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A Getting-Started Guide to IT Project ManagementReading time 7 minutes
The whole world is depending on IT today. Even non-IT industries like medicine, defense, and transportation are relying on IT to make their operations and tasks better, and the deliveries of their requirements happen as projects. Preserving the faith that the world has in IT is important. Hence, IT projects and their end products should be top-notch. To make sure this happens, IT projects should be properly overseen and managed through IT project management. This blog post is an introduction to the IT project management field. We will learn what IT project management is, what tasks it involves, and how project managers have evolved into product managers.
What is IT Project Management?
A project is a series of tasks that have to be completed in a particular amount of time. These tasks are determined based on what outcome you need from the project. The outcomes of IT projects can be IT infrastructures, software, applications, hardware installations, or network configuration—basically anything that involves IT. IT projects are not limited to IT organizations. Hospitals need databases, defense organizations need tracking systems, and the list goes on. Even though these are not IT organizations, these projects are IT projects. Every type of project has a different approach and has to be managed in a different way. Thus, IT projects need IT project management. IT project management serves three main purposes:
- Defining what the project is
- Deciding how the project will be completed
- Making sure the project is completed on time
IT project management oversees the complete project right from the start to its end. It’s the process of planning and organizing the teams in order to complete the project and to make sure the tasks are executed without any problems. There are different aspects of a project that project managers should take care of. Let’s take a look at a few.
Scope of the Project
This determines what problems the project should address and solve. The scope of the project should be clearly defined and approved so the teams know what they have to do. A project manager (PM) has to establish all the features, functions, and tasks of the project and communicate all of it to the stakeholders.
Once the tasks are defined, the PM has to plan the schedule for the project. The PM has to consider the number of people who can work on the project and how much time they can contribute. Then an estimation of time for every task should be calculated. And finally, the schedule should be made. The schedule can contain timelines for each task, milestone, and the completion of the project.
There should be no compromise with the quality of the project. That’s one of the main reasons why IT project management has come to existence. Various metrics can be used to measure project quality. These metrics should be defined right before the execution of the project. Once the project starts, the tasks and processes have to be continuously monitored. If PMs see any decrease in the quality, they will have to find its cause and try to find a solution for it.
PMs have to estimate the cost of the project so that the budget can be approved. The estimated cost should consider areas like the price of hardware and software, services, licenses, and employee salaries.
IT projects are getting more advanced and complex day by day. PMs divide the project and assign it to multiple teams to break down the complexity. Different teams take care of different tasks and events. The teams work on the integration of the project, which PMs have to oversee. And once the project is complete, intermediate outcomes are integrated to get the complete project in one place. The PMs have to ensure that things are on track and that the teams are on schedule.
Risks are the potential threats that can harm the project directly or indirectly. If you don’t handle risks properly, they can sabotage the project. PMs have to come up with strategies to mitigate risks so that the project goes smoothly.
IT Project Management Life Cycle
IT projects have a start and an end. And so does IT project management. The lifespan of IT project management can be divided into different phases.
The initiation phase is when you research and decide what your project is going to be about. You find real-world problems and requirements that people are looking for. After this, you have to brainstorm with relevant teams to discuss whether the project is feasible and practical to complete. It is also important to understand how the organization will benefit from the project.
In this phase, the PMs and relevant teams discuss how to complete the objective. PMs create a complete blueprint of the project. You have to collect all the requirements, decide on tasks and milestones for each team, and set deadlines. Planning is an iterative process and can be changed depending on varying requirements. So it’s good to have flexible plans.
This is the phase where the project actually starts taking shape. All the teams and individuals work on their respective tasks. The PMs work on keeping the tasks on track and making sure that no team or individual faces any problems. PMs receive regular updates from the teams to check the status of the project. Teams can report any bottlenecks, and the PM can suggest solutions to solve them.
Monitoring and Controlling
Project managers contribute the most in this phase. Monitoring and controlling happen in parallel with execution. When teams work on their tasks, PMs monitor how the teams are working. They monitor the scope and quality of the project. They have to keep track of the expenses to ensure that the costs aren’t going over the approved budget. Risk management and controlling the effects of risk on the project are also important. Monitoring the execution also lets you know the value that each process is adding to the final product. With this information, you can use value stream management to reduce waste in the process.
This is the final phase of the IT project management life cycle, where you verify that the tasks and the project are complete. While closing generally means closing the complete project, you can also close tasks and milestones. You enter the final closing phase only after the project is complete. You can create detailed documentation of the plan, execution, cost, and timelines. After verifying, you will deliver the project to the customer. These are the typical phases of the IT project management life cycle. You can implement these phases using different development methodologies, such as the waterfall model or the iterative development model. Project managers play an important role in the completion of the project—in each phase from the start to the end. A project manager is the captain of the IT project management ship!
From Project Management to Product Management
Projects are temporary objectives that have a finite start and end, while products are ongoing services that solve problems. Usually, multiple projects form a product. Even after you have a final product, it’s not the end. You will have to continuously work on making the product better. Project management and product management are very similar. The only difference is that product management is a continuous thing. The skills required to be a project manager and a product manager are mostly the same. It’s mostly about experience and capability. You start as a project manager, and once you have enough experience, you are ready to be a product manager. The transition from project manager to product manager is not very difficult. It’s just that you’ll have to manage things on a larger scale than you would as a project manager. As a project manager or a product manager, it’s important to have visibility over the process. So, if you’re an aspiring project or product manager, check out Plutora to make IT project/product management easy. Plutora gives complete visibility and control over the software delivery process.