In IT, projects have become more complex as technologies rapidly change and end-users demand greater ease-of-use and flexibility. For an IT project manager to achieve their objectives, it is imperative that these initiatives are completed on time and on budget.
Discover what it means to manage IT projects, common challenges faced by IT project managers, and tips to make your next IT project a success. You’ll also find helpful resources, like guides and free templates.
What Is IT Project Management?
IT project management (ITPM) is the process of managing the plan, organization, and accountability to achieve information technology goals. Since the reach of IT spans across most of a business or enterprise, the scope of these projects can be large and complex.
The magnitude of IT project management often means that it’s more than just applying knowledge, aligning skills, and using regular tools and techniques to drive a project to completion. IT project managers deal with the challenges of interdependent integrations, rapid technology upgrades, and version changes that can occur throughout the project timeline.
The IT Project Management Lifecycle
The ITPM lifecycle includes the five basic phases of project management, but the main difference for IT project management is how the project lifecycle is managed.
The most common ITPM method is the Waterfall methodology, which involves a predictive linear process. The entire project is defined before starting, and each phase is initiated and completed before moving on to the next phase.
Another lifecycle method is the Iterative method, which uses a more incremental approach. The iterative or incremental approach repeats phases, and each iteration completes the planning, analysis, and design phases with the ability to deliver on a specific goal at the end of the iteration.
IT project management may also use an adaptive lifecycle, such as those found in Agile methodologies. This style is even more flexible than the iterative approach by condensing timelines into shorter activity bursts called sprints.
Main Responsibilities of an IT Project Manager
Today’s IT project managers (IT PM) must be able to juggle a wide range of tasks and responsibilities. They must be able to handle firmware and software integrations, website construction, database storage and management, and also build complex and geographically diverse infrastructures and networks, all while planning for potential security and data risks.
Throughout their projects, an IT PM is responsible for setting goals, communicating and motivating team members and stakeholders, identifying the right resources for each task, researching, managing change, performing needs assessment, and properly sequencing tasks.
Additional responsibilities of the IT project manager include the following:
- Project planning and overall management
- Promoting and achieving project support
- Ensuring overall capability with existing technology
- Minimizing duplicate work
- Utilizing team member skills
- Controlling costs and maintaining budgets
Challenges Faced by IT Project Managers
The complexities and interdependencies of large-scale, long-term, diverse IT projects are among the most challenging issues of IT projects. Here are a few more top challenges faced by IT project managers:
- Making multiple assumptions when integrating different hardware, networks, and software to the existing system.
- Unclear expectations from the business, end-users, and stakeholders.
- Rapidly changing technology, leading to necessary mid-project upgrades that can affect timelines.
- Geographically diverse offices and remote work associated.
Tips for Successful IT Project Management
Successful IT project management combines the implementation of standard project management best practices with the art of managing conflict, change, expectations, and more.
The first step is selecting a project management methodology that fits the skills of your team and the project objectives. Once you have that set, here are some tips to help make your next IT project a success:
- During initiation: Be sure you have assessed whether the project is a good use of resources and whether the project outcome will satisfy a business need.
- During planning: Complete your project charter, and have a good understanding of task dependencies and how missed milestones could impact overall timelines.
- During execution: Over-communicate and host daily stand-up meetings to discuss status and any project blockers.
- During monitor and control: Ensure you have the right PM tool in place that enables you to monitor progress in real time.
- During closeout: Do a project retrospective that answers what went well, what could have been better, and what you would change next time.