IT Project Management
Effective Management of Technology Projects
IT project management is a sub-discipline of project management in which information technology projects are planned, monitored and controlled.
As an "accidental" project manager, I used to think the challenges I faced and the mistakes I made were the result of my background (or lack of same). I have come to the conclusion that regardless of your level of project management training, there are some pretty common mistakes made by a lot of project managers. It doesn't really matter whether you espouse Waterfall or Agile, if you make these mistakes, your project will likely fail.
Many job roles have claimed the title "project manager," but in reality they are a far-cry from the traditional role with responsibility for the initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, control and closing of a project. So how can you be sure you are recruiting the right person?
Albert Einstein has been widely quoted as saying "There are two things that are infinite, the universe, and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe." Like most people, I usually write this off as an amusing, sarcastic quip he made on a bad day. I mean, it can't possibly be taken literally, right? Then I wander across a news item or business situation that make me wonder if maybe he was on to something. In spite of common sense, again and again I encounter companies repeating tragically avoidable mistakes, hamstringing themselves with the same ludicrous errors their competitors (fortunately) are also making.
My fascination with the technology industry stretches back to the early '80s, and since that time I've seen countless IT tools come and go with little fanfare. Those that have managed to persevere and actually withstand the test of time, though they may not be glamorous, have proven vital to business operations and I cannot imagine life at this point without them. These tools often keep a business running smoothly, providing efficiency, security, and convenience to their users.
When dealing with IT projects, using specialised project management techniques will be very beneficial to your ongoing progress leading to a much higher success rate in the long run. Planning and carrying out IT projects can be tricky for a variety of reasons, making the ability to complete them successfully a very valuable asset to any employer.
Modern computer languages with their high-level constructs have come a long way since the early days of assembler programming. And with more and more people taking computer classes at school, programming skills are now more widespread than ever before, allowing even relative novices to produce professional-looking applications. But to truly join the ranks of the professional coder, several elements need to be put in place.
High profile IT project failures are nothing new; in fact few projects are 100 percent successful in delivering everything the customer wants on time and within budget. So it is small wonder that businesses put loads of effort into trying to minimise the risk of their projects becoming one of these statistics.
The software development process has undergone drastic changes over the years. Initially only requiring a developer to write the code of the software, advances in the industry have expanded development into a more complex process. Involving architects, analysts, programmers, testers and users to develop code, it is now capable of delivering more advanced results. You can avoid some of the most common problems that occur with software development by understanding the three most common reasons for project failure.
Considering whether or not your software company should hire a dedicated team of testers? Here are the Top 5 Wrong Reasons why you shouldn't. After reading dozens of opinions on the subject, I'm still convinced that having a dedicated team of testers is well worth the investment. You can disagree with me, but if you do, make sure it's for the right reasons.
Most successful web design projects are organised into a system of milestones with each one representing a critical piece of the project. Milestones are simple in concept, but they can be tricky to nail down. For example, how specific should we get with the milestones? If we get too specific, we risk breaking the project down into a chaotic mess of little chunks. However, if we aren't specific enough, the deliverables become unknown and nothing gets done.
Sometimes I wonder after years of software development whether the way we work has changed very much. Sure, technology has moved on at pace, but has our approach to running software development projects. Users remain baffled by techno speak, developers prefer to invent rather than reuse and know what is best for you before you tell them what you want, while projects often miss deadlines and exceed budgets.
Every IT project is driven by a business requirement. For an IT project manager, the hard part is translating that business requirement into an end product that fully meets that business need. It's easy for a project manager to sit in a meeting and listen to what the clients say they need their new system to achieve. But what happens when what the client asks for and what you think they mean are two different things? When your solution misses the mark, you're the one your client will blame, leaving you wide open to a lawsuit.
The Standish Group collects information on project failures in the IT industry and environments with the objective of making the industry more successful and to show ways to improve its success rates and increase the value of the IT investments. The latest results have been compiled into the CHAOS Report 2009 published by the organisation in April.
Managing large software projects can be quite difficult under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, individuals with limited or no experience often rely on survival tips from more experienced co-workers and other individuals in-the-know. To help you, I compiled nine helpful tips that will undoubtedly improve your software project management experiences.
Design walkthroughs, if done effectively, are one of the most powerful quality tools that designers can leverage to detect defects early and take steps towards continuous improvement. But what is an effective design walkthrough? Here are some guidelines and best practices for planning, conducting, and participating in an effective design walkthrough.
Software projects are like a military operation. As a commander (manager) you have to take care of the movements of your troops, or else your soldiers will be crawling all over the place. That's the whole point of giving a software project a goal: you give self-organisation a proper direction, without getting on your knees and building all the roads yourself.
Human beings, organisations and software projects share one important thing: they have no intrinsic goals. The goal of something that emerges from interacting parts is not determined by the goals of those parts. However, extrinsic goals are an entirely different matter.
A survey of IT experts revealed 43 percent of their organisations had recently killed an IT project. The study, conducted by ISACA, an independent IT governance group, highlighted the top 5 reasons these organisations named for terminating projects prior to completion.
Many project managers are extremely successful in their role by simply managing a project plan and checking off tasks as they become "100% complete." They're able to manage teams, create budgets, assess risk, pretty much perform all of the basic and yet complex project manager duties. And more importantly, they're able to do these things without having to dig too deep into the technical details. They can lean on the technical lead to solve all of the technical issues.
Depending on the structure of your organisation, the project manager is most likely the person who interacts with the broadest range of stakeholders. Sure the managing director will intermingle with project managers, business development, maybe even the client at early stages. But a project manager will interact with all these people and more; most notably, technical staff such as programmers and graphic designers. And let's not forget the client; a project manager will probably spend the largest amount of time with them compared to anyone else.
When you manage a new project to streamline an organisation's website or to develop a new website, you must gather input from many people inside the organisation. In "Content Management Bible," Bob Boiko has authored a section on the requirements process. His process concerns finding out what site users expect from the site improvement or the new website you will develop.
Many project teams have faced the time when they need to make a major decision. Should one try to custom build a solution or buy an off-the-shelf product and customise it? These solutions can run the gamut of being a full enterprise class package that does nearly everything but feed the dog to small programs or libraries that do something very specialised such as drawing graphs or providing encryption functions. Frequently, a wrong decision can result in cost overruns, project delays, or a solution that does not fit business needs very well.
Business requirements are solved either by building a new system or by buying a readily available product or by a combination of both. The 'Build vs Buy' decision is made by the stakeholders after weighing various parameters. A 'Build' decision results in tailor made projects (also known as bespoke projects or custom development projects) whereas a 'Buy' decision results in product or package implementation projects. The technical, functional and managerial challenges vary between these two categories and therefore the practices during project execution vary as well.
When undertaking a software development project, an effectively designed closure plan serves as an outline of required tasks that must be carried out appropriately in order to result in successful project delivery, and adequate preparation is one significant element when it comes to ensuring a smooth transition to implementation. The closure plan must be considered at the outset of the project, as the client outlines their specific software requirements.
For a long time, IT professionals were apt to believe that ITIL and project management certification (PMP) were conflicting frameworks, and you were either certified in one or the other, but rarely both. The ITIL framework and project management framework both serve different purposes to be sure, but when combined within an organisation, they ultimately create great synergy. The ITIL framework, a lifecycle that addresses the way an IT organisation operates, is first and foremost business driven and answers the question "Are we doing the right things?" The project management framework addresses the implementation of projects throughout the organisation, requiring that companies ask "Are we doing things the right way?"
Has your company developed entirely new software or added to software already in use throughout the organisation and found the process cumbersome, frustrating, and sometimes not living up to expectations or meeting organisational goals? If so, the solution to a smooth and effective development programme may be as easy as staffing a well-qualified project manager and adopting a proven development process.
One of the most challenging aspects of Enterprise Architecture (EA), and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) in particular, is that rather than address a discrete problem or set of problems in the enterprise, it attempts to address a range of interconnected and perplexing issues that have long troubled IT. Specifically, SOA approaches to EA address long-term issues of integration in environments of continued heterogeneity, application development in the face of continuous change, governance, management, and quality in environments of continuous complexity, increasing reuse and reducing redundancy across multiple IT initiatives, and organisational and methodology approaches that favour iteration over monolithic, waterfall-style approaches to development.
The shortage of skilled IT workers is not like global warming. We are certain the worker shortage is real, and we are definitely feeling its effects now. Heavy users of technology tend to focus on how the worker shortage is affecting them most directly; that is, their present inability to fill open technical positions. Perhaps less obvious is the impact the IT worker shortage has on organisations' use of outside vendors and consultants for their projects. Vendors and consultants are also finding it difficult to hire the talent they need, which is limiting their engagement capacity and growth opportunities.
All projects start with one common theme: a vision of where the project will end. Whether you're building a skyscraper, designing a piece of software, or creating a new website you've got to identify the scope that the project will fulfill. The second thing that all projects have in common is their desire to accomplish one of two business fundamentals: increase revenue or reduce costs. Let's talk about increasing revenue through one of the most prevalent channels to your organisation: your website.
Must project managers be technically savvy? This topic always seems to cause quite a stir. While some believe that all you need to manage a project is a PMP certification, others are convinced that you can't successfully manage a software development project unless you truly understand the intricacies of the product.
Studies on project failure are easy to find and make depressing reading. Gartner studies suggest that 75% of all US IT projects are considered to be failures by those responsible for initiating them. But what do they mean by failure?
Managing your website development need not cause you sleepless nights providing you learn the secrets of successful project management. Perform the best practices in project management and give your project the best chance of success.
Although you may be tempted to manage the e-commerce project yourself and to use the consulting firm's developers as extensions of your own staff, try to resist the urge. Your consultant's estimates and timelines are only valid if they are allowed to manage the Internet store project to your specifications. They should provide a project manager, who will likely be your main point of contact, to be responsible for managing resources and timelines on the project. Having someone on the consultant's team also may help to keep the scope of the project under control.
There are a number of problems with both traditional and RAD methods of controlling custom and or complex IT projects. Many projects would be improved if expert help and more time were spent restructuring the project at the start to help the IT supplier clarify the design choices and the IT client clarify the business requirements. Whilst this does involve an explicit acceptance that money will be spent "investigating" and "researching;" this is actually nothing more than bringing present good practice out into the open.
Between cost overruns, project delays, unfulfilled expectations and quality control issues, less 30% of IT projects are successful. This is unfortunate because, conducted and delivered well, projects are one of the most powerful ways IT contributes to a company's bottom-line. Use these six rules to get your project back on track today.
How well equipped do you feel to carryout an IT development project. Do you always get the best from your team, engage your stakeholders and retain their interest to arrive at a successful conclusion? This article looks at some of the behaviours managers need to display to run successful IT development projects.
Have you ever wondered how much time and money organisations spend developing or buying duplicate software applications just because they do not know they currently exist. Experience and research suggests that organisations (especially large decentralised organisations) spend a large part of their IT budget on unnecessary duplication. What if we put this money to better use elsewhere, or use it to improve the quality of current application development?
Let's start with a worrying statistic. According to the Standish Group only 16 percent of software projects are successful, 53 percent challenged and 31 percent cancelled. Failure has become the IT industry norm. So what can we do about it?
What is the best approach for successfully managing IT projects, knowing the theory or applying your experience? This article aims to provide some answers and suggest the best way forward to ensure a successful outcome for your future projects.
There is often a misconception that managing an IT project is difficult. Avoiding the common pitfalls of IT project management is not rocket science, it is simply a case of taking some sensible measures. This article identifies 5 killer mistakes of project management and their solutions.
"Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them." - Steve Jobs
"First, solve the problem. Then, write the code." - John Johnson
"Data is like garbage. You'd better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it." - Mark Twain