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project managers for beginners

I'm a 21 year old programming student in kenya, my ambition is to become a project manager or even probably own a software project management firm. I'm i being over ambitious? If not, are there any ways to achieve this?

ronald odero
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The "standard" book taught by the Project Management Institute is the PMI BOK - The Project Management Institute Body Of Knowledge. It's large, and expensive, but probably about as definitive as you're going to get.

They do, I believe, have a subset for technology project management published also in book form, which is much less expensive.

I'd recommend you start there. There may be better ways to do things, but you really should learn the "right" way first.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

First you need to learn to program and do so masterfully. Then we can talk about your abilities designing artitecture and directing a project.

So, what skill do you have so far? What innovative software have you created?

What on earth is a project management firm? Is this a firm that only manages and does not actually do any programming? How does that work.

Phillip Watkins
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

According to the Dilbert Principle you just need to have nice hair and be worse than everyone else at engineering.

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

are you happy how you manage your life? if not first practice there. if yes, well, then you should be able to find the answers yourself

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I think good programming skills and good project management skills are separate and distinct.

VERY few people can do both well.

What are your strengths?  If it's communication, dealing with people, influence, negotiation, planning and organizing, "big picture" stuff, etc, etc, you may want to be a PM.

If you love twiddling bits in C++, you may want to be a coder.

Either way, I'd recommend coding for 3-5 years first to get some empathy with your coders, but have an eye for which direction you want to go ...

Matt H.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004


I'd recommend Peopleware, The Mythical man month and Hearding cats.

Having a good working knowledge of what is involved by each person (designing, programming, testing) will help you understand peoples problems and what they will need to do their job, however, you do not need to be able to do everyones job. 

Management is a very difficult skill (look how many people do it badly).  You need to be able to trust the people doing the work.  Don't micro manage, that will kill a project.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

>If you love twiddling bits in C++, you may want to be
>a coder.

What a *terrible* characterization of programming!  It reduces all problem domains that a programmer deals with to elementary "bit twiddling".  If you're a project manager and you have an attitude like this, you will hire *horrible* programmers.

Programming is as much about twiddling bits as being a manufacturing manager is about twisting screws on subassemblies.  At the bottom of it all, it's just bits flipping (or screws turning), but that's not what it's about.

Good programming is about recognizing patterns in how things are done and abstracting the details away to make the nature of the problems obvious.  A good programmer won't be worrying about "twiddling bits" when the atoms of his problem domain are manifolds.

I won't similarly disparage project management.  However, I think that any project that's managed without this fundamental understanding of the nature of programming is doomed to failure in the long run.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Perhaps the best thing to do is work out:
*what I am good at and I enjoy
*what I am not good at

That would be a truer pointer to success. You might want to be a programmer, but might not have the aptitude. Having said that, you might be a great organiser; a great people manager; have a great ability to run a schedule and people working on it etc.

In other words, perhaps your aptitude would point to you being better at project management. The reverse may be true.

Bob Dylan once described success as "getting up in the morning, going to bed at night and doing what you love in between".

Success in career means you are hitting as many "good at this" points as you can and as few "not good at this" points. Get that going and success will follow if you keep an eye on the opportunity.

If you have a sense of what you are good at then, yes you can do it. And yes, you will make mistakes and will pick up some scars and bruises, but you will get there if you have the magic combination of ability and will.

Patrick FitzGerald
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

> I'd recommend Peopleware, The Mythical man month and
> Herding cats.

Also good, but I'd still recommend the PMI BOK so you know how to do it "by the book" first. It really helps to know how to produce the schedules & Gannt charts that satisfy upper management.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Ignore that chart. You don't want to learn how to make gant charts and all that crap, that will not help you be a better project manager in the least.

There's technical skills.
And then there's people skills.
And then... there's the skills of Bureaucracy.

Avoid becoming too commited to the last set - the first two you want to focus on if you want to achive success and not just talk a lot of hot air while pushing other people around.

David Vandegraff
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I agree with that statement, but I still feel you should learn those skills because they make the people who pay you to work happy. It would suck if you told them you're a project manager & when they told you to revise the MS Project by tomorrow you couldn't do it.

The people skills & technical skills will get projects done, which will also make them very happy, but they won't give you the chance if you can't make the gannt chart.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004

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