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Software project managers provide the consistency needed to see software projects through from start to finish. With a mixture of technical knowledge and leadership, they oversee both the product being produced and the people performing the work. Software project managers generally work full time in an office environment, though performing extra hours is commonplace when problems need resolution or deadlines near. After years of experience, software project managers may move on to positions such as senior product manager or software engineering manager.

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Software Project Manager Duties and Responsibilities

A software project manager’s responsibilities will depend on the needs of clients and the desired outcome. However, based on listings we analyzed, some common duties typically expected of software project managers include the following:

Understand Needs

Before a software project manager can guide a team, they must fully comprehend the project's objectives. Doing so involves talking with the client to grasp what the final product should look like, what time frame is satisfactory, and how much money is budgeted. Software project managers also talk with executives and software developers to get their input.

Create a Plan

Software project managers turn the desires of the client into technical requirements that software developers understand. They break down the various elements involved in getting the work done, such as producing a timetable, assigning tasks to team members, and developing checkpoints for progress.

Serve as a Liaison

As a source of consistency throughout a project, software project managers field questions and provide information for everyone involved. They may serve as a go-between when a client has a new demand or the tech department wants to make a change. Providing status reports to all interested parties is another important responsibility. Sometimes software project managers set up collaborative sites such as SharePoint (with varying degrees of permissions).

Ensure Results

As part of the creation process, tests must be performed on software to see how it measures up to expectations. Software project managers help determine what tests should be run and inspect the results for quality. They present a beta version to the client and select others for feedback.

Resource Allocation

Software project managers look for ways to improve operations. They aim to do things better, faster, and cheaper whenever possible but without sacrificing quality.

Follow Up

When the software is fully developed, software project managers deliver it to the client. They may assist in training users or writing instruction manuals. Periodically, software project managers check in to see how the software is performing and answer any questions.

Software Project Manager Skills and Qualifications

Software project managers must possess outstanding communication skills. As good listeners, they grasp what clients want. As good speakers, they make concepts understandable to laypeople. These same talents serve them well when dealing with team members too, as clarity reduces errors. Other skills essential to getting the job done include:

  • Leadership skills - taking control of how a project will unfold requires someone who can direct others, delegate, boost morale, solve problems, and keep everything flowing
  • Technical knowledge - a background in programming languages (such as C++), testing procedures, and the like enables software project managers to comprehend what is going on in the development process
  • Organization skills - the success of a project hinges on steps being done properly and on time
  • Attention to detail - allowing things to slip through the cracks can derail progress and cost valuable money and time
  • Multitasking skills - demands come from various people throughout the day, and software project managers must prioritize and juggle them

Software Project Manager Education and Training

Software project managers commonly hold a bachelor’s degree in a field such as information technology, software development management, software engineering, or computer science. Obtaining a graduate degree in a technical or business field increases employment prospects, as can voluntary certification through organizations such as the Project Management Institute or the American Academy of Project Management. As this is a higher-level position, employers look for candidates with a track record of success in organizing projects and leading teams.

Software Project Manager Salary and Outlook

According to PayScale, software project managers earn a median yearly salary of $84,518. Workers on the low end of the pay scale make about $51,000 a year, while the highest paid earn more than $123,000. Software project managers may earn bonuses for on-time or early delivery of a project and for successful completion of product expectations.

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Helpful Resources

We searched the web for the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a software project manager. Here are more ways to learn whether becoming one is right for you:

Software Project Management for Dummies

this book in the popular series provides practical tips that software project managers can use to see work through from start to finish

Software Project Management

from understanding technical methodology to thinking about how human factors affect software projects, this book covers topics software project managers face on a regular basis

IT and Software Project Management

network with likeminded professionals, discover knowledgeexpanding webcasts, and learn about industry best practices with this LinkedIn group of more than 8,000 members

Project Management Institute

according to its website, this organization of nearly 3 million members seeks to "advance careers, improve organizational success, and further mature the profession of project management through globally recognized standards, certifications, resources, tools, academic research, publications, professional development courses, and networking opportunities"

The American Academy of Project Management

aspiring software project managers may find this site helpful for questions regarding certification, continuing education, and career advancement

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