The world of IT has grown incredibly quickly over the past decade or so. Today, no company, regardless of size, scope or niche, can truly see success without some sort of information technology integration. This might be as small as a POS system integrated within a retail store's LAN, or something as complex as in-house mainframes and servers for a highly complex network. Regardless of the type of business, IT project management techniques must be understood in order to truly gain the advantages necessary. IT project management requires some specific steps in order to be successful, and you'll find further information about those steps below.
You might think that IT and general project management are roughly the same, and you'd be mostly correct. IT project management is certainly a subset of project management, but there are some key differences here. For instance, IT projects are often more difficult to achieve than other projects, which leads to a higher percentage of failure. According to recent studies, this is due to a lack of proper preparation prior to launching a particular IT project.
General project management and IT project management might have some key differences, but they also have serious commonalities. For instance, all projects (IT or otherwise), must adhere to the three constraints (4 if you follow certain thought leaders). In addition, all projects must move through the five stages found within traditional project management methodology. These include initiation, planning, executing, control/monitoring and closing.
The Problem Areas
There are several areas that cause problems for IT projects. While all five steps are important, most project managers find that they run into issues in only a couple (but they're serious). What are these areas?
First, many IT projects fail due to a lack of proper planning. Initiating is usually done correctly, but many project managers/teams fail to plan correctly for the entire project. Without proper planning, it's unrealistic to expect success. Not fully developing the team, not harnessing the correct resources and incorrectly measuring the duration of the project in question are all problems you'll face (and need to overcome). The key to success in any project is proper planning. Without it, there can be no reaching of goals except through sheer dumb luck.
Another hurdle for IT projects is the fact that they do face some unique challenges. The world of technology is very complex, and IT projects will encounter issues with hardware, software, conflicts between the two, physical challenges (moving actual machines in or out, running cabling, late deliveries of new equipment, etc.) and more. Security considerations, budget constraints and too few people on the team also lead to failure for IT projects.
You'll find that IT projects also fail because the manager or management team fails to understand that this is not so much a project as a program. Due to the immense complexity with IT projects, it's actually better to break them down into small projects within a larger, overarching program. By breaking a project with a very large scope down into smaller projects, you create achievable goals that can be reached in a systematic fashion. Unwieldy scopes simply lead to failure.
IT Management Methodologies
Like all other types of project management, IT projects must have the right management methodology in place to see success. While a diverse number of methodologies is used in the world today, not all are a good fit for the IT world. There are only a few methods that work well. Traditional project management is one of the best options, as its highly structured system ensures that proper planning, budgeting and goal setting is possible. Extreme project management can also be beneficial (particularly since it was designed with software development in mind).
IT project management is complex, but it doesn't have to have a high chance of failure. The right methods and approach will help ensure success.