If you are contemplating whether project management is the right career path for you then there is some good news and some bad news. The great news is that now more than ever project management is easier than it has ever been. However, and here is the bad news – being a project manager has for some odd reason suddenly become much harder.
It’s true that there is so much more software out there to help with project management, and this can really make the workload much more manageable. So, if the software takes care of so much of the work then just what is it about project managers that nobody is telling you? Read on to find out if you are thinking that you might like to become a project manager.
It is always different
To some extent it is unrealistic to not expect the nature of the job to change from one project to the next, and for some people that can really be what attracts them to the job. The big problem comes when you discover just how truly different every project will be. Even within the same company the differences can be huge. The team you work with, the departments you are delivering for and even the skills you need are going to vary, so if you are looking for a job that will be the same from one task to the next this is certainly not the right path for you.
Do not get too attached to your software
Technology changes and when it comes to project management this is certainly the case. Do not expect the software that you are used to, that you love using to be around for too long because something different that will help improve the way you manage projects is just around the corner. And it’s not only the software. The increased popularity of online tools and social media sites means that these are now also handy tools in the project manager’s repertoire.
With these changes in technology comes the need to keep up to date and learn new things. As a result, you might be surprised by just how much of a part technology plays in the life of a project manager.
You are not tied to one industry
This one could be considered a real positive. Project management is a huge skill so once you have mastered the basics you have a whole world out there to explore, if you want to. Just because you began your project management career in one industry with its own very specialised vocabulary doesn’t mean that you are stuck in that industry for long. Being a project manager is all about the skillset that you learn, the way you deal with people and deadlines and of course using the software, which we already mentioned changes with great frequency. Your special knowledge is not really linked to the industry you are in but the job you are doing, so if you fancy a change all you will be doing is learning a new set of specialised vocabulary in a new industry.
Obviously if you want to stick to one industry then that’s fine, but the important thing is you don’t have to unless you want to.
You need to learn a new vocabulary
Whether you learn it through professional study, being part of a project team and talking to colleagues, or even by attending training courses like the ones available via APM you will suddenly find that you have gained a whole new set of vocab. It will creep up on you and before you know it, it will be second nature. To some extent this can happen with any number of different jobs, so project management isn’t all that different, but this can certainly be something you were not expecting. And of course, it is a great and very portable skill to have under your belt.
You could find yourself in demand
Project management isn’t simply a job that you leave behind in the office at the end of the day. It’s a skill and one that will be with you for life. The skills that you learn whilst managing your projects can be applied to any domestic situation from moving home to planning a huge family event.
With your project management skills making you more organised and giving a much more structured approach to the way you solve everyday problems you might just find family and friends asking for your help almost as much as the team you project manage.
Welcome to the job that nobody understands
You will probably find yourself explaining exactly what it is you do to almost everyone you meet during the course of each and every project that you tackle. And it’s not just your colleagues who won’t quite grasp what it is you do; your friends and family will be confused as well.
To anyone, who isn’t a project manager, it will seem like you are the person who is issuing all the orders, the person telling everyone else what they should be doing. That might be a part of what you do but it isn’t everything by a long shot. Of course, what a project manager actually does is make it easier for everyone else to do their job, and frankly that’s doesn’t sound like much. But if there is nobody sorting out all those little details in the background, issuing instructions and liaising between the various parties involved in a project then everyone else’s jobs become just that little bit more complicated, projects don’t flow and when issues do arise then it can be difficult to decide who needs to sort them out. Nobody might understand what you do – but they’d certainly notice if you weren’t there to do it.
By: Paul Gordon
Paul is a self-employed marketing specialist. He has over 15 years experience in project coordination and SEO.