Key Stages in IT Project Management
Behind every innovative IT project – whether it’s software development or web development, there is usually a great IT project manager running the entire process.
A common misconception is that all a project manager does is to remind people of deadlines and to set-up status-reporting meetings. In fact, the role entails much more.
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In this article, we first explain the basics and continue with a showcase of the key stages of IT project management.
What is IT Project Management?
IT project management refers to the process of planning, organizing and coordinating responsibility for achievement of a company’s specific information technology goals. IT projects can include:
- software development,
- hardware installations,
- network upgrades,
- cloud computing,
- IT implementation,
- business analytics,
- data management.
IT project managers generally have to deal with investment risk analysis, interdependent integration of software and systems, software updates, as well as to strategically set the scope and life cycle of a particular IT project.
Main Tasks of an IT Project Manager
What is the ideal background for an IT project manager? IT project managers are expected to have above-average knowledge of computer science practices, operating systems, as well as to be proficient in network and service desk administration. Apart from dealing with budgeting, resource planning and scheduling, IT project managers must also be great communicators who are able to clearly explain complex technical issues.
Key duties of an IT project manager include:
Setting up clear, measurable and attainable project goals, as well as establishing all the planning required to achieve them.
This involves status reports and ensuring the project’s time frame is on schedule and within a predetermined budget.
Managing company resources, coordinating the project’s teams and procuring any necessary technical equipment.
An IT project manager has to assign specific tasks to specific team members, based on their capacity and particular experience.
Developing a robust strategy that enables the project’s teams to complete project deliverables on time and within budget restrictions.
Using software tools to analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to track a project’s overall progress and performance.
Parallel to any IT project, an IT project manager has to assess investment risks and be able to respond accordingly.
𝕃𝕠𝕠𝕜𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕒 𝕨𝕒𝕪 𝕥𝕠 𝕓𝕠𝕠𝕤𝕥 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕕𝕦𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕧𝕚𝕥𝕪? 𝕀𝕟𝕔𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕤𝕖 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕢𝕦𝕒𝕝𝕚𝕥𝕪 𝕠𝕗 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕛𝕖𝕔𝕥𝕤 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 𝕒 𝕥𝕖𝕔𝕙𝕟𝕚𝕔𝕒𝕝 𝕥𝕖𝕒𝕞 𝕦𝕡 𝕥𝕠 𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕖 𝕠𝕟 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕝𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕤𝕥 𝕥𝕖𝕔𝕙𝕟𝕠𝕝𝕠𝕘𝕚𝕖𝕤 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕗𝕣𝕒𝕞𝕖𝕨𝕠𝕣𝕜𝕤 𝕚𝕥 𝕚𝕤 𝕡𝕠𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕓𝕝𝕖, 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 𝔹𝕠𝕔𝕒𝕤𝕒𝕪. ℂ𝕠𝕟𝕥𝕒𝕔𝕥 𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕥𝕖𝕒𝕞 𝕠𝕗 𝕥𝕒𝕝𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕖𝕕 𝕕𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕠𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕤 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕤𝕥𝕒𝕣𝕥 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕛𝕖𝕔𝕥𝕤 𝕟𝕠𝕨!
How to manage an IT project
Despite each project having distinct goals, dynamics and phases that are unique to its specific requirements, there are 5 key processes that are universal to any IT project:
This is exactly the time that you and your relevant teams have to ask yourselves ‘why this particular IT project is needed in the first place?’.
You have to begin by broadly identifying the project’s core objective. The next steps include:
- a project proposal,
- a business plan,
- relevant research,
- a feasibility study.
This is also the time when all key stakeholders have to perform their due diligence procedures in order to decide whether a particular project idea is worth spending more time and money on. If the ‘green light’ turns on, then a project manager is assigned to the project and a project charter is created.
Following an IT project’s approval, the planning stage, also known as the definition stage, is absolutely crucial to the completion of any successful IT project. This is when all of the project’s key goals have to be carefully defined in specific terms, providing a clear roadmap to follow for all of your project’s teams. Strategic tasks of the planning phase include:
- setting the budget and determining available resources,
- outlining the project’s scope,
- producing a project plan.
During this stage, IT project managers have to organize their teams, establish project timeframes, set-up collaborative resources and set specific and measurable project goals.
During a project’s execution phase, all coordinated teams begin working on the development of the project’s deliverables. In an IT context, this project phase consists of three sub-stages of project development:
The design phase involves a project team collaborating to find the best possible solution for achieving their goal. Once the project has arrived at a suitable design plan, project specifications are shared with the development team. With all technical instructions established and tasks assigned, project development can begin.
Implementation involves developing the final deliverable of an IT project, often becoming the longest phase of the entire project.
Process monitoring happens in parallel to the execution stage, and continues throughout a project’s lifecycle. As a project is being executed by coordinated teams, it is the job of an IT project manager to monitor and control the entire workflow with key performance indicators (KPIs), based on:
- The time spent.
- The costs involved.
- The project scope.
- The quality.
- The risk.
This is an ongoing process that ensures the project results are achieved at each strategic stage and aligned with an overall management plan. For example, measuring if a project is on schedule and within the pre-established budget, will determine if the project will meet the stakeholders’ original objectives.
The project closing phase can be just as important as the planning phase. Once a project is complete and delivered to a customer, this is when project managers can hold post-project meetings with their teams, in order to evaluate a project’s successes and failures. In other words, this is how a good project manager can help their teams understand how to improve and optimize their workflows for your next project. The follow-up phase can also include a wide range of tasks like :
- setting up software support teams,
- training your IT product’s end-users,
- calculating the project’s final budget,
- preparing a final project report.
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