Professional Paths: What Systems Analysts, Project Leaders, and Project Manager Do

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This month, I’m continuing to define common IT job titles. As I previously mentioned, there are no standard job descriptions in IT, but many duties are consistent from company to company.

Systems Analyst/Business Systems Analyst

A systems analyst designs, develops, and implements automated business systems. This process involves meeting with users to solve business problems or segments of more complex problems. The systems analyst then formulates procedures to implement these solutions by either modifying existing systems or designing new ones. A person in this position has typically been a programmer/analyst with 10 or more years of experience in application development and usually reports to a project manager or applications programming manager. Salaries run from $65,000 to $80,000, and the position entails the following skills and duties:
• Understanding the RPG language and AS/400 system architecture
• Analyzing business functions
• Developing system flow charts
• Developing system specifications for programming staff
• Handling system testing and sign-off before putting program changes into production

Project Leader

A project leader manages projects from start to finish and supervises other staff programmers. This position is usually the next step for a senior programmer/analyst. Someone with this title typically has at least eight years of experience in programming business applications and has in-depth experience in the area of responsibility. Project leaders report to the project manager, applications development manager, or IT director. Salaries run from $74,000 to $86,000. This position entails the following:
• Understanding business principles and objectives
• Understanding programming, analysis, and system design, and providing technical leadership
• Creating and maintaining plans for all projects assigned
• Assigning projects, problem resolution, and recurring tasks to available resources

• Ensuring that procedural documentation is created and maintained so that processes are repeatable
• Ensuring the quality of work produced by the group through thorough testing
• Monitoring and reporting project status and ensuring that target dates are met
• Making presentations to users and management In smaller IT departments, the senior programmer/ analyst may be responsible for the duties of systems analyst and project leader.

Project Manager

A project manager is typically used in a large IT environment. This is often the next step for a project leader or senior IT person. Often, IT managers from smaller shops become project managers in larger IT environments. Project managers have usually had increasingly responsible positions. They have 10 or more years of experience in application development and have successfully managed all aspects of projects, including programming and/or project teams. Project managers usually report to an application development manager or IT director. Salaries run from $78,000 to $98,000. This position includes duties of the project leader along with the following:
• Identifying business processes requiring change through automation
• Defining system functions and how they support business functions
• Identifying to management the project scope, including technologies to be used and interfaces with existing systems
• Generating technology options and preparing implementation plans
• Obtaining approvals from the steering committee in accordance with the project plan
• Developing the project team
• Providing vision for the project team and prioritizing tasks While responsibilities may vary, this outline is a starting point for developing formal job descriptions and structure in your IT department. Salaries mentioned are typical of large metropolitan areas across the United States but may be high for less populous areas.