How to evaluate an IT project manager before signing on the dotted line

How to evaluate an IT project manager before signing on the dotted line

Adopting new IT solutions is never easy. From voice over internet phones (VoIP) to systems integration, every technology migration involves a lot of moving parts: new software, hardware, subject matter expertise, even building wiring can become an obstacle. Many companies try to fit all those pieces together without outside help, and some get the job done, but it’s rarely an efficient process.

An experienced IT project manager (PM) is the key to swift and affordable technology transitions. For a business owner, bringing in a PM means you have a single point of contact for any updates and someone to hold accountable for the progress of your project.

It’s not easy to evaluate a PM though. Their main job is to create synergy between the disparate pieces of a project and that’s hard to quantify. The Online Computers Project Management service prioritizes five traits, and we have some ideas about how to measure them.

Trait #1: Organized

Every project is different. You need someone who can look at your end goal, and reverse engineer a project timeline, complete with milestones and success indicators.

For example, your end goal might be adopting a cloud-based business continuity solution. A plan should include estimates of how long it will take to complete each major step, such as transitioning your finance team’s backups to the cloud or finalizing a disaster recovery response plan for your management team. This level of organization and forethought ensures that you stay involved without getting bogged down by tedious details.

Trait #2: Flexible

Having a project plan is indispensable, but as Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Your PM must be able to adapt on the fly and respond to inevitabilities that interfere with the original plan. It’s a skill that comes with on-the-job experience and most project managers are happy to discuss how they acquired it.

Ask about previous projects and how the PM dealt with unexpected obstacles to keep everything on track. If the answer is “We’ve never run into issues like that,” be skeptical. Every technology project has hiccups and impromptu solutions are a badge of honor.

Trait #3: Good communication

Communication is a lost art, and although your PM might include certain promises in a service level agreement (such as response-time guarantees), more communication doesn’t equate to better communication.

Communication should be clear and concise so your project is completed quickly and with as little input from you as is needed. Conversely, a PM that doesn’t share enough information could cause delays. Count how many times a prospective PM uses technical jargon, mentions a system unrelated to your end goal, or makes a vague promise without explanation.

Trait #4: Technical ability

The Project Management Institute says that PMs should spend 90% of their time relaying information between subject matter experts and clients, which means the best ones are jacks-of-all-trades. Tangible proof of that can come in many forms, such as a vendor certification for an intrusion prevention system or detailed knowledge of industry-specific requirements (i.e., government regulations).

Trait #5: Leadership

If you want to measure a PM’s ability to lead, ask about the people supporting him or her. Exceptional leaders trust their teams wholeheartedly and delegate accordingly. Comments like, “John handles cybersecurity training events, but I usually jump in to help” could be a red flag.

A statement that seems like a willingness to go above and beyond might actually indicate a lack of trust. Don’t forget, a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none. PMs that brag about their team’s abilities more than their own skills is more likely to lead your project to success ahead of schedule.

The benefits of IT project management

This solution pays for itself by saving business owners from hours of messy and confusing coordination. Additionally, statistics clearly show that the faster you adopt new technologies, the more money you save:

Online Computers provides IT solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses in Hanover, Morristown, and Madison. Send us a message today and we’ll get back to you within 48 hours about outlining a customized Project Management plan for your organization.

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