dawns on me, my time is limited and I’ll depart this whole thing within a year and the road will be mine.

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.