IT project management can be tough. You’re under heavy pressure to meet tight deadlines. Suppliers run rings around you, bosses move the goalposts and power cuts seem to suddenly materialise from nowhere. IT projects need to be properly managed from the start, or a perfect storm can brew, sending the whole thing spiralling out of control.
IT project managers can take control from the outset and take measures to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Here are five challenges faced by IT managers. Solve them, and the project should run smoothly.
Demand Clarity about the Project’s Objectives
One major problem in IT project management is knowing what the project is all about. Right from the beginning, you and your team need to know what your bosses want to achieve with the IT project. Work out what needs to be replaced, and the stages you need to pass through to finish the job. Set milestones for the team to achieve along the way, with rough deadlines for each one, and make sure every member knows about them.
Set a very clear objective as well. It is vital to know exactly what constitutes “success” in the project, so that you can prioritise your work and use resources efficiently.
Gather Together a Specific Team
IT project managers are really only as good as the staff they have at their command, so make sure you recruit the best team members for the job in hand. Team members should have the technical ability and be able to communicate to the wider business effectively. Use internal planning tools to find out about each team members strengths and let them concentrate on what they do best, and give them the confidence to succeed.
Set Up Slick Communication Systems
Communication is vital to successful IT project management. One of the most common symptoms of a failing IT project is when the different arms of the team work in contradictory directions. Buyers could source solutions that technical staff aren’t trained to use. Technical staff could go beyond their remit and over-elaborate the project.
With instant messaging, e-mail, internal social networks and other communication tools, managers can keep in touch with their staff, even if they are visiting offices on the other side of the world.
Collect Relevant Data to Monitor Performance
One of the keys to succeeding in IT project management is knowing how well, or badly, your team is performing and the progress of the project. Set up data gathering systems such as ERP software can help build a dynamic picture of how much work has been done, and how much remains incomplete.
Monitor how issues that arise are affecting the project, keep an eye on costs and provide detailed updates to the key stakeholders. You can also keep track of any compliance issues, solving any issues that arise before they become critical.
IT Project Management Is Also About Motivation
Working with your team is another major factor in IT project management. With large teams, it can be easy to lose the personal connection to every member that you need, if you want to motivate them effectively. So schedule regular meetings with everyone present, or use communication tools to patch in absent members via video conferencing.
Set up milestones and social events to keep everyone connected. Team members need to feel that you value them, and that they are moving towards a successful conclusion.
IT project management is not simple, but it is manageable. All of these major challenges can be met with good planning, intelligence and the right infrastructure to tackle them. For example, with an ERP system in place, managers can gather data, manage staff and plan their projects much more easily. So think about that infrastructure, and keep everyone on the loop as you embark upon your next IT project.