What is IT Project Management?

IT project management involves a structured approach to planning, organizing, leading, and controlling information technology projects. There are various types of IT projects that an organization could undertake, including:

•         Software development and implementation

•         Hardware installations (e.g., servers, desktop computers, or telephony systems)

•         Network system upgrades

•         Data management

Project Life Cycle

For any IT project, the project will have a start point and an end point, and the part in between is known as the project life cycle. There are generally five phases for all projects.

To illustrate these phases in the management of an IT project, let’s look at a company that is replacing all sales force laptops with tablets.

1) Initiation –

A sponsor and a governing team (sometimes called a steering committee) are appointed, and they clearly define the goals and objectives for the project. A project manager is assigned to the project, a project team is recruited, and the project charter is created.

For the project in our example, the sponsor could be the Head of IT, and the steering committee could consist of the Head of IT, the Procurement Manager, and the Head of Sales. The objectives of the project could be to replace all sales force laptops with tablets by June 30, 2016, and to do so within a total budget of $20,000.

2) Planning –

The project manager and the project team work together to define all the deliverables, or intended outputs, of the project, and then plan all of the tasks needed in order to produce each deliverable. Each task is assigned a start date, end date, and responsible person(s), and all of the tasks together roll up into the project plan. The project planning processes can be repetitive in nature, and it’s quite normal for planning to occur often throughout the project.

For the project in our example, deliverables of the project could be the specification for the tablets to be sourced; the Request for Proposal documents to go out to suppliers; and the tablets, training plan, and training manuals to be used to teach the sales force how to work with their new tablets. The project plan would then be constructed by listing all the tasks required to produce each of these deliverables, and each of the tasks would be assigned a duration, start date, and end date.

3) Execution –

The project team executes the project plan to create the deliverables of the project.

For the project in our example, the team would begin working on all the tasks listed on the project plan. For instance, regarding the specification deliverable for tablets to be sourced, the team would begin gathering the requirements for the tablets, then drafting the specification, then reviewing the specification, and finally approving the specification.

4) Monitoring and Controlling –

As the project is being executed by the project team, the project manager monitors and controls the work of the team for time, cost, scope, quality, risk, and other factors. The project manager regularly reports the project status, as well as any issues and risks, to the project sponsor and steering committee. To ensure that the project meets its objectives, monitoring and controlling is also an ongoing process.

For the project in our example, the project manager would schedule meetings every week or every two weeks with the project’s steering committee to update them on the project status, project budget, and any major issues and risks. For example, if the supplier appointed to supply the tablets suddenly went out of business, this would pose a major risk to the project, and the project manager would need to report this to the steering committee immediately so that they could issue a directive.

5) Closing –

At the end of each phase of the project, and at the end of the entire project, project closure ensures that all of the project work has been completed, is approved, and that ownership of the project deliverables have been handed over from the project team to operations.

For the project in our example, once the tablets have been procured and rolled out to the sales force, the sales team has been trained on how to use their new tablets, and there is an IT team in place to provide ongoing end-user support to the tablet users, then the project can be closed.

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