What Should Technical PM Development Look Like?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

When you first begin the journey toward becoming a project manager, the technical project management skills are the most critical part of the learning curve. Sure, you need to have leadership skills as well, but you’ll have some basic foundation there already. You’ll know how to communicate and collaborate, and while those skills will need to grow and adapt in a PM role, there is at least a starting point. That’s often not the case with technical skills. Estimation techniques, risk management approaches, Gantt and burndown charts and jargon from Kanban to critical path will all likely be brand new.

It’s amazing how quickly you learn that stuff though. Within a relatively short period of time you’ll be comfortable with the techniques and will be throwing the buzzwords around with the best of them. Sure, it will take a few project cycles to master some of the finer points, but you’ll feel confident and be competent pretty quickly.

So where does that leave you when it comes to further developing your technical project management skills? After all, that’s a third of the PMI Talent Triangle®, so you have to invest time and effort into that area. Many PMs feel as though technical project management is an area they have “mastered” fairly early on in their careers, and they find themselves going through the motions of …

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I think somebody should come up with a way to breed a very large shrimp. That way, you could ride him, then, after you camped at night, you could eat him. How about it, science?

- Jack Handey

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