Effective Project Management Is Key to the Success of IT Initiatives
Having the right personnel and skills are critical to the success of any project, especially IT projects. Yet the difference between a successful project and a failure can often be attributed to how the project was managed. Many IT projects will be directed by a person valued more for technical knowledge than planning and people skills — a skills gap that dooms the project to failure.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), just 73 percent of projects completed in 2020 met original goals and business intent. Only 62 percent stayed within budget, and just 59 percent were completed on time. While that represents an improvement over 2019, it still reveals the importance of effective project management in achieving desired outcomes.
SirviS has developed a project management framework that helps ensure every project is completed on time and within budget. Our project managers have business acumen as well as technology skills, and an understanding of the unique time, budget and personality challenges of technology environments.
Off to a Good Start
The first step toward a successful project is the project initiation — defining what the project will accomplish and its budget in terms of both time and money. The project manager conducts a discovery meeting to determine if the project as defined will meet expectations. The initiation phase results in a written framework that formally outlines the project scope and schedule.
The next step is to create a work breakdown structure that documents the incremental steps required to complete major tasks. This is where many IT professionals can become bogged down trying to outline every detail. The SirviS project managers have the experience needed to clearly outline the project’s “critical path” — the priority of activities required to complete it — while leaving enough flexibility in the details to accommodate unexpected issues.
The project manager then determines what resources will be required and develops a scheduling and communication plan. A risk management plan documents potential problems areas — supply chain disruptions were a significant concern in 2020, for example — with contingency plans for dealing with them. A quality management plan ensures that tasks are completed according to project specifications and the client’s satisfaction.
Reaching the Finish Line
If the initiation and planning stages have been done correctly, the project execution stage primarily involves updating reports, measuring variances and monitoring the critical path to ensure the project stays on track. Unforeseen challenges are dealt with according to contingency plans.
In addition to keeping in touch with project teams, the project manager will be responsible for interacting with vendors, upper management, nontechnical employees and others. Project managers also take steps to avoid project “creep” when the actual work strays from the stated purpose and project definition. If changes are required, the project manager will explain any impact on cost, timing, performance and other variables.
An often-overlooked part of project management is the closing documentation and sign-off. While many projects trickle off rather than end in a bang, SirviS project managers establish a clear endpoint. We provide a completion report and other documentation, and discuss project successes and failures with stakeholders. An operational transfer plan establishes a smooth transition to the production environment.
Project management requires more than just IT skills and knowledge of the latest technologies. Business and leadership skills are just as important. SirviS project managers have extensive experience heading up projects of all sizes, and coordinating the resources needed to ensure a successful outcome.