IT project managers are the backbone of enterprises in the current digital age. Resilient and proactive leadership at this forefront is crucial to help organizations achieve their IT goals. The IT climate is highly competitive, and project managers need to efficiently deliver demanding projects on time.
What are your roles as an IT project manager? You balance both your enterprise and end customers without conflict in demand and supply. When designing a technology, you ensure that the interface is user-centric, intuitive, and highly adaptable to the changing market needs. You also simultaneously facilitate streamlined team management and progress tracking for a tightly-knit project delivery without loose ends. What helps you to be on track with each of these activities? We speculate that your go-to strategy is incorporating IT project management software into your day-to-day activities.
An ideal IT project management that is tailor-built to match the intricacies of your business is crucial to unlocking project success. This guide deals with various aspects of IT project management. It highlights the phases, challenges, and roles involved, with suitable examples. It seeks to help manage your IT projects better along with the use of project management software for IT companies.
What is IT Project Management?
Information technology has become the baseline for most projects. IT is pervasive, it is a fundamental tool that ensures communication, collaboration, and data management, and provides data insights. These project management software tools have permeated various industries and sectors. From telecommunications to finance, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, logistics, transportation, and more, the ubiquity of technology cannot be overlooked.
The successful completion of any IT project largely depends on how effectively it is managed. As per reports, 77% of high-performing projects use project management software. IT project management thus refers to the process of planning, managing, and executing projects concerned with information technology.
IT project developers oversee the technical aspects of the project, they write and test code, design UX, and troubleshoot issues. On the other hand, IT project managers look after the entire IT project. They ensure smooth coordination and performance across the different stages of IT projects. With strong leadership and the right project management software, IT project managers follow a visionary path to ensure success. They handle resource allocation, budgeting, and facilitate coordination to execute projects effectively.
5 Phases of IT Projects
A structured IT project lifecycle determines the outcome. Categorizing the lifecycle into five phases enables smooth flow, with efficient mapping of project success at each stage. It keeps the stakeholders informed and engaged and allows the timely elimination of any vulnerability.
Every IT project manager must be mindful of the five phases of IT projects. It helps incorporate best practices, whether in Agile sprint works, or project rollouts. These stages break down the larger IT projects into shorter, achievable goals. Let’s expand on the different phases involved:
1) Initiation Phase
Project management software tools offer a good head start in the initiating phase of IT projects. It brings together necessary data points to outline the various aspects of the projects. The inception of any IT project requires a charter and feasibility analysis. The charter offers the documentation to move forward in the right direction. It helps define the scope, budget, and the team involved at the forefront. Hence, it gives the right push to stay on track with the end goals.
2) Planning Phase
Once you define the scope, planning is necessary to get clarity and direction. IT managers need to come together with other team members to refine the project idea. It eliminates the possibility of scope creep in the near future. Moreover, it involves allocating time, budget, and resources to the project. IT project managers logically sequence the task for minimal disruptions. Incorporating project management software tools gives better control over the task sequencing process.
3) Execution Phase
Next comes the execution stage. It is where the project officially kicks off. The IT project manager gets the team together to ensure smooth coordination. You can set realistic expectations using project management software to adjust deliverables with the project objectives. It is a necessary stage for task delegation to ensure that nothing is amiss, and it progresses as scheduled.
With the right project management software for IT companies such as Professional Services Automation, it becomes easier to track the regular status updates. It enables prompt responsiveness and adjustment to the risk that arises during the project. The software significantly minimizes the likelihood of errors to ensure that the deliverables align with QA. If not, the IT project managers can leverage the dataset and tweak it to get the desired results.
4) Monitoring and Controlling Phases
Project management software tools play an important role in leveraging real-time project management. It offers comprehensive visibility into the performance at each stage for proactive decision-making and optimization. Mandating real-time monitoring and control drastically improves the project quality. With the right project management software for IT companies, you can ensure compliance with regulatory standards. It will guarantee success and proliferation in the long run.
Continuous monitoring cannot be sidelined. Based on the key performance indicators that the IT project manager has identified at the start of the project, monitoring boosts control over the direction of the project. Thus, it will help you provide the required administrative lead to the team and eliminate problems and delays for a better probability of success.
5) Closure Phase:
It is the responsibility of the leader to guide the project towards successful completion. An informed project plan does not imply that it will not be exposed to risks. Instead, the project manager must make efforts to annotate the risks and monitor the resolution. Using a project management software, you can efficiently close a wide range of tasks, and govern it to implement the approved corrective actions. A project manager fulfils the three roles, i.e., as an integrator, communicator, and leader throughout the project to bring it to a close and get desired results.
Roles of an IT Project Manager
The roles and responsibilities of an IT project manager are to determine the probability of success or failure of the project. The interpersonal roles adhere to the ability to build strong relationships with team members and motivate them to deliver their best. You also need to build strong liaisons with external parties. The informational roles cover the ability to see the bigger picture while meeting the process goals. Some of the major roles include:
- Ensure Product Functionality: Being an IT project manager requires grit and determination to meet the planned objectives. You need to disseminate information to the team members regarding processes, practices, and strategies. You need to schedule a periodical review and validate the business use-cases of the product, to ensure its functionality. Based on the results, you need to help your team adopt corrective or preventive actions as required.
- Task Delegation: An IT project demands the fulfilment of a range of roles with niche expertise. When assigning tasks, an IT project manager needs to know the team members’ strengths in detail. Hence, when you are in this position, you need to make strong decisions and earn the trust of your team. You need to empower them and boost their morale to increase overall productivity. Integrating project management software for IT companies offers better opportunities to efficiently assign tasks without conflicts.
- Performance Analysis and Tracking Progress: Staying updated consistently regarding the project at each stage is crucial. The IT project manager must have both long-term and short-term goals in sight. Hence, you need to continuously map the performance against the KPIs and ensure that it is within the time and budget limits. Leveraging project management software gives you an additional edge to determine the project’s alignment with the end goals against the performance parameters.
- Conduct Smooth and Direct Agile Meetings between Involved Entities: Various stakeholders are involved, directly or indirectly, with the project’s outcome. From team members to developers, QA, security officials, or the customer, all the stakeholders must be on the same page. This requires providing timely information to each stakeholder and establishing communication channels to avoid any information gaps. Project management software tools with communication capabilities open the scope for a smooth flow of information without data security breaches.
What are the Significant Challenges Faced by IT Project Managers?
As it goes without saying, you will come across different sets of challenges across the entire journey as an IT project manager. However, embracing project software management tools boosts your capabilities and shoots up your confidence when looking after the concerned project.
Time and Cost Constraints
It is essential for any project to meet the deadlines. The market shifts at a fast pace and if the product is not delivered on time, it will fail to make the desired impact. Prioritizing the right sets of tasks, and making realistic deadlines are crucial. Otherwise, it runs the risk of deterioration in quality.
Besides time, budgeting poses yet another significant hurdle. Estimating costs and allocating budget is an indispensable part of all IT projects. However, due to poor budgeting decisions, an IT project can face setbacks. Thus, time and budget management call for proactive planning using product management tools.
- Situation: The IT team is handling two projects currently. The senior manager assigns yet another high-priority project that is to be delivered within the stipulated deadline. The team does not have the required time, budget, or resources to complete the project.
- Solution: The project manager must bring the team together to engage in discussions with senior management. It helps convey information about the existing workload, along with the limitations. Hence, based on priority factors, the team and management can collectively determine which project must be handled first. Accordingly, they can adjust deadlines and resources for the project using project management software for IT companies.
Scope Creep Management
One of the unexpected but preordained problems faced by IT project managers is that of scope creep management. When the project grows beyond the previously established boundaries, it can create unexpected issues. The original scope becomes vague if stakeholders continue to pitch in new requirements. Modifying the project every time is not a feasible idea if you want it to stay on track.
How do you address the problem of scope creep? It requires a clear establishment of objectives and outcomes, regular monitoring, and the establishment of formal change control processes. A designated authority must govern the project to approve or reject any scope changes. You should establish a clear communication channel to avoid any unnecessary or extravagant modifications. This can be easily achieved using project management software for IT companies.
- Situation: In your original project concerning website redesign, the team was supposed to make the necessary upgrades. However, midway the team head asks you for a complete overhaul of the content management system (CMS) in addition to the design changes.
- Solution: A CMS overhaul is a demanding project in itself. The IT project manager must map the feasibility of a CMS overhaul, and how far it will push the time and resource constraints. It helps determine whether you can expand the capabilities of your existing project.
IT project managers need to ask the right questions and align the interests of the stakeholders involved. Otherwise, there is a high probability of misunderstanding which can compromise the project. It may lead to silos, causing a conflict of interest. Moreover, documentation must be updated at each stage for better traceability. Project management software for IT companies such as PSA functions as a centralized interface for streamlined communication. It minimizes productivity loss due to unnecessary delays.
- Situation: Your organization is procuring hardware to expand its data center capabilities. However, there is miscommunication between the senior manager and your team. They thought you only require 1/4th of the hardware you intend to procure.
- Solution: Before proceeding with the entire procurement process, hold joint meetings to arrive at a common decision. Ensure alignment with the technical requirements of your enterprise. Keep cross-communication channels open for real-time information updates between the stakeholders involved.
Risk Analysis and Management
An IT project requires a comprehensive, fail-proof risk management strategy from the start. It is necessary to list the possible risks at the outset. The latest-generation project management software like PSA offers data points to prioritize risks for effective risk response planning. Also, incorporating real-time risk management goals is necessary for risk mitigation.
- Situation: Your IT team needs to deploy financial software for billing and invoicing in an enterprise. You expected everything to go as planned, however unexpected errors arise in the software. It ends up disrupting transactions and sending invoices to random clients.
- Solution: A proper risk management team must be assigned to resolve issues that happen unexpectedly. The bug removal process requires the personnel to effectively reassess risk and resolve it at the earliest. Any IT project must involve proactive risk analysis using project management software to map the possibility of risks before it creates disruptions.
Ever-evolving Technology Landscape
The technological landscape is changing at a rapid pace. Once an IT project starts, it takes considerable time before completion. Since technology undergoes frequent changes, it is a challenging task for team members to continuously stay on track with it. Moreover, customer demand also tends to mold with tech upgrades. Hence, maintaining a scope for flexibility is crucial to accommodate indispensable changes elemental to the project’s success rate.
- Situation: Your IT team has been working for a manufacturing company on an automation project for the past few years. However, the dynamics of automation have evolved with the prevalent use of real-time data analytics and IoT sensors, as these have emerged as the industry standards. You did not incorporate it at the start. But now it is crucial to improve your project’s scope.
- Solution: Ensuring flexibility in the IT project is mandatory. Map the feasibility of the project to pivot your project and ensure its relevance thoroughly. It will strengthen the baseline of your automation project to bring best-in-class products to the market.
Types of IT Project Management Tools
There are various types of IT project management software tools offering a range of functionalities to plan, execute, track, and manage the project. These tools minimize disruptions, boost efficacy, and enable smooth coordination across the different stages of IT project management. It functions as a centralized interface to get visibility and keep stakeholders updated in real time regarding the project status.
For All Kinds of IT Projects
- RACI Charts: It is a project management tool that helps delegate tasks and responsibilities to the team members. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. The information is presented in a matrix format. One axis lists the tasks against another axis that provides details on the member to which it is assigned. Thus, it helps in conflict resolution and traces accountability for each task. It also enhances collaboration and clarifies roles and responsibilities for better management and understanding between team members.
For Projects to Accommodate Tasks with Incremental Modifications
- Kanban Boards: IT project managers leverage Kanban boards in their agile methodology. It helps visualize work and understand the work breakdown structure. The board divides tasks into smaller, manageable units. Hence, the stakeholders can easily identify bottlenecks and track progress. Regular reviews open possibilities for continuous improvement. With proper checklists, it optimizes the workflow.
For Projects with Task Dependencies
- Gantt Charts: If you want the best visual representation of your project flow, Gantt charts are the ideal tools for the same. It allows IT project managers to sequence tasks in a logical manner to effectively understand task dependencies. You can easily determine how the tasks are interconnected. It gives key insights to understand the timeline and the overall duration of the project. Gantt charts thus opens opportunities to make the right intervention and make informed decisions.
Example of IT Project Management
An information technology team needs to redesign a website for a popular e-commerce platform. When the stakeholders come together to develop a proposal for website redesigning, the IT project manager ensures that the interests and outcomes align. In the given IT project example, you as a project manager need to navigate through the various stages of project management to get the desired results.
- Initiation Phase: This stage involves determining the project goals and asking the right questions. Identifying the current state of the website and addressing why it requires redesigning is necessary. Map the feasibility of time and budget with your project idea.
- Planning Phase: In this phase, you will lay down the roadmap. You need to set up a team and identify the strengths of each member. From the start itself, you need to ensure that each member is keeping detailed notes of their respective tasks.
- Execution Phase: It is the execution stage in which the project sees the light of the day. Maintaining proper project documentation and record keeping is necessary for easy access and use. Objectives must be clear and without ambiguity. For instance, “The objective of this website redesign project is to facilitate innovative transformation to increase appeal towards the e-commerce platform. The interface should be intuitive, attractive, and should have the necessary tools.” Smooth functionality will ensure better customer retention.
- Monitor, Control, and Closure Phases: The variability of IT project success needs to be determined in the closure stage before it enters the market. The team needs to map the performance metrics to ensure product quality and stakeholder acceptance. Using IT project management software tools, you can better map the distinction between project and product scope. It helps you stay within time and budget limits and meet the quality and compliance standards.
Why Use ProductDossier PSA Software to Optimize Project Management Flow?
Looking for the ideal solution to simplify your tasks as an IT project manager? ProductDossier PSA provides you with core tools to cover the five stages of IT project management with enhanced efficacy. PSA is embedded with high-end tools. You can easily build winning and profitable project proposals with the right project management software tools. It effectively supports your opportunity-to-cash cycles.
Get real-time access to information, work breakdown structure (WBS), risk management, collaboration tools, and more with PSA. With this ultimate project management software for IT companies, you can get a competitive edge to stay ahead of the market. Bring reliability and speed to project management only with PSA.
There are innumerable challenges you will encounter when managing an IT project. But, with a thoroughly planned strategy and the best IT project management software, it will steer you in the right direction. This will help you unlock opportunities to shorten the time-to-market for your product and match customer expectations. In doing so, you can establish credentials for your team and enterprise in the market for better profitability.
What software do IT project managers need?
IT project managers require all-in-one software offering a range of features and functionalities. IT project management software such as PSA has key features and tools to help you achieve stringent results. It helps you manage various phases in the life cycle of a project. From defining objectives, to the final phasing out, it enables effective alignment with desired goals.
How is project management used in the IT industry?
Within the IT industry, project management helps to ameliorate the risks involved in a project and increase the chances of success. It allows the IT project manager to cover both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the project and drive the project toward generating specified outputs (deliverables). It helps track time, costs, and risks involved effectively.
What are the IT project management projects?
IT project management projects involve planning and determination of use cases to build products for a wide range of fields. It involves managing resources including humans and resources, budgeting, and reporting progress. The major industrial domains for these projects include networking, cloud computing, software integration, and other technical fields.
Can a project manager work in an IT company?
Yes. IT companies hire project managers to take the administrative lead and responsibly close the project. It is the project manager’s role to bring the team members together and ensure consensus regarding time, budget, and resources to match the deliverables. Moreover, they need to track progress reports and implement corrective actions to improve success rates.