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Wanna Be a Project Manager?

Page 2 — What Is Project Management?

The project manager directs the building of a website from the first brainstorming session to the site's launch and wrap up. It's up to the project manager to keep the process on track and the trains running on time. It's a sometimes thankless job that involves cracking the whip, providing therapy to depressed or otherwise high-maintenance employees, dealing with politics and, worst of all, controlling the purse strings on the budget.

Those are the downsides. But there are just as many great things about being a project manager. You get to work with people from all Web disciplines, and assembling diverse groups to work together on a common goal can feel pretty good. You deal with people constantly throughout the day -- on the phone, in meetings, and one on one. It can be overwhelming, but if you like helping people and solving problems, this could be the right job for you.

What you need to know

If you were to look at a job description for a project manager, the laundry list of requirements would probably read like this:

  • Ability to manage a team
  • Experience dealing with clients
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to create schedules and budgets -- experience with Microsoft Project a plus
  • Basic knowledge of standard Web tools such as Photoshop, HTML, XML, and other Web software and languages
  • A knowledge of browser work-arounds, and general Web do's and don'ts.

You can gain these skills by working in a variety of Web disciplines, such as production, design, engineering, advertising or marketing. I prefer production because it's my professional background. Production people need a wide range of skills to do their job. They understand more than anyone in a Web department how much tedious work goes into building a website, and as a result are good at estimating how much time it will take to complete a segment of work.

If you want to get into project management, the best way is to show your boss by taking on more responsibility. If you see an inefficiency, find a solution and take the initiative in getting it implemented. Demonstrate that you play well with others and are a role model for good working practices. Have no fear -- your boss will notice. If not, then leave and take with you as much experience and as many office supplies as you can carry. Apply for a project manager job somewhere else where your initiative will be appreciated.

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