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Part 1: What is Project Management and how is IT Project Manager unique from project management in other industries.

According to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), a project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result’. A project can be in any field or industry such as healthcare, construction, technology, and so on. 

The PMBOK also describes project management as the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet project requirements’. I will like to add here that the project requirements vary by projects but for the most part, project requirements are satisfying and managing stakeholder expectations, managing the triple constraints (schedule, cost, scope), and meeting the objectives for which the project was initiated which are return on investment.

Every project is assumed to have 5 process groups through which it progresses. These are the initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing phases. Within each of these process groups, 10 knowledge areas have to be managed for a successful project. 

The 10 knowledge areas

  1. Project integration management ensures that the right decisions are made when it comes to identifying, combining, and coordinating all the project management activities from the different process groups.
  2. Scope management ensures that all project requirements are satisfied.
  3. Schedule management ensures that the project is completed at an agreed time
  4. Cost management ensures that the project cost stay reasonably within the allocated cost
  5. Quality management ensures that the project deliverables meet the set quality standards
  6. Resource management ensures that the Human and material resources are managed to perform optimally throughout the project duration
  7. Communications management ensures that information is effective and readily available to all project stakeholders through the right channels and with the right frequency.
  8. Risk management ensures that all project positive or negative unknowns are planned for without negatively impacting the project
  9. Procurement management ensures that the process of acquiring any external products, services, resources, and what not are carefully managed.
  10. Stakeholder management ensures that all project stakeholder’s needs are met while the project is being implemented

Each of these knowledge areas will be managed through the standard phases or process groups of the project-Initiation, planning, execution, monitoring & controlling, closing. Note that these processes are different from the phases of a software development lifecycle. For example, the design phase can have a design initiation, design planning, and design execution phases.

IT (Information technology) project management is simply the process of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing on IT projects. Any project that deals with IT infrastructure, information systems and computers can be considered an IT Project. Depending on the technology and scope, IT projects can quickly become very complex requiring requisite skill sets in areas such as security to get them to successful completion. The complexity of IT projects usually is a result of several unseen factors relating to continuous technology changes; integration to third-party applications; security integration amongst others. 

Below are some areas you will encounter in an IT project and throughout this website I will be cover different projects that had each of these components.

  • Web Development
  • Database Management
  • Software Development & Implementation (Web or Mobile)
  • Data Mining
  • Cloud Computing
  • Network Configuration
  • Hardware Installation
  • Network and Computer Security
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

IT projects are considered unique and quite unlike project management in other industries or sectors. Ambiguity is a major challenge: IT projects are comprised of a host of intangible elements like program codes, cloud, bugs which could lead to different people having a different understanding of what the end product should be.

Other reasons why IT project could be plagued with unending challenges include:

  • A lot of unknowns in a bid to be innovative: The tech world is the fastest growing industry in a few decades and there has been a lot of innovations especially in areas of AI, ML, Data Science, Cloud. Some of the areas are still new and saddled with unknowns which makes it difficult to estimates task efforts associated with them. An activity that was originally estimated for 1 week could run into several weeks.
  • Technology is constantly changing so IT projects are sometimes plagued with compatibility issues especially when an older technology is to be integrated with a newer one.

The challenges are endless with IT project management but there are risk management strategies that can be applied to mitigate these risks, avoid them altogether, or even accept them. Note that setting the right expectations with key stakeholders for risk items could help cushion the effect of an otherwise disastrous occurrence. Watch out for my articles on common IT problems and how to manage them.

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