IT Project Management is a sub-discipline of project management wherein information technology projects are planned, executed, monitored and controlled. IT project management includes overseeing activities such as hardware installations, software development, network upgrades, cloud computing, data management, etc. IT Projects are the most challenging projects; IT Project Managers need to use specialized project management techniques and the best task management tools to assist in leading the project towards success.
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IT projects are mostly based on business requirements. The most difficult task of an IT project manager is to translate that business requirement into an end-product which fully meets the business need. IT projects are the most difficult to manage and that is reflected by the high failure rates of IT projects. The following factors contribute to IT project failures:
- Lack of professionals with specialized IT project management experience.
- Complications arising because of incompatible technology or malfunctioning hardware.
- Infrastructure changes that impact security or advancement in technology during project execution.
- Poor communication between developers, end-users and project managers.
So how does an IT project manager translate a customer’s business needs into a system that solves the customer’s business problem? The key to success would be sound project management. The first step in IT project management is to define the project’s vision and scope. During the project’s initiation, criteria for success or failure of the project need to be established. For example, to be considered successful, a project may have to adhere to certain quality standards (such as Six Sigma or an ISO program), complete as per budget, meet a particular deadline or deliver specific functionality.
There are many different approaches to manage IT projects that affect the project life-cycle. IT project manager may select one of these popular approaches to help reduce risks such as expensive re-work, fast changing technology, etc. However, there are three distinct life cycles in IT project management:
1. Predictive life cycle: This approach is the most commonly used project life cycle for IT. Here, the project manager defines the project’s scope, schedule and expected costs before the execution of the project. For the project to move from its initiation to its closure, each phase must begin and complete in the specific order as per the prior plan.
2. Iterative life cycle: In this approach to IT project management, the scope of the project is defined early in the project, but the cost estimates and timelines are planned at a later stage. Once the project is executed, the cost and timeline estimates are created through iterations in planning.
3. Adaptive life cycle: This approach uses an iteration of planning and executing, however, the planning process lasts for two weeks. Change is always expected and adaptive life cycle is ideal for managing software development projects.
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The various life cycles use the concept of phases to take the project work forward. A single phase specifies the type of work that will be completed in that portion of the project. The management style of project manager, the organizational goals and client requirements, greatly influence what type of project life-cycle the project manager will choose for a project. However, irrespective of management style, project planning software plays an important role in the success of IT projects.