Project Manager: As a Product Manager, you would be required to oversee the functioning of a team or multiple teams engaged in development, testing or maintenance. As you grow from this role, you are elevated to the positions of Programme Manager, Account Manager and so on.
Programme Manager: This involves coordination of multiple development teams. A Programme Manager could play such a role either single-handedly, or could be part of a Programme Management/Project Management office. The terms Programme Management and Project Management are used interchangeably these days but there is a distinction between the two as the Programme Management Office requires greater co-ordination and planning.
This role can grow into a planning role where the Programme Management office plans for a project/account. Staffing, licensing and capacity often fall under their purview. This role usually goes to candidates with a few years’ experience of leading teams. One can move into this position after a few years as a Project Manager.
Delivery Manager: The role of a Delivery Manager, in most cases, involves a bit of both project management and Programme management. This designation exists mostly in service companies where the manager is responsible for the deliveries from a particular unit (or account or vertical).
The above three designations are often interchangeable and mostly involve taking charge of deliveries. One can move to this position after some years in a project management or a programme management role.
Account Manager: Project Management and Programme Management lead to roles of Account Management. Here the person has to manage an entire account , which could be a company or a branch of a company, depending on the employer and the business. Business Development and Client Relationship form a large part of this role and performance is usually measured as much by the former as the latter (through customer satisfaction measures). Deliveries are important for the Account Manager, since it is he who is accountable for deliveries though the actual responsibility of the task lies with the Delivery Manager.
In order to land a role as an account manager, especially in a top tier IT firm, you will need to have quite a few years of experience in client management.
Analyst: This is a typical post-MBA entry level position. The role of an Analyst post-MBA can assume various forms. The analyst’s role is very similar to that of a consultant offered at some companies. The standard job definition here revolves around functional analysis, where he provides the business (also known as domain) angle of the development projects and acts as the interface between the client and the development team. The analyst must understand the business of the client and the capabilities of the development team (or product or
package as the case may be).
To exemplify, the high-flying functional consultants (say in Oracle or SAP) are the ones who know the package inside out. These consultants, along with business knowledge, also possess knowledge of the capabilities of the package and how it can be tweaked to cater to the client’s function. Those who have depth in more than one package are a hard- to-find breed and, hence, are more valued. Domain experience is preferable for this position. CAs who want an entry into IT can get in as functional finance specialists. However, as an entry level position, training is provided by the companies in specific packages.
Process Analysts are those who work on industry or domain specific processes. The US insurance industry or the automobile industry are specialised areas, but generic (insurance and manufacturing, among others) experience is also prized. So, if you are a chemical engineer or a B-Pharm graduate wondering about your fitment in the IT industry, this is the place to pitch your skills. With life sciences emerging as a new business venture for most IT companies, options are open in these areas also. Domain experience is preferable and advantageous for those wishing to be process analysts.
Vendor Management: The role of Vendor Management revolves around selection of the best vendor to do a job. At one level, it involves interacting with product vendors for products (servers, software, licences, new product feasibility). At another, a vendor management profile may exist where your company is involved in subcontracting staffing provider(s) for short-term requirements. It is difficult to land this role without some years of vendor management experience, especially in a top tier IT firm.
Product Development: Product Development roles are at a level higher than those in Project Management or Programme Management. They require, among other things, a knowledge of current product features as well as competitor product features. The job involves talking to existing customers for feedback and improvements and being abreast of market trends. Knowledge of different markets would also be necessary. A product being developed for Asia may be fairly different from a similar product being launched in the UK. Large product companies could have different product development teams for different markets (or even industries). Some years of experience is desired for this role.
Product Management: This follows from the above role where a product has to be managed, as opposed to being developed. There are no static products in the industry. After development and release, the new feature/release is moved to a different group which manages the existing releases of a project. This function may or may not exist separately and could be included within the Project or Programme Management function in smaller companies. This role too would require you to have some years of relevant experience.
Business Development: This is perhaps the toughest role you may be called upon to play. Of course, those in Operations (Account Managers, Project Managers, Delivery Managers) argue that this is the easiest, since you can sell heaven and earth and everything in between while leaving it to Operations to do the actual execution. This is the field to be in if you enjoy living out of suitcases – hopping from one client presentation to another while juggling ever increasing targets at the same time. Needless to say, you must have a high level of perseverance.
Some of these posts may be labelled strategic and could involve planning. Many of the above involve travel and/or long-term offshore assignments.
Apart from these there are some more roles that are primarily BPO centric. Transition Analyst or Manager is one such role. In this, the person has to quickly cut through the clutter of processes and offshore them within a definite timeframe without missing any of the essentials. Transition Managers usually work on more than one transition at a time. In most cases, this is an entry level position and large transitions are handled by a team. Apart from previous process-related experience, six sigma experience or CMMI experience is desirable for such roles.
There are also Process Analysts who focus on transaction processes. They may be experts in a particular domain or process. Many Process Analyst positions are filled by fresh MBAs who do not have without prior work experience but possess a high degree of learnability and good communication skills. The BPO jobs can, of course, involve working at night. Salaries for an analyst could be largely fixed (many companies include a variable component here too). Salaries at the Project Manager level onwards are almost always variable and include bonus components for performance, delivery and business development. The business development role may include commissions, in addition to the perks that go with the job.
These are the various opportunities offered by the IT sector, and if you wish to be part of this sector, you could begin by getting the right kind of work experience that will ensure your easy fitment into any of these roles.