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Successful Project Management for IT Project: Essential Guide

Nov 30, 2020
Successful Project Management for IT Project: Essential Guide

Managing IT projects can be daunting, especially to a novice. Poor communication between departments, team members who don't understand what is expected of them, and scope creep are just some of the problems project managers face on a regular basis.

If you want to become an impressive project manager to make your projects a success then you should use the project management tools and make them part of your daily practice.

This list contains 6 suggestions for dealing with the unique challenges of IT project management and keeping IT projects in check.

1. Clearly Define the Project

Having the IT project clearly defined will provide a strong foundation and make it easier to implement all the subsequent aspects of the project correctly.

When defining the project, make sure to include an agreed-upon performance baseline, efforts required, costs, implementation requirements, customer requirements, and expected functionality. Moreover, you should clearly identify the organizations and individuals involved in the project, as well as specific technology details on how tasks are to be accomplished.

2. Identify the Leadership Roles

Being a good leader means surrounding yourself with capable individuals who will be responsible for specific metrics. Oftentimes, IT projects rely heavily on the technical contribution of a small number of people, or even a single individual, which limits the effectiveness.  

Individuals with leadership roles can make sure that the project is being executed according to the required standards. This can include roles like Project Lead, Documentation Lead, or Technical Lead. With such a structure, you’ll have procedures in place to reduce mistakes in case an individual is reassigned or leaves the company.

3. Prevent Scope Creep

The scope of a project can grow very easily. As the project moves along, clients or stakeholders begin identifying new needs or adding in small requests that gradually build up. Unfortunately, scope creep can lead to project failure. More tasks mean more time, so maybe you won’t be able to hit the deadline, or you’ll burn through the entire budget, all without delivering the right thing.

So, how do you prevent scope creep? First of all, make sure to agree upon a change management process upfront. When scope creeps appear, bring it up with stakeholders and clients. Analyze the impacts of any changes and offer solutions to your stakeholder or client in order to move forward. Finally, think about whether the suggested changes are necessary for a usable product; if that means changing the scope, try to incorporate the changes.

4. Include Contingency Plans

Scope creep isn’t the only thing that could cause a project to fail. According to research conducted by McKinsey, the average large IT project takes 7% longer than expected to complete, overshoots its budget by 45%, and produces only 56% of its anticipated value.

There are numerous reasons why projects fail and that’s why every project management plan needs to include risk management measures. IT systems are complex, and it is difficult to know when a minor problem can shut down the entire system. Software projects, in particular, tend to go wrong sooner or later as software often encounters an error or a bug somewhere in the code.

Consider mapping out a contingency plan in advance so that when a bug hits, immediate measures can be taken to fix the problem. Or, even better, consider using a project health check template. A project health check will enable your team to take a step back from the daily execution of tasks and evaluate the actual status of the project in an objective way. Benefits of conducting a project health check include:

  • Identifying issues before they occur, which can save you time and money
  • Overcoming current risks and challenges
  • Ensuring adherence to established processes and practices to guarantee the quality of the final product
  • Confirming that the project rationale is still relevant and understood by all team members.

5. Manage Relationships with Third Parties

External parties such as business partners, consultants, software publishers, vendors, service providers, and equipment manufacturers, are almost always involved in IT projects.

If that’s the case, make sure that the role and need of each of these parties are clearly defined. Ideally, you should assign an individual who will be in charge of managing the relationships with these parties.

6. Build Effective Communication Channels

Communication is very important for IT projects. As a project manager, you’ll need to ensure clear and concise communication between team members and departments.

Email is often the preferred channel but it can easily become inefficient and overwhelming. If you’re using email, consider implementing best practices such as identifying specific individuals when a response is required. Using the TO: and CC: fields the right way can help outline specific responsibilities and make sure the message clearly states who needs to do what.

Again, having in mind that you should also communicate the schedule, scope topics, status reports, and new issues that arise in the project process, email might not be the best communication solution.

Many companies use Slack, a tool that offers an instant messaging system, and integrated document sharing. Various communication channels allow team members to communicate freely regarding various activities, projects, and deadlines.

Collaboration tools like Trello take project management to a new level with the visual organization. Projects are organized by boards, which have corresponding cards that outline objectives and tasks for each project.

You can also use tools like Zoom, especially if your colleagues, clients, or partners are located across various geographical locations and need to meet on a regular basis.

Final Thoughts

Even after meticulous planning, IT project managers have to be ready to tackle a number of unique challenges. Hopefully, the tips in this article will help to overcome at least some of them and execute your project successfully.

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