If you are are a technical person, may be a developer or a team lead, and plan to venture into project management you may want to know what the difference is. I have observed some typical mistakes that technical people in a project management role make. Here are the key ones.
Project Management is about working with people, not with computers
I am not reinventing the wheel here. This statement may seem obvious to those who already have some experience in project management or management. To people who are still deeply rooted in the technical world though this may be a revelation. This principle as well as the other two calls for mindset change. Working with a computer needs learning and mastering programming languages while working with people needs interpersonal skills and ability to deal with human nature. You cannot easily learn how to do this from books. It takes practice, attention and results are far from granted and often intangible.
Remember that as a project manager your goal is to accomplish project objectives through people – your team and other stakeholders.
Do not get buried by details
This is another typical mistake people with technical background are prone to make as project managers. Even the ones who already have some project management experience. They are still thinking and acting as techies, trying to get grasp of all low-level details, and even worse – to solve them by themselves. They are getting obsessed by doing and problem solving as opposing to planning and keeping an eye on the big picture before and during execution. Result is inefficient work and growing complexity of project which makes the schedule extend and milestones slip. As a project manager you should focus on project and leave technical work to the experts in your team.
Do not try to do everything by yourself
This is a classical mistake not only reserved to technical people venturing into project management. Any former expert in whatever field may fall into this trap. It as about the difference between being an expert and being a manager. As an expert it is your duty to produce something. As a project manager you are responsible to ensure project success. This is done through other people who work on project deliverables on their own or as a team. It may be acceptable if you are the owner of some of the deliverables in your project. If they eat too much of your project management time though it would be probably better to have other people assigned to them.
Switching from a technical position to project management is not trivial. Learning the skills of the new profession is important. The vital part though is about mindset change. Project Manager looks at things from different level and perspective than technical people. Always remember that your new job has the word “management” in its title.