What is Project Management?
Project management is the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to deliver something of value to people. The development of software for an improved business process, the construction of a building, the relief effort after a natural disaster, the expansion of sales into a new geographic market—these are all examples of projects. IT project management (ITPM) is the process of managing the plan, organization, and accountability to achieve information technology goals. Since the reach of IT spans most of a business or enterprise, the scope of these projects can be large and complex. The magnitude of IT project management often means that it’s more than just applying knowledge, aligning skills, and using regular tools and techniques to drive a project to completion. IT project managers deal with the challenges of interdependent integrations, rapid technology upgrades, and version changes that can occur throughout the project timeline.
The ITPM lifecycle includes the five basic phases of project management, but the main difference for IT project management is how the project lifecycle is managed. The most common ITPM method is the Waterfall methodology, which involves a predictive linear process. The entire project is defined before starting, and each phase is initiated and completed before moving on to the next phase. Another lifecycle method is the Iterative method, which uses a more incremental approach. The iterative or incremental approach repeats phases, and each iteration completes the planning, analysis, and design phases with the ability to deliver on a specific goal at the end of the iteration.
IT project management may also use an adaptive lifecycle, such as those found in Agile methodologies. This style is even more flexible than the iterative approach by condensing timelines into shorter activity bursts called sprints. Successful IT project management combines the implementation of standard project management best practices with the art of managing conflict, change, expectations, and more. The first step is selecting a project management methodology that fits the skills of your team and the project objectives. Once you have that set, here are some tips to help make your next IT project a success:
During initiation: Be sure you have assessed whether the project is a good use of resources and whether the project outcome will satisfy a business need.
During planning: Complete your project charter, and have a good understanding of task dependencies and how missed milestones could impact overall timelines.
During execution: Over-communicate and host daily stand-up meetings to discuss the status and any project blockers.
During monitoring and control: Ensure you have the right PM tool in place that enables you to monitor progress in real-time.
During closeout: Do a project retrospective that answers what went well, what could have been better, and what you would change next time.