Three Keys to Ensuring Success in IT Project Management

Nearly 10 cents of every dollar spent on projects is wasted because of poor outcomes, the Project Management Institute says. IT departments are under enormous pressure to make sure this doesn’t happen, and the right tools and strategies can help. Here are three approaches that can improve your success rate with IT projects.

Have visibility into data.

When a project fails, it’s often a result of poor planning. For instance, 26 percent of projects fail because they needed resources that were otherwise indisposed, according to PMI — and 25 percent fail because leaders wrongly estimated how much time they’d take. Having access to the right kinds of data can help you avoid these mistakes during the planning process.

The University of Baltimore has improved its IT project planning through the use of better data, and officials expect this will result in fewer projects that run over time or budget.

The university uses the TeamDynamix platform for both IT service management and project portfolio management (PPM). Using the platform’s dashboard, project planners can see instantly how IT staff time has already been committed. They can also track how many hours each employee is spending on various activities, which makes it easy to estimate how much time similar projects will take in the future — making resource allocation and project planning much more accurate.

With better insight, the university is reducing the likelihood that an IT project will fail because officials underestimated how much time it would take, or because the project required the use of employees who were already committed elsewhere.

Establish an effective intake process.

Organizations typically have more proposed work than they can deliver because their resources are limited. As a result, they have to carefully prioritize how they’ll spend their time and money.

The intake process is where IT project proposals are reviewed to determine how important they are — and whether they should get the green light to proceed, be tabled for a later date, or be rejected outright. An effective project intake process ensures that only projects adding enough value to the organization are approved.

Effective project intake requires a clear set of criteria for evaluating proposals, a process for doing so, and tools that can help measure value. For instance, a PPM system gives leaders insights into all of the projects in an organization and how they support the organization’s mission, as well as how much time and money they’re consuming. This helps leaders ensure that the most important, highest-impact projects are prioritized — and less important or riskier projects are deferred.

Focus on change management.

Change management involves thinking through the potential impact of making a change, such as a system upgrade or reconfiguration—and then developing a process that will cause the least amount of disruption. Effective change management can help prevent unforeseen complications, so your IT team spends less time resolving issues.

About 80 percent of unplanned downtime is accidentally caused by IT staff themselves, according to research from the IT Process Institute. That’s a pretty remarkable figure. For instance, a technician might be trying to update a switch, but it accidentally brings the entire network down. The problem resolution that ensues consumes valuable IT time, and it might have been avoided through better change management.

The IT team at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) uses TeamDynamix IT service management (ITSM) for change management. The TeamDynamix platform helps NEOMED IT staff plan effectively when making a change, to make sure they’ve thought through every implication first.

“We set up a special form within the system called a change form, and whenever a production change is pending, we have the technical lead fill out that form,” says Geri Hein, project manager within the university’s IT division. For larger changes, the change form is routed to a change control team that consists of Hein, a business analyst, the managers of the university’s IT infrastructure and database groups, and the IT director.

This process has increased communication within the IT division and helped with troubleshooting problems. Now, whenever a change is coming, the key people who need to be aware are automatically notified in advance, so they can weigh in if they foresee any risks or dependencies in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Changes are linked automatically to the ticket calendar feature within TeamDynamix, so IT staff can easily see which changes were made on which days. “If there’s a problem, we can go to the calendar and determine whether it was related to a particular change or not,” Hein says. “There have been a few instances where our infrastructure team made changes that we didn’t think would cause problems with our ERP system, but they did. However, we were able to track it back to the right source and easily resolve the issue.”

By adopting these three key strategies, you can avoid the problems that plague many IT projects and dramatically improve your rate of success.

This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated with new information.

You might also like:

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By closing this notice you agree to the use of cookies.