While project management can be quite a flexible job and different managers take different approaches to guiding their team, there are a few key areas where a lot of project managers miss the mark. With complex IT projects there is a lot that can go wrong and without a clear and decided game plan a project can quickly become disorganized.
Get priorities straight
With complex IT projects there is often a lot to do and organize. Sometimes each task has hundreds of different stages and deadlines don’t allow for much leeway. When the work is piled on this thick, it can often be difficult to maintain motivation or stay organized which can impact the success of the project as a whole. That’s why one of the first things you need to do when you begin to tackle a project is get your priorities straight and plan out the order in which you need to complete these tasks.
The planning stage of any IT project is the most important part. This is the stage where you can put together a clear picture of how the project will be completed. You should never rush your team into a project if they aren’t certain about what they’re doing. While it might feel like you don’t’ have enough time to plan, putting aside a few hours or a couple of days to get a few strategies going can potentially save you double that time later on where you might be stuck resolving issues you didn’t see arising or backtracking.
When your project is laid out step-by-step, tasks don’t seem as overwhelmingly big and, once you have decided which stages of your project need to be completed first, you can distribute them amongst the team early and get them done. At the end of your planning and organizing stage, you should be able to see your project as a flowchart, with stages set out consecutively and flowing into each other. A waterfall based methodology like PRINCE2 is a great tool to utilize during this stage of the project and can help you turn big, complex projects into more simple, manageable ones.
Places on PRINCE2 courses are becoming increasingly popular in the tech industry and IT sector because this project management methodology was designed specifically for these industries and their respective types of projects. PRINCE2 teaches you how to break up big tasks into smaller, more manageable ones as well as learn how to organize your time to meet small deadlines that lead up to your ultimate deadline at the end of the project.
Get on top of change and risk management
As great as it would be for your project to exist in a bubble where nothing changes and goes wrong, that’s probably not going to be possible. Complex projects that run on for months or years often run into little hitches and sometimes developments that can completely halt work altogether. When a spanner is thrown into the works, teams without proper guidance and management can feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to get back into the flow of the project. As much as you would like to prevent these issues completely, the best way to be prepared is to put together strategies to manage these risk and changes in order to get the project back on track.
Identify the risks early on in your project and assign responsibility of each risk to a person in the team. With each of these risks you should plan appropriate responses to tackle them, which will minimize the amount of time spent fixing problems. You can also better manage risks and changes by setting aside enough time for accurate testing. There’s little use in meeting a deadline if the end product isn’t functioning in the way that it should.
Monitor the team as well as the project
That isn’t to say that project managers should aggressively micromanage and leer over people’s shoulders while they’re trying to work. Monitoring your team isn’t about making sure that they’re working 24/7, but rather about checking in on their progress and keeping communication open. By having regular meetings and catch-ups you can recognize the team members that are struggling with their workload and reorganize tasks to take off some of the pressure. By regularly talking with your team you can also catch and discuss any problems or issues they may be having and bring the team together to discuss solutions. The right kind of project manager is one that gets involved with the team and doesn’t sit on the side lines and in order to stay informed and keep track of progress, regular conversation needs to be have between the team and project manager