Any project manager worth his salt should be able to research a project, schedule its development, add something creatively, and keep everyone focused and happy. A project manager should be part of the team and never above it.
To fulfill these tasks, project managers need a foot in both camps. They need to know and understand the development process (if they don't, they can't help the developers) and be good managers as well. While most people cite endless energy, telepathic insight, and the motivational skills that can move ants to conquer Everest, the following are other core qualities you should be looking for:
♦ Ability to solve problems
♦ Consistent communication
♦ Deft touch with people
All good technical managers, irrespective of their rung on the ladder, have to be more than theorists. It is essential that they have extensive first-hand experience of the technologies they must employ. It is only by having worked as a programmer that they can know where the tricks and traps lie. The management part of the job calls for trained skills in addition to natural abilities. This should include experience in reviewing team progress and negotiations. Those who are strong conceptual and strategic thinkers are natural leaders providing they can communicate adroitly
Note It might come as a surprise that a bad project manager is rarely the converse of a good one. He's unlikely to be rude or badly organized.
Bad managers often interview well (otherwise you wouldn't take them on), but when they commence the job, their limitations quickly show. At the start of a project, providing the project plan is well constructed, it will practically run itself. You'll only become aware that the manager is out of his depth when a problem occurs. It's at this point you are likely to discover that they don't know how to handle people sympathetically or cleverly. They seek to blame instead of solve. The organization begins to react and communication becomes lax or unclear. People begin to bury their problems. A project manager who simply reacts is likely to fail.
If you find that you have a bad project manager and need to replace him or her at short notice, your best bet is often to temporarily promote a senior programmer who will know the project and what is involved. Provide him or her with some admin backup to perform both tasks. It's rarely a long-term solution but it does give you time to locate a replacement.
Twenty years ago, hardly anyone on any PC software project had management experience. Now so many people have been through the mill that small firms are often professionally managed by people who began working solely as programmers. So the question now is not can you manage and write the code, but should you try both? The answer is probably not, if you have any choice.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.