Hong Kong is an Asian city with the most reliable information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. Behind the scenes of many big-ticket technology rollouts and ICT implementations are professional project leaders whose jobs are to ensure that projects are delivered on time, on budget and on target.
"A project manager is accountable for the success of IT projects," says Raymond Wong, president of Project Management Institute (PMI) Hong Kong Chapter. "A balance must be achieved between the constraints of time, cost and scope of the job without compromising on quality."
In recognition of the important role of IT project managers, the Hong Kong Computer Society has designated a special category of IT Project Management Award for distinguished professionals at its Outstanding IT Achiever Awards 2008.
A competent project manager possesses more than the specific technology know-how for delivery. The individual should also have a clear vision and a focus on the goal while adhering to the timeline, ensuring quality and most importantly, working well as member of a team.
"You form a team with experts from different areas like planning, procurement, resource management, software testing, security management, service maintenance and quality assurance in the shortest time," notes Mr Wong who is an organising committee member of the HKCS competition. "Therefore, a project manager must have first-class management, organisational and co-ordination skills to ensure successful project execution; and the ability to lead the team, convey the project goals and make sure everyone is on the same page all the time."
More importantly, this person must be tactful in managing conflicts between different parties and be able to create a harmonious working environment. He stresses, "Skills in risk assessment and contingency planning are also vital."
While on-the-job experience is indispensable, IT project management has become an academic subject with a systematic methodological framework for industry professionals to follow.
Mr Wong says most IT project management theory originates from the US, Europe and the UK while mainland China has yet to develop a project management national standard and so takes reference from overseas.
"Increasingly project management has become an elective subject in most MBA degree curricula as well," he says. In fact, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the City University of Hong Kong currently offer courses in project management within their master's degree programmes.
To sustain Hong Kong's leadership position in IT project management and the service industry, Mr Wong believes encouraging practitioners to obtain relevant project management credentials is a near-term industry vision. The PMI Hong Kong Chapter also provides a platform and network for project management professionals to promote best practices and standards through experience sharing, continuous education and training.