If you find yourself at the helm of a complex information technology (IT) project there are five key areas to consider. For background, though, remember that a project has a specific beginning and end date, meets a business objective such as producing a unique product or service, and has deliverables. There are business deliverables, product or services deliverables, and project management deliverables. Within that scope, and depending on the type of IT project, there are many components to be managed. Some of the areas include:
- firmware / hardware
- web or website component
- network or Internet
- storage for information
- disaster recovery
Each of these areas is pretty complex in and of itself. The project manager may manage the entire project and those responsible for managing each of the IT components, as well as be responsible for delivering the project management deliverables. With IT projects we find there are five key areas that are commonly encountered and need to be monitored.
- Multiple Vendors/Partners. It is typical for multiple vendors or partners to supply the infrastructure for a project, i.e., servers and other hardware components, databases, etc. Every vendor comes with their own expectations, assumptions or constraints that must be captured and incorporated in the overall project charter or project plan.
- Changing Versions / Releases. Things change so rapidly in IT, whether it is firmware or software improvements that come along. IT projects can last some time, so when some of these changing versions or releases occur in the middle of a project, they have to be incorporated. You have to constantly monitor because you don’t want to find yourself developing or implementing something on an old version that isn’t supported.
- Complex Dependencies. There are complex dependencies among the components of an IT project that need to be monitored and tracked all along, specifically with receiving and laying the underlying infrastructure. If there are delays or any kind of risk to receiving the infrastructure by the specific timeline, it can impact some of the other deliverables, such as if the databases aren’t created or refreshed or populated in time, or if the firmware is out of date or has bugs. Many times teams have one person designated just to monitor and fix bugs in firmware or other components. Even the disaster recovery plan actually needs to be executed to test it, which impacts other components.
- Integrated Testing. As each component of an IT project is built out it needs to be tested, but there also needs to be an overall integrated testing. With complex dependencies that can be difficult at times, as you have to make sure all of your resources who are providing these components are available at the time you begin doing your integrated testing.
- Support. Most importantly, if you have issues with any area of IT project delivery provided by a vendor or other partner, make sure you have support if something goes wrong and you need the issue escalated in a timely manner.
Jennifer Whitt, PMP is a speaker, trainer, Certified Performance Coach, author, and company president of PDUs2Go.com. She is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and knows how difficult it can be to make time for classroom or online learning so she has developed a new way for Project Managers to Earn n’ Learn while on the go. For more information, please visit http://www.pdus2go.com
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