Three Keys to Ensuring Success in IT Project Management

Three Keys to Success in IT Project ManagementNearly 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.

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

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