Interview with Michael Burns, President of 180 Systems

An accredited project management professional (PMP), Michael Burns harnesses his project managements skills for companies planning the implementation of new computer systems. 180 Systems considers that the manager’s role conditions a project’s success.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?

Being a project manager in computers, like in most other fields, means that you depend on three variables: the time available, allocated budget and project scope. You constantly have to juggle with these elements. Surprisingly, a fourth factor has taken on importance in a short amount of time—the incorporation of the idea that only the most relevant projects possible should be funded.

IN THE PAST, THE CORE OF A PROJECT WAS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS DOING IT?

Still today, many people are happy to follow the rules, but without getting sufficiently involved in a sector. Involvement can be justified based on the size of the project. In computers especially, you can stick with pure project management if you are dealing with very large firms. Conversely, with smaller firms, knowing the codes, language and area of intervention involved will give you a competitive advantage.

WHAT IS MOST REWARDING ABOUT WORKING IN THE COMPUTER FIELD?

The most fascinating is working in an environment that never stands still. Our tools get better, as do our methods and skills. We provide products that allow our clients to be more efficient, to boost their productivity. Ultimately, companies that use our services become more competitive.

WHICH SKILLS DO YOU SYSTEMATICALLY USE?

Everything depends on the area of expertise and, once again, the degree of involvement. As regards transferable skills, I would say organization, intuition, authority and method. One particularly valuable quality in the computer field is good communication skills. Many of the people we deal with are in mid-career and impose a lot of requirements. However, it’s impossible to satisfy everyone. You sometimes have to be firm and learn to say no!

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