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6 tips for successful IT project management

According to PMI, organizations waste 9.9% of every dollar spent, thanks to poor project performance. This means—if you plan to spend a million dollars on your next IT project—you could be throwing away $99,000.

This statistic highlights something we already know well: IT projects aren’t easy to manage. If you want your IT projects to succeed, you need to invest in their management.

Here are six IT project management tips to get you started:

1. Ensure clear communication between all stakeholders.

Communication is the most important factor in determining the success of your IT projects. And it’s the reason most IT projects fail.

A project manager spends the majority of their time communicating with team members. But it’s also important to ensure they communicate well with each other.

Company politics is one of the biggest barriers to effective communication. For this reason, project managers need to be aware of the political dynamics that exist within an organization. They must ensure they have the buy-in of any key stakeholders.

Effective communication starts with effective listening. Pay attention to stakeholders when they share their concerns, opinions or requirements.

2. Identify and document any assumptions.

An assumption is something we believe to be true, without knowing for certain.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t make any assumptions. But the reality is that all IT projects have them. It’s important to document them as they emerge. That way, we can develop an appropriate risk management strategy.

It’s likely you will make assumptions about resources and scheduling (e.g. resources available at the right time). The project timeline will be dependent upon these assumptions.

If all resources are available when you need them to be, the likelihood the project will be delivered on time — and to budget — increases.

Likewise, each assumption that turns out to be false could impact the project timelines.

For this reason, all assumptions need to be documented. The PM can then manage them appropriately.

3. Choose the right project manager.

It goes without saying, but choosing the right project manager makes all the difference.

If you have an in-house project management team, you should have a good understanding of each PM’s strengths and weaknesses.

But what if you’re outsourcing your IT project management?

Prioritize values. Ask yourself: “Will this person fit in well in my organization?”

Remember, communication is key. If you know the person won’t be liked by people in your business, it doesn’t bode well for the success of the project.

You should also ask to see past results and client testimonials. There’s no substitute for experience.

4. Don’t skip the analysis phase.

Spend time at the start of the project defining the scope, requirements, and responsibilities.

It can be tempting to skip this phase. It’s likely your team members know your systems inside-out — but successful IT projects all have something in common: They start with a clearly defined strategy.

Taking time to document the requirements will prevent scope creep. Creep can be costly in terms of both time and money.

It will also ensure everyone knows what they are responsible for during the project. Imagine knowing you needed to back up your systems before implementation — but everyone assuming it was someone else’s job.

The results could be disastrous.

5. Find out the strengths and weaknesses of your team.

Many IT project managers focus too much on technology and don’t give the people a second thought.

We always recommend adopting a people-first-and-technology-second approach. After all, it is the people who will be delivering the project—not the technology.

Take time to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team. That way, you will be better able to manage your stakeholders effectively.

6. Choose the right methodology for the project.

There’s a lot of buzz when it comes to IT project methodology.

There are two basic approaches.

  1. The waterfall (traditional) approach, where each phase must end before the next begins.
  2. The agile approach, which is more iterative and focuses on shorter project phases, known as sprints.

So which is right for your project?

The truth is, you don’t have to choose. According to Liquid Planner, 56.6% of organizations use a combination of methodologies. Instead of following a particular methodology at all costs, figure out what will work best for your project, and adapt accordingly.