As emerging technologies continue to disrupt how we live and work, the role of IT project manager is subject to near-constant change. As such, businesses need to embrace the latest tools, processes and methods if they’re to steer their IT projects along the path to success.
To help you make sense of the fast-paced world of IT project management (ITPM), we’ve put together this in-depth guide, covering the ins and outs of ITPM, common methodologies, and our recommended tools and software.
- What is IT Project Management and Why Is It Important?
- IT Project Management Methodologies: Which Should You Use?
- Tips on How to Manage an IT Project
- IT Project Management Tools and Software
IT project management (ITPM) is an umbrella term for the processes, workflows and activities which go into individual IT projects. It involves planning, organising and executing IT-related projects – examples of which include:
- Cloud computing
- Data mining and migration
- Software installation
- Hardware maintenance and upkeep
- Web development
- Network security, configuration and access
- IT support, maintenance and emergency recovery
- Application development
Without effective management and organisation, many IT projects would fail to get off the ground. A clear, measured strategy is required to convey IT projects through to completion – which is why efficient project management is such an important provision within IT-reliant enterprises.
Effective IT project management doesn’t happen on its own. Indeed, it’s become an area of business unto itself – with many organisations now hiring dedicated ITPM personnel to oversee the delivery and maintenance of internal systems and software.
While ITPM professionals tailor their approach to a business’ unique IT infrastructure requirements, several methodologies have emerged since the profession took flight – many of which borrow elements of traditional project management.
Let’s take a look at the most commonly used ITPM methodologies and what they can offer your business.
One of the most widely used and recognised ITPM methodologies; the waterfall method is used to track, monitor and progress large-scale IT projects – ensuring optimal efficiency and maximum stakeholder buy-in for the duration of the project roadmap.
As far as ITPM methodologies go, the waterfall method is as tried-and-tested as it gets. Developed in the 1970s, the model steers the project through a six-stage process, including:
However, as successful as it may be, many see the waterfall model as burgeoning on out-dated. That’s because it’s suited to linear, formal projects – an approach which many businesses are looking to move away from as digital transformation continues to change the way we work.
Nurtured by software developers looking for a more flexible means of managing projects; the agile methodology is the successor to waterfall, focusing less on linear progress and more on iterative flexibility. Thanks to its ‘sprint’ format and collaborative approach, the model has quickly risen to become one of the most prevalent ITPM models used by today’s modern enterprises.
That said, agile isn’t without its faults, and many IT teams have been unwilling to adopt this approach through fear of reduced output. Critics also point to the supposed lack of a finite project endpoint as to reasons why some IT teams are yet to dip their toes fully in the agile pond.
From the heading, we trust you know where we’re going with this section. In response to the shortcomings of both the waterfall and agile models, IT teams have been quick to introduce a new form of ITPM, hybrid, which takes plus points from both camps to provide an effective, best-of-both-worlds solution.
The hybrid methodology follows a similar, linear project roadmap to that encouraged by waterfall, with opportunities for enhanced collaboration and iterative changes – the two main attributes of agile. It’s rapidly becoming the go-to project management solution for IT teams, providing the perfect balance of efficient output with opportunities to fix faults and solve problems on a flexible, ad-hoc basis.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for effective IT project management, history and experience provide clear indicators of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to delivering on an IT project.
Here, we take a step-by-step look at managing an IT project – from scoping the project to measuring the results.
Step 1: Requirement collection
Among the most legwork-intensive stages of the ITPM roadmap; your first step is to collect the requirements of the project, defining what’s needed and your desired outcomes. From here, you can outline other project parameters, including the budget, timeline and the resources needed to see the project through to completion.
Step 2: Assigning roles
Next, you need to break up the project into systemic workflows, delegating tasks either to members of your in-house team or a trusted third-party. Naturally, you’ll need experienced IT practitioners to complete the technical aspects of the project, but other personnel are needed to carry the project forward too. For example, we’d recommend assigning a project manager responsible for ensuring efficient progress, even if their background doesn’t relate to IT.
Step 3: Roadmap your project
Between yourself and your project manager, it’s time to roadmap the project from ideation to completion, with key milestones and testing periods marked-up accordingly. For this, we’d recommend a Kanban board, as they provide the best way to ensure project transparency while allowing for full collaboration between team members.
Step 4: Monitoring and managing
With the project underway, your job becomes less about project refinement and more about monitoring and managing progress. Encouraging regular communication between project team members, stay abreast of progress through your Kanban board, and make sure everyone has the tools and resources they need to complete key tasks. Also, be sure to delegate where necessary, managing individual workflows to ensure that no one feels overwhelmed.
Step 5: Revising and fixing
Few, if any, IT projects go off without a hitch, and most encounter several problems on their path to completion. That’s why embracing the agile methodology has become such a crucial part of effective ITPM – giving you the flexibility to solve problems and fix issues before they impact on the wider project. This is your chance to iron out glitches and make revisions before the go-live, so be thorough in your testing and make every action count.
Step 6: Go-live and measuring success
When the project is ready and you’re poised to go live, carry out thorough final testing to identify last-minute pain points and issues; it’s always worth involving other teams and departments to put the new systems and processes through their paces. When the project is live, carry out a final review with your team, discussing what worked and what didn’t, so you can refine and improve your process.
As you’d expect, specialist tools and software are needed to carry an IT project forward and ensure everything is a breeze to manage. As a minimum, we’d recommend investing in project management tools to help with the following:
- Brainstorming and ideation
- Workflow visualisation
- Project timelining
- Budget and invoicing
There are lots of useful project management tools you can use to steer your IT project towards completion. Be sure to read our guide on 12 project management tools for IT teams to learn more about the different applications and software we’d recommend for all ITPM practitioners.
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