What every IT Manager needs to know about Project Management is that there are best practices that, when socialized into an organization, can greatly enhance the success of projects. Adopting Project Management will make the work of effectively managing change in the IT environment easier and more consistent. Picking a framework and tools that suit your organizational culture, familiarizing the entire organization with the chosen framework, and training staff in the use of and reasons for the tools can make the handling of changes more consistent, efficient, and successful. The IT Manager and the Project Manager are not at odds. The Project Manager’s ability to focus knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques on the temporary endeavor frees the IT Manager to focus on keeping the wheels of commerce turning.
Despite such similarities and differences, it is important for the IT Manager to know the basics of formalized project management. Why? Because every organization needs to be able to implement change.
What’s a Project?
Change is the reason for projects. A project is a one-time, multitask job with clearly defined starting and ending dates, a specific scope of work to be performed, a budget, and a specified goal or outcome to be achieved. The typical amount of time, energy, and focus required to get a project done would place an unacceptable burden on any IT manager, if added to current responsibilities. Enter the project team.
With members from many parts of the organization, project teams must be able to interact successfully in order to plan and complete the project. Everyone in the organization will be affected by what the project team does, so the more members of the organization understand about project management, the better they will be able to support, guide, and interact with the project team. Although, many organizations have trained Project Managers, IT Managers can still benefit from project management frameworks that describe best practices such as the Project Management Institute’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and the United Kingdom government’s PRINCE2® (PRojects IN Controlled Environments). It’s not necessary or possible for everyone in an organization to be project management professionals, but it’s important for the entire organization is to select an approach to managing projects and socialize it in the organization.
The Project Manager
Someone is needed to focus on the initiation, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing of the work of the project. However, the Project Manger does not perform the activities that make up the project, hence the purpose of the project team. The IT Manager supports the project by providing staff resources and by lending authority to the Project Manager. Unlike IT Managers, who have positional authority, Project Managers derive their authority from the project charter. The IT Manager can facilitate project success by adjusting workloads and priorities to free up project team members.
The Project Process
The PMBOK® Guide defines Project Management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.” Simply stated, it is a process-oriented approach to defining, doing, and measuring the work required to get the desired outcome. It is in the familiarity and facility with the tools and techniques of formal project management where the Project Manager diverges from other managers in the organization. The professional Project Manager has the ability to match the framework to the organizational style and culture as the result of both training and experience.
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