With the accelerating development of information and communication technologies, the growing and ever-more demanding needs of users, and a constantly changing economic context, IT projects are becoming increasingly complex. IT project management becomes a delicate point for any company; their mastery and success are essential, regardless of the size or type of project.
To put the odds on your side in your IT project management, basic principles apply. In practice, a method will accompany you in the different phases of project management, from the definition of objectives to the achievement of deliverables, through the allocation of resources and the direction of the schedule. What are the best practices to implement? Let’s see in this article how to manage an IT project in a few steps and our software selection to make your job easier!
What Is Meant By “IT Project”?
In the common sense of the term, a project is a set of coordinated activities and actions which mobilize resources in a specific time interval, with a beginning and an end, to meet an identified need. Every project is unique and punctual.
The Actors Of An IT Project
In the realization of any IT project, different actors intervene:
- Project management ( MOA): this is the “client” of the project, i.e., the one who expects concrete results. It is up to this actor to define the objectives, the budget, and the deadlines;
- Project management ( MOE): this is the “supplier” of the project, i.e., the person who carries out the work. It is up to this actor to design and propose solutions, carry out tests before delivery, and respect the costs and deadlines set;
- The project manager: this is the “pilot” of the project, who assumes responsibility for it; its role is detailed below.
IT Project Priorities
To manage their IT or information system project, the project manager relies on qualitative and quantitative data to meet expectations on different levels:
- Costs: any action undertaken must respect the budget defined at the start of the project. Cost control notably involves anticipating the risks of deviation and implementing corrective measures to avoid any overrun of the allocated budget;
- Deadlines: the conduct of the project must meet the deadlines announced to the client by following intermediate milestones. Meeting deadlines involves identifying potential slippages in the initial schedule and implementing corrective actions;
- Quality: the execution of the project also involves validation phases with the various stakeholders. Quality assurance is enabled by verification of compliance with agreed requirements:
- that of the analysis → compliance with the specifications of the request,
- that of the design → conformity to the needs of the customer,
- That of the final product → compliance with the specifications established upstream.
The Specifics Of An IT Project
An IT project can designate, for example, the development of new software or the implementation of an information system solution, such as a technical improvement to change an organization’s processes. This may be the installation of a new software package of the ERP type (integrated management software package or Enterprise Resource Planning in English) or the CRM type (customer relationship management or Customer Relationship Management in English). In any case, the IT project is complex, and its conduct must consider its specificities. Thus, the approach to adopt is different and involves as much rigor as flexibility and its share of creativity. Let’s review its main steps.
What Are The Stages Of IT Project Management?
Step 1: Functional Analysis And Definition Of Objectives
During this phase, before the start of the project, the stakeholders define together:
- the objectives and scope of the project,
- the expected deliverables,
- the desired deadlines,
- the allocated budget,
A project can only be launched by considering its inclusion in a broader scope, such as the organization’s overall strategy. In this perspective, an opportunity study can be carried out to specify the project’s stakes. This involves demonstrating the rationale for implementing the technical solution and the future benefits it may bring.
In addition, a feasibility study can be carried out to identify the constraints likely to weigh on the implementation of this solution. Then comes the formalization in writing of the needs expressed by the applicant, following their precise analysis. Developing the project documentation ( cahier des charges ) is essential to keep a written record of all the project specifications to avoid any disappointment vis-à-vis the applicant.
Step 2: Detailed Design
In the wake of fostering the particulars of the general construction of the venture, we concentrate on the real issues at hand with its nitty-gritty plan in a few sub-steps:
- Breakdown and costing: to assess the overall cost of the project, it is a question of establishing the list of tasks by associating the corresponding needs and costs, aiming for completeness (i.e., including the sub-tasks and functions induced by the realization of another) to quantify the project as closely as possible. This estimate is presented to the client, who gives the green light before the launch.
- Planning: with a breakdown that generally follows the project’s development cycle, planning aims to order the tasks and indicate their logical sequence, considering the available resources and their maximum workload. By carefully planning your project, you ensure that you meet deadlines, stay within the budget, and deliver the required deliverables.
- Constitution of the project team: the project resources (human, but also material, technical, and financial) are identified and then assigned to the tasks (mesh). To form the project team, the selection of each member is essential; for the implementation of a technological product, they must be endowed with specialized skills and complementary.
Step 3: Project Development
The realization is the heart of the project, which comes after its rigorous design per the specifications. First, the coding phase, also called programming, involves translating the functionalities and other technical requirements defined during the design into a programming language.
Step 4: Testing And Integration
Then, the execution of unit tests will make it possible to ensure that the programming is of quality by verifying that each module or subset of the IT solution complies with the specifications.
- MOA tests: the product meets the needs of the contracting authority;
- User tests: the product provides the expected result to users;
- Non-regression tests: the installation of the functionality evaluated individually does not prevent another part of the solution from functioning correctly.
Finally, the integration makes it possible to check the interfacing of all project modules. For this, other technical tests (integration tests) are conducted, and their results are indexed in a document.
Step 5: Recipe
The tests will make it possible to develop a solution corresponding to the needs expressed upstream of the project. Acceptance, or acceptance testing, is the process of validation by the user of the conformity of the deliverables concerning the initial specifications. At the end of the acceptance, project documentation is produced to gather the information necessary for using the IT solution and with a view to its subsequent developments.
Step 6: Go Live
Once the project has been qualified, the IT solution can be deployed: this involves delivering the final product and its commissioning. It is essential to provide user training on the new features offered by the solution.
Step 7: Maintenance
Once the IT product is in production, the project implementation is not over. Indeed, an organization experiences changes and the solution must accompany the processes which continue to evolve. After commissioning, the IT product requires adjustments, which include both corrective and evolutionary actions :
- correction of malfunctions and technical bugs,
Production, therefore, does not mark the end of the project. It requires follow-up and maintenance to support the installation and improvement of the solution to guarantee its effectiveness and usability for its users.
Tips And Tools To Successfully Manage Your IT Projects
To facilitate the conduct of an IT project and ensure its success, let’s now see what can be put in place while keeping in mind that each project is unique; any procedure to follow is to be adapted to the particularities of your project.
Build Your Project Team Carefully
A project generally brings several stakeholders with different roles: decision-making, monitoring, expression of needs, assistance, and project implementation. The project team is multidisciplinary: it can be made up of information systems designers, coordinators, web designers, developers, analysts, etc.
Each member must be assigned tasks according to their expertise, availability, and ability to work as a team. Finally, many expectations rest on the shoulders of the project manager. The latter must have several strings to his bow, including skills in communication, management, animation, production, and technical bases.
Abraxio is a 100% DSI-oriented and ultra-easy-to-use software that allows you to reconcile the needs of all the stakeholders of your IT project and have them collaborate effectively in a single tool. From portfolio planning to project management, the solution offers a 360° view of the activity:
- It gives project managers and PMOs a flexible framework for the operational monitoring of their projects (Gantt, budget, staffing, weather, reporting, etc.).
- It automatically feeds a real-time portfolio view that allows you to manage the activity reliably and identify deviations at a glance. A boon for CIOs who can arbitrate, control the ongoing commitment of new projects, and communicate progress.
Ensure Good Communication Between Stakeholders
The coordination of the teams, whether internally or with external parties, is essential throughout the project. From the initial stage and throughout the process, participatory and regular modes of communication must be established to maintain a standard course and ensure that the objectives will be achieved or even exceeded. Thus, it also guarantees a reasonable adoption rate of the final product.
- monday.com presents itself as an intuitive platform intended to promote collaboration at work. Fully customizable, it adapts to your organization and your working methods. More concretely, the tool works on a principle of visual tables, gathering information about your teams and work. Add to that note or document-sharing features and get fluid and transparent communication.
- The Planzone software has various collaborative functions that support successful communication between stakeholders. We find, among other things, features such as sharing notes, notifications, and documents. The tool also provides a social network between the project members to open the discussion around the project’s problems, leave comments, centralize the actions, and advance the realization of the project.
Study The Reporting
To assess whether the implementation of the project and its expected results are effective, it is essential to evaluate several pieces of data and keep an eye on the key performance indicators (KPIs). Planning follow-up, activity monitoring, forecasts, reports, etc., will be as many parameters to take into account in the monitoring of the project, to take the appropriate measures if necessary.
To follow its indicators closely, it is ideal for including project management software equipped with such functionalities, like Planview. This software solution incorporates a dedicated analytics portal where in-depth reports and dashboards can be viewed, providing a complete view of work progress and resource usage.
Demonstrate Creativity And Flexibility
Despite all the efforts made to plan a project realistically, deviations (from the original schedule, budget, and specifications) are likely to occur. Any project management involves managing hazards and therefore showing great flexibility. Any program changes can also represent an openness to new ideas and thus leave room for innovation.
Indeed, as precise as the design is, it is challenging to integrate all aspects of the project before even launching it. Each method or directive chosen serves as a framework to guarantee the coherence of the whole but must not be so rigid as to paralyze actions and stifle all creativity.
Using a project management tool such as Planisware Orchestra ensures you bounce back smoothly from any potential slippage. The tool makes it possible to master the constraints of project management with its cost management functionalities, real-time monitoring of available resources, and assistance in reassigning resources, among others. In addition, this solution adapts to the conduct of any project, whatever your processes, your approach, and the methods adopted.
Choose An Effective Methodology
There are many methodologies in project management, such as:
- traditional methods: “cascading” (or Waterfall), critical path;
- Agile methods: Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming;
- Adaptive methods: methodology of the chain of events (or Event Chain in English), Extreme Project Management.
Specific methods are often used in IT project management, such as the Agile Scrum method, which provides excellent visibility and allows the team to be more reactive. It is well known to developers and applies very well to the development cycle of an IT solution.
- FoxPlan: complete French project, program, and resource management software. FoxPlan has the particularity of allowing the management of portfolios in hybrid mode with traditional (Waterfall, v-cycle, etc.) and agile (Scrum and kanban) projects. . The latter is notably possible thanks to the integration of FoxPlan with Jira, a dominant tool in IT organizations, as it combines code and ticket management. Thus, thanks to the cohabitation of the two methodologies, the teams gain agility while maintaining the course toward the roadmap vision for better management of resources and budget.
- iceScrum: to conduct your projects according to the Scrum framework with simplicity, the iceScrum solution is ideal. It offers a playful and structured work environment to facilitate the adoption of this methodology while promoting collaboration and communication between teams. You gain efficiency in managing user stories and features, planning sprints, and prioritizing the backlog.
- Sciforma: Sciforma easily adapts to the methodology used and supports you in your project’s work processes and specificities. The tool is compatible with Agile, critical chain, Prince 2, Phase-gate, PMBok, etc.
To meet the most demanding requirements and know how to master the most complex elements of project management, you can plan to acquire the critical skills of an IT project manager in a more formal way. The Orsys organization, for example, offers training to manage your IT projects, from the thematic module to the complete certification cycle, with different levels of certification offered at the end of the courses. The investment is substantial but can turn out to be a winner.
Equip Yourself With The Right Tools
Finally, by providing its team with the appropriate tools, you optimize the management of your IT projects. The online project management software presented above, which offers a rich range of features, deserves to be discovered and tested. Opting for fully configurable software capable of blending perfectly with your work processes and project methodologies is wise.
Thus, the Project Monitor project and project portfolio management software is highly adaptable, and thanks to its customizable parameters, it easily integrates into your information system. In addition, Project Monitor promotes group work through collaboration and communication functions. Regardless of the chosen project methodology, this tool offers a library of project templates to harmonize practices when several projects are implemented simultaneously in your organization.
Between Risks And Opportunities, The Balance To Be Found!
For any IT project, hazards can arise, and external factors come into play. It becomes crucial to measure the risks upstream, even if it is difficult to anticipate everything, which is all the more true in a constraining environment. These risks, likely to threaten the project’s progress, can become opportunities, in particular thanks to agility: agile methods promote change and, at the same time, offer the structure to respond to it to adapt to a specific context. Unstable.
Finally, the complexity of the projects comes in particular from users’ constantly changing needs. From this perspective, a successful project will foster innovation and place user needs at the center. The software presented in this article is designed to assist you in a personalized way in managing your projects while optimizing your work, thanks to the automation of processes.