Career paths in project management help build the competencies in project management in an evolutionary manner. Career paths also provide a clear road map for the growth of the employees in the profession.
Those IT organizations that invest on designing the project management career path and relevant skills of the employees deliver excellent business value to customers.
In my opinion, there are nine "levels" of careers in IT services organizations. Titles depend on the organization, but in my experience, these are the levels:
Level 1: Entry-level employees with either a technical education background or a functional background may have titles such as software engineer or functional analyst.
Level 2: Employees at this level participate in requirements or business process analysis, high-level design, and technical specifications.
Level 3: This could be the team leader level. He or she might manage a team of three to four members and deliver part of project deliverables.
Level 4: This could be the project leader. He or she might manage a team of about 10 members and deliver small projects.
Level 5: This would be the project manager. He or she manages a team of 20 to 30 members and delivers multiple, medium-size projects or a large project.
Level 6: This is the senior project manager level. He or she manages a team of about 100 members and delivers multiple large projects.
Level 7: This is usually the program manager level, managing a team of about 200 people. He or she delivers complex program(s) for a single customer.
A delivery manager could also be at this level, managing a delivery unit with a team of 200 members. He or she delivers logically grouped projects based on technologies, customers, verticals or regions. For example, a delivery unit could consist of projects from different customers in the Middle East region.
Level 8: Usually the head of delivery, he or she delivers multiple complex IT programs or manages multiple delivery units.
Level 9: This is the chief delivery officer. He or she takes the responsibility of overall delivery of IT organization.
To move from one level to the next in the project management career path, it requires improving current competencies and learning new competencies.
To move up the career ladder, project managers should focus on the nine knowledge areas from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
They should also study The Standard for Program Management.
In addition, core competencies should include, but aren't limited to:
• Project life-cycle management
• Effort management
• Software change management
• Configuration management
• Organization change management
• Leadership skills
• Multi-cultural team management
• Global delivery model
Do you agree with these career levels? What skills should project managers focus on to move up the IT career ladder?
Editor's note: PMI's Pathpro® is an online tool that organizations and practitioners can use to identify the skills and competencies needed to create a successful project management career path.