Many people walk into project management with a certain level of naivety; particularly if they’ve never managed a project before. According to Wrike, 80% of high-performing projects are led by a project manager, making this role incredibly important.
IT Project Management requires excellent planning and strategy, in order to avoid unnecessary bumps in the road. Having delivered this service to over 65 brands globally, we have lots of tips and tricks of the trade, along with important things to know about project management in IT.
Project Management In IT Explained
By using tried and tested project management practices, you’ll be able to streamline the whole process and come out the other side having delivered exactly what you’d set out to. Within an IT department, there can be many things that require a project manager to oversee the process and ensure that everything is going to plan. Some of these could include:
- Data Centre Migration
- Data Centre CCTV
- Comms Room Refurbishment
- VoIP Installations
- Cabling Installations
Responsibilities Of An IT Project Manager
Your project manager should have excellent knowledge of IT systems, to ensure that they can manage technology led changes effectively. Your project manager will need to take the lead on budgets and timescales, so expertise in IT is absolutely imperative. Take a look at some of the main responsibilities and personal qualities an IT project manager will require.
Any project within IT will undoubtedly require the involvement of many people; from team members and management to external contributors, so the ability to manage stakeholders at varying levels is vital. Managing expectations, in general, is an essential part of a project manager’s job, so the confidence and insight needed to do this should be top of the list.
Experience Of Software Projects
A project manager needs to have a breadth of experience in driving software and system implementations within a business. Knowledge in delivering technical IT projects, system development life-cycles, application development and software configuration would all be very beneficial. An awareness of key technologies and emerging IT trends would also be a real advantage, as these qualities combined will ensure that your IT project will go as smoothly as possible.
A Methodical Approach
To make sure that a project within any IT company or department runs without a hitch – or minimal hitches – the project manager will need a methodical approach. They will be responsible for a multitude of factors, as explained above, so the ability to think logically is a must. We will go into more detail further on in the article on the different methodologies you could follow, depending on your specific project requirements.
The Challenges An IT Project Manager May Face
Anyone managing a project will come up against problems at some point or another. Take a look at some of the most common challenges a project manager may be faced with and prepare for them accordingly so that you won’t be caught out.
This is possibly one of the biggest factors when beginning any IT project. Your budget will largely determine what you can and can’t realistically achieve, so it’s important to map this out thoroughly before embarking on your project. Together with stakeholders, decide on a realistic baseline budget and ensure there is enough to cover every aspect of the strategy. Make sure that this contains a little extra for contingencies, as well as any costs required for people and materials.
Throughout your project, document your expenditure as you move through each phase, ensuring to make the necessary people aware if you are running slightly over budget at all. This way, appropriate arrangements can be made to either find further funds or re-allocate budget allowances. Take a look at the top project management software for budgets from Software Advice, to help minimise the challenges you may come across regarding budget.
There’s nothing worse than an unrealistic deadline, so make sure you tackle the issue of timescales early on in the project. By managing expectations, you’ll avoid the need to disappoint stakeholders further down the line when the project hasn’t been completed in time.
Impeccable planning is a must as well as clear communication amongst various teams, to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal. Project management tools are really useful here; they allow everyone to visibly see timescales and any critical dates.
Without a doubt, changes will occur throughout your IT project – these are the bumps in the road we referred to earlier! A project manager will need to have plans in place to support team members and processes in order to navigate these changes effectively. Without sufficient planning for change, your project could quite easily go off track. Take a look at this article from Project Manager for more guidance on how to lead a good change management process.
3 Top Tips For IT Project Management
There are many things that contribute towards delivering a successful IT project, some of which are more important than others. In order to formulate a strategy that will work, there are key factors to consider and have in place before you begin. Take a look at our 3 top tips when embarking on a project within IT.
Identify A Methodology
There are a massive amount of project management methodologies around nowadays, all promising to streamline projects and make your life easier. Depending on the industry you work in, company size and nature of your project, some methodologies will be more suited to your requirements than others. Here, we will discuss a few of the most popular methodologies and discover which ones could work best for you.
- Agile – From an IT perpective, this method could prove to be very useful, as it tends to be utilised within software development. This process allows teams to provide quick responses to feedback during the project as well as delivering software projects in a smaller timescale. For more information on the Agile method, take a look at this article from Project 320.
- Waterfall – This approach provides a more linear method to the software develpment life cycle, providing clear goals for each phase. TechTarget have a really informative guide to the Waterfall model, if this sounds like it would suit your company well.
- XP – This stands for Extreme Programming and involves a robust methodology that ensures quality results. The principles of this method include test-driven development and continuous integration to name just a couple and usually focuses on code and how developers work. Take a look at ActiveCollab for more information on this method.
- Scrum – This is one of the most popular methodologies used in regards to software development. Its goal is to improve communication and speed up processes. Take a look at the Scrum Methodology website for more information on this approach.
Organisation and communication is key to the completion of a successful IT project, so what can you do to ensure that you remain organised throughout the entire process? According to Pwc, as mentioned in this article from Hive, 77% of high performing projects use project management software. A project management tool allows you to stay on track with the progress of your project, as well as keep all team members and stakeholders up-to-date. Like methodologies, there are a huge number of tools out there which you can take advantage of. For an informative overview of some of the best project management tools available, check out this article from Scoro.
Review Once Complete
Once you’ve (hopefully successfully) completed your project, don’t stop just yet. Take the time to step back and look at the process in its entirety, identifying what went well, what could have been better and what you could change for next time. As well as this, it’s important to acknowledge team members that contributed to executing the project successfully and share your final assessment with them, as well as positive feedback. You will also need to evaluate the performance of your project’s end goals, to ensure that everything has been delivered effectively.
Manage Your Next IT Project With Confidence
While project management may fill you with dread, by being organised and setting structures in place before you begin, it needn’t be difficult. Whether you’re about to embark on a data centre migration or the installation of new communication systems, good project management is vital in order to execute everything efficiently. From identifying a methodology to finding a good project manager, and utilising a project management tool, there are a number of things that will work in your favour if you take the time to identify them before you begin.
With a wealth of experience in IT project management, the team here at Puffin Solutions are able to take on projects of any scale within a multitude of industries. If you have any questions on project management in IT, we will happily help with any queries you may have.