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Making it in IT: Project Management as a Soft Skill

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Tom, an IT manager from the Jersey Shore, is interested in learning how to manage projects in order to set himself apart from the competition. Project management is an excellent soft skill for IT managers and one way to master it is through the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

Dear Ed,

Do you know of any good training material that I could read that can teach me a different type of "soft skill" that isn't technical at all but is very important to me? The skill I'm talking about is how to manage projects and how to "manage" vendors to accomplish the tasks you need done. The job of an IT manager is not only to be technical but to also manage his assets or "vendors" to their most effective and productive use.

I'm having a difficult time balancing technical activities and concerns with professional management. I really hope there is a certification or book I can read. I

think it would help set me apart from the crowd. People can be technical but if they can't communicate what’s the good?

Do you know what I mean?

As always, thanks for your help and advice,
Tom, The Jersey Shore

Dear Tom:

Thanks for your recent e-mails. Sorry to hear your organization was so hard hit by Superstorm Sandy. I think you’re showing your best qualities when you go on to observe after such devastation that very few IT managers get to re-design and rebuild their networks from scratch. Some folks I know would have far less printable remarks to make in the wake of such an event! Keep up the good work, in any case.

As for your question about project management as a soft skill, with training and certification to match, I think the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is not only right up your alley, but an excellent "next cert" for you to chase down on your current career trajectory. Why do I say this? Take a look at this (partial) screen cap from Novus Learning’s mapped out version of the PMP curriculum for a clue. The numbers represent the 44 project management processes, which in turn fit into the 5 process groups and 9 project management knowledge areas:

If you look beneath all of these headings you’ll find interesting and relevant topical coverage, but I think you’ll find the entries for those rows labeled "project cost management" and "project procurement management" particularly interesting. My advice to you would be to find a nearby college or community college that teaches a PMP preparation course, or to get one of the good PMP books available, and prepare yourself for this exam. Not only will you learn the very subjects and techniques you’re trying to acquire, plus a great deal of other good stuff besides, you’ll also benefit from the very high perceived value of the PMP as soon as you can add it to your certification collection.

Good luck with this. Please don’t work too hard as you continue on the road to recovery from Sandy. Do feel free to write again whenever you have certification or IT career development questions.

Best wishes,

-- Ed

Ed Tittel is a 30-year-plus veteran of the , who’s worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom's Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with a special emphasis on information security, Web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.

Check out Ed's Tom's IT Pro blog Making It in IT - Certification & Training.

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