IT Project Managers Will Be in Demand in '07

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Survey says more CIOs see I.T. project management as a growth area.

It may not be a bonanza on a par with other information-technology job categories, like network administrators and help desk personnel, but project managers will be in demand in 2007.

Six percent of chief information officers say I.T. project management will be their fastest-growing job area in the first quarter of next year, according to a survey released earlier this week by recruiting firm Robert Half Technology. That's up from 4% of CIOs who identified project management as their biggest growth area in the current quarter.

"We're just starting to see a real mass adoption" of the project management function, says Marcus Simms, vice president of strategy at Robbins-Gioia, an Alexandria, Va.-based company that works with the U.S. Army, General Motors and dozens of other organizations. Sarbanes-Oxley has emerged as a catalyst for closer scrutiny of I.T. projects in the private sector, according to Simms. The push in the federal sector has come from the Klinger-Cohen Act of 1996.

Enterprise resource planning projects, with their notorious schedule slips and cost overruns, are the place where project managers are most often needed, Simms says. But the opportunities for I.T. project managers have expanded as energy, health-care and financial services companies shore up their project management offices.

PMOs have historically been responsible for helping CIOs ensure that I.T. projects come in on time and on budget. Now, the project managers who staff them are increasingly taking on responsibility for communicating with business-side executives.

"That's where I see most of the growth, in getting out of the I.T. management stovepipe," says David Seaver, technical director of the I.T. practice at Price Systems, a Mount Laurel, N.J.-based project management firm.

Project management has traditionally been fertile ground for consultants because of the often temporary nature of the assignment. But project managers who do get on at a place that has a long-term commitment to the PMO function can do well. As Seaver points out, salaries for project managers begin at around $80,000 and can reach $150,000 at large financial institutions.

This article was originally published on 2006-12-13
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