IT Project Management for Beginners

January 1, 2014 Marcus Varner

Project management plays a significant role in a variety of industries and fields, such as software development, engineering, construction, marketing, research, IT operations and more. So, when we ask "What is IT project management?", the simple answer is those efforts involved with managing the processes and activities associated with ensuring the success of IT projects or systems management related responsibilities. But it can also include the management of any IT project outside of those types of organizations that deal with IT infrastructure, information systems or computer technology in general.

To more fully answer what is at the heart of IT project management, it helps to consider a few more questions. What is an IT project? What are the typical associated activities? What is an IT project management methodology? What project management software, system or solution best fits my needs?


What is an IT Project?

As implied above, an IT project can be any type of project that deals with IT infrastructure, information systems or computer technology. This can include software development activities, such as programming a simple mobile app or a programming large scale software system. IT projects sometimes involve Web development, including updating a web page, creating an online shopping site, or developing an entire Web infrastructure. Other common examples of IT projects include designing an organization's IT infrastructure, deploying systems and software, and employing IT security measures.

The following represent a few IT project categories:

  • Research
  • Service
  • Software development
  • System deployment
  • Change management
  • Infrastructure
  • Needs assessment

What are Typical IT Project Management Activities?

IT Project Management Image

The early stages of any project management within the world of IT involve assessing, prioritizing and planning potential IT projects. This includes determining the scope of work and available resources, assigning resources, and setting expectations for project milestones. An IT project manager can expect to take on other project management activities including coordinating the project workload and workflows, managing the actual work, facilitating communication and collaboration between team members, producing project deliverables, and measuring project's results.

What is an IT Project Management Methodology?

For an IT manager, project management methodologies are all about specifying the best way to initiate, plan and execute IT projects. Waterfall and Agile are two of the most prominent methodologies used in IT project management settings today.

Learn how Workfront lets teams with different project management methodologies work in the same space.

Considered a more traditional methodology, Waterfall employs a sequential, top-down approach to IT project management with the goal of eliminating risk and uncertainty upfront. As a relatively new methodology, Agile has grown in popularity with its change-driven approach that gives IT project teams the dynamic ability to quickly adapt to needed changes or course corrections. Since each project management methodology has its advantages, some IT project managers implement more of a hybrid approach with their teams, using the methodology that makes the most sense for the specific IT project being considered. To learn more about how these methodologies work, check out our post "A Beginner's Guide to Project Management Methodologies."

What IT Project Management System Best Fits My Needs?

It depends. Individuals or small groups that only need to manage small IT projects might be able to get away with using spreadsheets and email. These simple tools pack a lot of power, but they lead to significant inefficiencies, miscommunications, and other problems as projects grow in size. This leaves IT project managers looking for a better solution.

Solutions designed specifically for IT project management can simplify and enhance the efforts of IT project managers and IT teams, but you have to be careful. Many of these solutions focus primarily on managing project execution, while neglecting other important IT project management activities, such as project assessment, prioritization, planning, collaboration, and reporting. Some only support a specific project management methodology. The complexity and cost of many project management software or solutions make them difficult to use or make available to everyone who needs them.

The best IT project management system is one that facilitates all aspects of management, supports multiple methodologies, is easy to use, and is relatively inexpensive. It also makes a big difference if the solution centralizes collaboration efforts and provides the high accessibility and real-time collaboration offered by the cloud.


About the Author

Marcus Varner

Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.

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