Posted on March 11th, 2010 in - Kathy Martucci, IT, Project Management, Top articles of 2009 and 2010 | No Comments »
By Kathy Martucci, PMP
In this world of complex information technology projects, is a non-technical project manager as effective or as successful as a technical project manager? Is the project manager required to have a technical background to ensure success?
Point: The technical project manager who is also well versed in the traditional skill set of project management brings an edge that a non-technical manager cannot. That is, she can establish, develop and lead a technical team. A technical manager understands the infrastructure, the architecture and the system well enough to ensure that the new system meets business needs while being technically sound.
The advantages of a technical project manager include:
- Better estimating skills/experience for technical tasks
- Ability to fully understand and incorporate the Systems Development Life Cycle into the Project Management Life Cycle
- Greater understanding of the technical culture and how it can support the business needs
Counterpoint: As long as the non-technical project manager possesses the key skill set we have come to expect from every project manager, she can lead the entire team effectively while leaving the technical details to the technical lead and her team. As a matter of fact, she has an advantage over the technical project manager in that organizations that are PMI process oriented may not be the best environment for a technical person.
The advantages of a non-technical project manager include:
- Less reliance on environmental knowledge (ability to cross industries)
- Less distraction due to diverting attention to “interesting” technical problems
- Greater focus on managerial and process sides of the project
What is your definition of the ideal Project Manager? Do business skills or technical skills offer the organization the maximum advantage?