In addition to possessing strong leadership, communication, and political skills, project managers also need to possess product, business, and application area knowledge to execute projects successfully. It is often helpful for information technology project managers to have prior technical experience or at least a working knowledge of information technology products.
For example, if the project manager were leading a Joint Application Design ( JAD) team to help define user requirements, it would be helpful for him or her to understand the language of the business and technical experts on the team. See Chapter 5, Project Scope Management, for more information on JAD and other methods for collecting requirements. Many information technology projects are small, so project managers may be required to perform some technical work or mentor team members to complete the project.
For example, a three-month project to develop a Web-based application with only three team members would benefit most from a project manager who can complete some of the technical work. On larger projects, however, the project manager s primary responsibility is to lead the team and communicate with key project stakeholders. He or she would not have time to do any of the technical work.
In this case, it is usually best that the project manager understand the business and application area of the project more than the technology involved. However, it is very important on large projects for the project manager to understand the business and application area of his or her project. For example, Northwest Airlines completed a series of projects in the last several years to develop and upgrade its reservation systems. The company spent millions of dollars and had more than 70 full-time