Monday, January 7, 2013

Project Management Skills

I had a brief amount of time to reflect today as I was in between some to-do items at work.  I grabbed my marker and started to update my convertible whiteboard to keep track of some of my project items, and it dawned on me that even though my titles have included "Software Developer" and "Web Developer" (not that we are only what our titles indicate we are, but I digress...), but I think about the 10+ years I have been in the workforce, and all the opportunity I have encountered, and all the times I have found success in my career, and how they are not because of my technical aptitude (or lack thereof, depending on who you ask ;), but because of my project management skills.

Now, before we continue, I am NOT a certified PM.  My skills don't go much beyond "requirements gathering", a Gantt chart and a few lines in an Excel spreadsheet, but a co-worker taught me a long time ago to make deadlines, break down tasks into workable components, and to stay on target towards achievable milestones.

So why am I writing about this?  Simply put, having recently completed teaching my first full course on Introduction to Technology, I'm thinking about how I was on the opposite end of the classroom a little over 10 years ago myself, and the things I ignored, procrastinated on, or failed to work towards fully.  And then I realize that for all the technical courses I took, and all the business level courses I took, and for all the "core" classes I took, I was never introduced to any project management type of courses.

Admittedly, every career path is somewhat different.  I know that the way we code at where I work is different than the company across the street, let alone across the country.  However, when I think about life skills, "project" management is pertinent if you're juggling a few items at work, trying to maintain a household with a spouse and kids, or even generate extra income on the side by consulting.. or say.. teaching!

So the purpose of this post is a simple one.  If you haven't done so already, expose yourself to project management skills.  There are always plenty of resources online, for free, and project manager's are always needed in the workplace - plus they're a great way to become an integral part of your organizational structure.  For my career, having knowledge of current technologies is pertinent, and creating software that meets the mark for my end users is always a goal, but being able to juggle shifting requirements, or deal with production issues that always tend to creep into an already busy day, is a skill that takes time and practice, but will pay dividend's over your entire career.. and life.

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