Ascend Learning is seeking a motivated, energetic individual with strong project management and communication skills for the position of Technical Project Manager in our Leawood, KS Office. The Technical Project Manager completes development projects by organizing and controlling project elements from initiation through delivery. This individual will be responsible for performing technology project management functions of software development needs for various business units at Ascend Learning. These are high visibility projects which touch many aspects of the Ascend Learning business. This position reports into the Ascend Learning Technical Services Program Management Organization.
Projects may vary and include the following: system and enterprise applications implementations, cross-functional process improvement initiatives, new software product implementation, infrastructure/security projects and high stakes exam delivery.
Responsibilities & Duties
- Provide detailed planning and project management of Ascend-wide software development projects, utilizing Agile methodologies in conjunction with Ascend-specific standards
- Able to challenge decisions by team members and upper management when decisions conflict with project scope, change management best practices, and overall goals. Willingness to deliver "the tough message" in a professional manner and in conjunction with presenting options in support of the path forward.
- Provide project leadership and accurately reports on project progress relative to schedule, scope, budget, and quality
- Act as trusted advocate to product strategists, accountable as the project manager for assigned projects
- Partners with program managers to remove project roadblocks and ensure that project deliverables support the strategy of defined product roadmaps
- Collaborate with colleagues across wide-reaching Ascend organizations to perform appropriate gap analysis and risk management of projects
- Communicate frequently with key cross functional stakeholders and business owners, including preparation and facilitation of project stakeholder meetings and the creation of KPI reports.
- Champions support of evolving Ascend-specific process and project management standards. Leverages project management expertise to provide constructive input and support of project management and program standards.
- Advocates in the best interest of enterprise organizational goals – effectively balancing the needs of external/internal customers, business sponsors and the tech & ops organization
- Project KPIs are utilized to evaluate the overall project delivery
- Serve as the primary contact and escalation point for project issues
- Works independently with minimal direction
- Builds trust and works collaboratively with all levels of the organization, including staff, business stakeholders, and senior executives
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills with all levels of users and with management.
- Strong influencing, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills
- Project Management Leadership & Acumen: Ensures project governance processes are followed collaborates with stakeholders and ensures there is cross-functional representation; partners with product owners for appropriate prioritization; cross-functional partnership to remove impediments; accurately reports on comprehensive project status weekly. Creative thinker with the ability to encourage creative ideas of others. Ability to handle multiple high priority tasks and projects simultaneously; able to work under pressure. Ability to lead teams and gain trust.
- Customer Focus: Dedicated to meeting the expectation and requirements of internal business units and external customers, acts with business goals in mind; establishes and maintains effective relationships with product owner and managers; Gains trust and respect of peers and senior management. Works well with all levels of management.
- Written Communications: Able to write clearly and succinctly in a variety of communication settings and styles; can get messages across that have the desired effect.
- Planning: Accurately scopes out length and difficulty of tasks and projects; sets objectives and goals; breaks down work into the tactical steps; develops schedules and task/people assignments; anticipates and adjust for problems and roadblocks; measures performance against goals; evaluates results; accurate project status reporting; issue escalation to quickly mitigate and remove roadblocks. Ability to be detailed oriented with a broad minded focus on delivering projects on-time.
- Decision Quality: Makes good decisions based upon a mixture of analysis, common sense, experience and judgment; most of solutions and suggestions turn out to be correct and accurate when judged over time; sought out by others for advice and solutions
- Presentation Skills: Effective in a variety of formal presentation settings, one-on-one, small and larger groups with peers and leadership; transparently and professional; presents data-based facts that support the end goals of projects, both the easy and controversial topics; commands attention and can manage group discussion during the presentation; adjusts tactics midstream when something isn't working
- Expertise in the Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft Visio are preferred.
- Proven history of managing technical projects in an agile framework.
- Experience using Jira or a similar tool to manage projects throughout the SDLC process is strongly preferred.
- Ability to comprehend technical subjects including software development and systems architecture, as well as document/translate the basic meaning behind these subjects.
- Knowledge of ITIL framework is preferred.
Education and Experience
- Four-year undergraduate degree in computer science, mathematics, engineering or related work experience in the technology industry (software development, MIS, IT).
- Five-plus years related experience, including at least three years of project management experience with successful implementation of cross-functional technology projects
- PMP certification preferred