Any business project that your team undertakes will come with certain challenges. IT projects, in particular, can be tricky to successfully navigate.
No matter the size of the project—from seemingly basic software updates to engagement of a new technology partner or adoption of a unified communications system—the results can significantly impact your business. Poor execution, which comes in a variety of forms, can create issues that range from inefficient implementation to problems with far more severe consequences.
The constant changes in the technology add an additional factor of risk to IT projects in particular. Yet the right project management system can help to eliminate many of the barriers to successful completion of these projects.
This guide will take you through the steps you need to properly manage your next technology project.
Stage one: Definition
While it may seem basic, the definition stage is likely the most important of the entire project. This initial phase is where your organization formally defines the purpose and scope of the project in question.
A solid understanding of the current situation, the users, and specific requirements are essential to correctly beginning an IT project. This also includes accommodating regulations that apply to your organization, from GDPR to healthcare requirements.
Stage two: Strategy
After the new technology project has been clearly defined, a strategic plan can be made for completing it.
A comprehensive plan—one that thoroughly considers cost, timing, risks (including security and network risks), communication, training and evaluation—will make the entire process go more smoothly for all of your team members who are involved, even if it involves implementing multiple new technology solutions.
Stage three: Execution
With a clear definition and proper planning, the execution stage can be the simplest aspect of your IT project. This third stage involves following the strategic plan through to the project deliverable.
Throughout the execution portion of your project, regular communication and updates will help the project stay on track and prevent unwelcome surprises as deadlines approach.
Stage four: Evaluation
No project should be completed without taking the time to review its success or failure. The evaluation stage of an IT project should include determining whether or not the project’s goals are met, as well as identifying aspects that went well and those that could have been improved.
This stage not only offers insights on the undertaking that was just finished, but the feedback can also contribute to improvements in future IT projects. Even the review of affected systems already in place can reveal new opportunities for growth and increased efficiency.
Stage five: Conclusion
Depending on the nature of your IT project, it may be a more ongoing activity that is constantly evaluated and improved, such as the use of new tracking and analytics software. Even in these cases, the initial implementation project should be given a formal conclusion.
This phase is an opportunity to close out completed aspects of the project and recognize the contributions of team members.
Projects that maintain a timeline and budget can still be a failure if they don’t meet the needs of the end user or aren’t fully understood. The $110 million upgrade of Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system left uncompleted by IBM is just one example.
Thoroughly following each stage of project management is important to successful completion of your next IT undertaking, regardless of the size.