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Software project management is a unique form of project management that focuses on computer, web, and mobile device applications. No two days in the life of a Software Project Manager are the same. Some daily tasks might include updating risks, delegating issues, projecting progress, preparing, communicating with clients and stakeholders, stand-up meetings, meeting with team members, and adapting to issues as they arise.
The Software Project Manager will oversee a team of Developers, Engineers, Architects, Designers, and a Scrum Master through the software process. They’ll work in conjunction with other teams like project management, infrastructure, information technology, cybersecurity, stakeholders, board members, and quality assurance engineers. The teams and individuals that any given software Project Manager will work with depends on their employment environment.
Software Project Managers need to be able to figure out what the next right thing to do is continued throughout the day despite high levels of uncertainty for any given decision. They’ll also need to maintain high energy working with many different moving parts like individuals, changing timelines, budget, and technologies. The schedule of a Software Project Manager will fluctuate, but they usually work more than 40 hours per week. They work in any industry that uses software, websites, and mobile applications. They can work full-time or as a consultant that is onsite or remotely.
The Software Project Manager will take desired results from a client and transform them into technical requirements that a team of Software Developers, Designers, and other team members can understand and execute. Aside from people management, the majority of software project management responsibilities involve overseeing every aspect of the development of a piece of software. This means managing the development team, clients, projects, changes, mistakes, timelines, stakeholders, and the budget. This is a position that requires adaptability because coding isn’t perfectly standard, mistakes happen, technologies change, and client’s preferences grow over the course of a project.
Software project management primarily requires soft skills because 80% or more of their job is communicating and working with other people. They serve as the liaison between the client, development team, management team, and any other department involved in the project. They are usually in charge of hiring and firing people on the project team. Certain traits such as being detail-oriented, leadership attitudes, and organizational skills are important for a Software Project Manager.
They’ll need to be proficient in project management technology which varies from company to company. Software like Slack, project management platforms (Monday, Wrike, Trello, Asana, Jira, or LiquidPlanner), scheduling tools, budgeting tools, and other industry-standard software will be used daily on projects like these.
Software Project managers should also have a basic understanding of coding languages, design principles, and finance to understand the jargon that members of your project team will be using in order to communicate the needs of the project properly and understand what is happening. Software Project Managers will find that being proficient in one or a few coding languages extremely useful but they will not be coding on a daily basis. Technical skills might also include understanding and implementing scrum, kanban, and agile frameworks. Some Software Project Managers find using agile frameworks to be the best method while others argue that the frameworks don’t allow for overlapping tasks and timelines. Knowledge of testing procedures, quality control, and basic cybersecurity protocols are also necessary.
Web development is the practice of building, creating, and maintaining websites. Web development uses coding languages to build a website for the internet.
Project management is the practice of leading a team's work through planning and team management to meet a goal and deadline with a completed project.
Product management is the combination of project management and technical skills to plan, analyze, and maximize the effectiveness of a product. This process includes the development of business strategies, functional design, and management of the launch of new features.
The most common project management certifications are awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI). These professional certifications ensure your ability to meet the demands of projects and employers by creating rigorous standards based on ongoing research. Some certifications include Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), and the PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA).
A Software Project Manager in the United States makes, on average, $123,171 annually, according to Indeed.com.
Salaries for Software Project Managers vary by region within the the United States. Listed below are some Software Project Manager salaries for specific areas with the United States compared with the average national salary:
Most Software Project Manager positions will require at least three years of experience which can be gained from adjacent roles or may be bypassed by a Project Management Institute (PMI) certification. Generally, a position like this will require a cultural fit interview in which they will determine if your temperament and personality are right for their organization or project before moving forward to a technical interview which will determine if the candidate is eligible for the position. A college degree is not usually required but may be desired by many employers. Often, Software Project Managers start out as Junior Developers and work their way up to project management with some additional training during their career.
Software Project Managers can find roles anywhere that software is being developed. This may be at a corporation, startup, government entity, or tech company. It is possible to be a Software Project Manager consultant but it helps to have experience in contract or full-time positions first.
Software Project Managers can find jobs on these sites:
Freelance or Remote Software Project Managers can find jobs on these sites:
Project Managers who have no management experiment should work their way up to a Project Management position by working in entry-level, mid-level, or adjacent tech positions first. Software Project Managers can start as a Developer, Software Engineer, Scrum Master, Quality Assurance Inspector, or Assistant Project Manager. These jobs will build the experience and skills that a Software Project Manager needs to effectively do their job.
Job hunting in tech is a marathon, not a sprint. Building up connections via LinkedIn, putting out quality applications each week, and vigilantly practicing your skills while you search will help you build momentum and will likely yield results over time. Creating a schedule and templates for applying for these jobs might help you stay on track.
Your Software Project Manager resume and Linkedin profile should show your past experience and how the skills you used in those positions are relevant to a Software Project Management position, especially if you do not have a computer science degree or experience working as a Project Manager in the past.
The interview is usually the most important part of a Software Project Manager’s job search. You can land the job and ace the interview by practicing beforehand. Schedule mock-interviews with your friends or family, use Interviewing.io or a similar site, or look up common Software Project Manager questions and practice in front of a private Zoom call with yourself. Another important consideration for the Software Project Manager interview is cultural fit. This will be a major factor in whether or not you get hired but know that not every company is going to be the right fit for you. You will likely go through many interviews before you land your first job.
Software Project Managers can find positions at startups, software as a service (SaaS) companies, at government entities, and within software development agencies. They might find jobs in other industries as well, but these are the most popular. It is also possible to work as a consultant, contractor, or freelancer in this career path once you’ve landed your first job or two under your belt. These types of work can be more lucrative, depending on the projects you choose to take on.
Software Project Managers should look for these job titles:
There are many careers that Software Project Managers or people who want to become Software Project Managers should look into. If you’re looking to become a Software Project Manager but don’t yet feel prepared, working as a Developer or Software Engineer first might bring some confidence and qualifications as well as a decent salary until you feel more prepared to take on the role of Software Project Manager.
If you’ve already landed a Developer or Engineer role, you could move into a Scrum Master position or Senior Developer role to prepare for the Project Management role. If you’d like to pursue a Scrum Master job, you should get Scrum certified first. If you’re already a Software Project Manager and you’d like a change of scenery, virtually any project management position would be a fantastic lateral move with a similar, if not higher, salary. You may also find that upper-level management positions to be something you’re ready to upskill to.
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