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What is an IT project manager and what do they do?
A project manager is responsible for the organisation and coordination of IT projects on a wide scale. Their roles may include:
- Setting up a dedicated office and team
- Communicating with staff, salespeople and clients about conditions and demands of the project
- Sustaining a working, expert knowledge on IT systems and their use within the project
- Controlling the budget and ensuring work is kept within its constraints
- Executing and delegating responsibilities
- Ensure the team remain focused on the business’s IT objectives and intentions
An IT project manager must work closely and liaise with higher management to achieve information technology (IT) project aims. Together, they must outline the extent and directional course of the project. Within this, they will outline a schedule for the completion of the project and specific aims that form part of the project. If the IT project manager is working with a team, they will then delegate each individual task within the project’s wider aims.
What is the IT project manager’s mission?
A successful IT project manager should always bear in mind the need to ‘make things happen’. They need to be adaptable and responsive to any situation as it arises, and to think creatively about how to fight obstacles. They must use all the resources available to them from their personal relationships and contacts to their ad hoc versatility to ensure they can successfully manage the development of the IT project.
This spirit of making things happen should be in all aspects of the IT project manager’s methodology. Furthermore, they will use this methodology to keep the project within budget and on time.
The role of PMI and Scrum in IT project management
PMI is the world’s dominant force in promoting and educating people in the work of project management. They are an association that work to improve the opportunities of project professionals through education and partnership. Beyond this, over the years they have set standards of practice that project managers in the industry adhere to. However, in recent years, gaps in the scope of the PMI’s PMBOK guide have become apparent. It has often mistakenly been used as a methodology for project management teams to follow. Some business commentators are now arguing that the PMBOK only contains a set of guidelines rather than a particular methodology. It is deliberately non-specific about practices that should be left up to the decision of the business itself.
PMBOK’s limitations – some deliberate and others not so – have led to the emergence of other systems that could more reliably be called a methodology such as Scrum. Scrum self-defines as ‘a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.’ Scrum is an agile methodology that is now being used alongside PMI’s more general guidelines of practice. Scrum pushes for the usage of a common language in the world of project management, leading to standards of practice and understanding that all can follow.
The major difference that has emerged between the two projects is that PMI (PMBOK) encourages the IT project manager to delegate tasks and designate responsibilities to their team. Scrum, on the other hand, urges project managers to work together with their team to develop responsibilities with each other. It means that these responsibilities develop organically and holistically, arising as and when necessary and subsequently solved.
How can they be successfully employed?
When used in tandem, both systems work well provided that the IT project manager follows these best practices:
- Communicate well with all project stakeholders from the very beginning
- Create a risk response team that will act as the first line of defense in the case of problems occurring
- Hold a project kick-off meeting with everyone in attendance
- Create a detailed work definition that everyone involved must agree to
- Draw up a comprehensive work plan that is modeled off previous or similar projects
- As far as is possible, document in detail the future tasks of the project
- Allow feedback from the project team on the progress of your work and ask for how you can help them better
- Communicate and outline the impact of project add-ons.
- Manage any changes in the original project’s scope
- Hold a wrap-up meeting to go over the lessons learned and ways you and the team can improve next time.
Use all available guidelines and methodologies to map out success
These two comprehensive and complementary systems work together to improve and standardise the way an IT project manager works. They serve to make working practices both the same for everybody in the team but also to make projects adaptable to potential problems and pitfalls. Most importantly, they provide guidelines to ensure that projects are kept within budget and within a specified timescale. Before starting, an IT project manager should keep up with all of the prevailing theory and opinion about methodologies and guidelines of project management to be certain they are following the most up-to-date and logical course.