Managing an IT Project

by Jesse Masters

T

he executives are on board, your budget’s approved and the resources have been allocated. Your IT project is a go. In no time at all your project will be complete an you’ll be the toast of the company. Leadership will marvel at the cost savings and efficiencies you’ve created, and as they gaze with wonder at their new digital dashboard, will reward you handsomely for your vision and hard work.

But before you start measuring the dimensions of your new corner office, consider that, according to a recent study, still more than half of corporate IT projects undertaken are deemed failures.

Managing successful IT projects can be an invaluable asset for career advancement, but being the first name mentioned when a project fails can be devastating.

Maximize your potential for success
Give your project the best chance to succeed by following these key principles:

  • Clearly define the business need – It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting the next new thing, particularly if you feel obligated to impress your superiors or keep up with your competitors. wanting, however, is not a justifiable business need.  instead of working backwards by creating a need to fit a solution, identify the friction points in your processes and look for the right solutions to alleviate those issues.
  • Secure strong project leadership – Buy-in from senior leadership is essential to your project’s success. investment from the top down ensures accountability and encourages clear and continuous communication between project stakeholders. as the project manager, you also play a leadership role in the project’s lifecycle. it’s your job to ensure milestones are reached, questions are answered and work is constantly tested for quality.
  • Set timelines/milestones and stick to them – A project timeline signifies structure.every project has it’s ebbs and flows, and there will be a need for minor adjustments as work is done, but making an effort to stick as close as possible to the agreed upon timeline will prevent the project from straying too far off course (and avoid the dreaded scope creep). milestones are smaller goals that need to be reached in support of the timeline.incorporating milestones gives the project team goals to reach, and celebrate, as they work towards completing the entire project.
  • Assemble the right team for the project – It’s deceptively easy, and cost effective, to look to in house personnel for your project team. before you begin assigning tasks, however, take some time to think about resource allocation and how that relates to your project timeline. in other words, what is the time investment for your IT department? is there available bandwidth to address this project while still focusing on the normal day to day assignments. if you are adding significant amounts of work, how will that impact your timeline and the quality of work (which will ultimately come back to you)? bringing in a dedicated resource from outside the company may allow you to stay true to the project timeline.

Managing a corporate IT project is a significant undertaking, one that will have lasting effects for both your company and career. By considering these factors, you will be putting yourself in the best possible position to succeed.

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