Project Management

Are Project Management Skills Transferable?

Jennifer Schmidt

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans born between 1957 and 1964 have held an average of 10.8 jobs. Recently I had an opportunity to switch into a technical project manager role after being a business project manager for over 12 years. With any change comes fear of the unknown. Will I fit in with the new team? What processes do they follow? Will they expect me to know what SOA, ITIL or any of a million other technical acronyms mean? All of those concerns paled in comparison to my biggest fear: are my business project management skills transferable to a technical environment?

Thus began my 18-month journey to learn what skills are easily portable and which ones needed refining or, worst case, acquiring. I focused on two main areas: communications and teamwork. I believe, and my experience has borne out, that the core of good project management revolves around the interactions of the team and their communications.

Early Attempts

My early attempts at communicating with the team were not terribly successful. Even though we were all speaking the same language it was challenging due to excessive acronym usage. Whole sentences were spoken using only acronyms. It is almost impossible  to have clear communications when one side of the conversation stops listening because they are trying to figure out if SOA means Sarbanes-Oxley Act or Service-…

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