Ask IT Career Coach

Questions
Answers
Coaching
Is a Transition to Agile PM possible with an operations background?
I have over 10 years of experience in ecommerce retail operations leading multiple multimillion dollar projects for both start-ups and fortune 500 companies.
I have always been the functional manager and all the projects are mostly operational.
Lately, I\'ve been trying to fully transition to an Agile Project Manager role and I received my PMP and CSM certifications.
I have been interviewing for some time now, but all the interview questions are extremely technical and I feel the only person able to answer the interview questions is somebody with a developer / coding background.
Is it possible for somebody with an operational background to transition to an Agile PM role?

Any recommendation is very appreciated!
I\'m even considering contract jobs

Question: Is it possible for somebody with an operations project management background to transition to an agile project management position?


Answer: Yes, you can transition from an operations / traditional Project Management background to an Agile Project Management position as long as you can demonstrate or prove that you have gained the skills and acquired the hands-on experience needed for agile project management jobs.



Please follow the steps below to transition your career from a traditional project management to an agile project management career / position.




  • Step 1: Transition from a Traditional to an Agile Project Management Mindset

    Managers building an agile team or hiring for agile projects are reluctant to hire project managers with a traditional project management mindset, unless these project managers have successfully transitioned to an Agile mindset.


    So, your strategy for getting an Agile Project Management job has to be centered around you making the case that you have successfully transitioned to agile skills.


    For you to successfully make your case, you need to prove, show or demonstrate that you have gained the knowledge, skills and/or hands-on experience required to take on Agile Projects.


    With all this in-mind, here are some questions that hiring managers can use to find out if you have successfully transitioned to an agile project management mindset



    • What is the difference between agile and traditional software development?


    • What are the biggest challenges you faced in your agile projects?


    • What are the benefits of adopting agile methodologies?


    • Have you participated in agile projects? If yes, what was your role?


    • Have you participated or led a scrum meeting, if yes, describe your participation




  • Step 2: Become An Agile Project Manager

    You need to get the knowledge, skills and hands-on experience required to plan or manage software development projects.



    Please note that software development hiring managers are sometimes skeptical about hiring project managers without a technical / programming background


    The reasoning here is that, if you don\'t have a software development background, you will be unable to understand and solve the issues facing the development team.


    However, gaining some basic / beginner software development skills is really not as hard as it sounds, so, don\'t avoid it!


    You can start by learning the concepts and practices used in agile projects and then supplement your learning with technical knowledge about software development practices, concepts, processes and languages because some background or familiarity in software development, will help you make your case.


    It is the lack of software development expertise or background that is holding you back.


    The solution is to learn just about enough about software development processes and practices so that you can get an agile job without becoming a full-fledged software developer.


    Here are some questions that hiring managers can use to find out if you have some basic / beginner understanding of software development.



    • Do you have any backend experience? If yes, describe it.


    • Do you have any frontend experience? If yes, describe it.


    • Can you prototype or mockup a webpage or screen?


    • Can you write a sql query to extract data from a database?




  • Step 3: Learn How To Ace Agile Project Management Job Interviews

    During your agile project management interviews, you must demonstrate your mastery of important software development concepts, for example, testing, database design, etc.


    There is definitely an art and a science to handling an agile / technical project management interview.

    The science part is learning how to precisely or comprehensively explain the technical concepts or terms frequently used in software development and the art part is learning how to communicate your knowledge effectively.


    With that in mind, here are some resources that will help you understand the art and science of acing technical interviews.



    1. A Summary (Example) Of What A Step By Step Plan For Transitioning To Agile Skills Will Looke Like

    2. How To Slam Dunk Job Interviews

    3. How To Ace Job Interviews Using Practice Tests

    4. How To Succeed At Job Interviews