How to Size Up
Managing IT projects is complex and difficult work. With so many variables, factors, and moving parts to consider, it can be overwhelming and nearly impossible to effectively track and control everything manually – or without some systematic assistance, at least. Given the gains in productivity, efficiency, and performance that come with successfully completing IT projects, IT project management solutions are a key component to an organization’s overall health.
Without help from appropriate IT project management solutions, projects can quickly get out of hand and fall off course. By utilizing ineffective manual methods only, you run the risk of:
- Missing Deadlines
- Unnecessary Project Delays
- Neglecting Critical Tasks
- Poor Team Communication
- Allowing Work to Fall Through the Cracks
- Failing to Put a Risk Management Plan in Place
- Unclear Project Goals and Objectives
- Improper Work Distribution
- Task Assignment Confusion
- Poor Resource Management
- Overspending and Budget Overruns
- An Over-Abundance of Errors and Corrections
- Project Frustration
- And Eventually…Project Failure
While any IT project management solution would probably help you avoid many of these issues, finding the right solution for you and your team will allow you to minimize the risk of their potential impact on your project, as well as streamline your processes, achieve your goals with more regularity, and help you reach greater, more consistent success.
With a variety of options available and a great deal of features to consider with IT project management solutions, it can be difficult to know where to begin when choosing. Understanding how IT project management solutions support your needs can help you avoid wasting time on trying out tools and solutions that aren’t a good match. To ensure you’re making a good decision, here are some helpful ways you can size up IT project management solutions:
Understand Your Needs
Selecting the most appropriate IT project management solution begins with a forthright and honest assessment of your unique needs.
If you have an existing solution, where does it fall short?
There are many reasons that the progress of an IT project could be hindered. In some cases, there could be unforeseen complications that might simply be unavoidable. In others, delays and missteps may regularly occur at the same points in the workflow, or may be caused by similar inefficiencies. Pinpointing where things start to go off track can help you hone in on an IT project management solution that can fill those gaps, and make the entire project lifecycle easier to manage.
What to target in your new solution
Take stock of what project management features your team could really benefit from, and prioritize those needs based on importance and impact on your workflow. Planning, scheduling, customization, access controls, compliance requirements, and lack of in-house expertise, are just a few examples of key features to consider. By taking an accurate inventory that’s reflective of everything you need in an IT project management solution, you’ll be able to quickly narrow the field of choices. But don’t forget about:
Whether you’re utilizing Agile, Waterfall, Hybrid, Scrum, or others, make sure that your new solution can support your current, or typically-used project management methodologies.
- Your Teams:
A new IT project management solution is going to impact different roles in different ways. Additionally, the size of your team, and whether it includes internal team members, external, or both, can also impact your needs.
Consider your organizational and structural needs for tracking task assignments, communication, due dates, priorities, files, and more. Task detail, subtask breakdowns, and visualization needs are evaluative points to keep in mind.
Clarity of task assignment responsibilities and other project-related duties is a critical component to a healthy IT project management solution. Your new solution should allow you to easily see tasks, assignees, dependencies, deliverables, start dates, due dates, and more.
Appropriately reporting progress to key decision-makers and stakeholders is a major part of managing IT projects. Having the ability to easily generate useful reports with meaningful project insights to share with leadership and teammates should be a top consideration of any new IT project management solution. Status updates, real-time progress tracking, and customized data reporting are just a few examples.
There should be confidence that your new IT project management solution is going to keep your critical business data safe and secure. In addition to general security features, the solution you choose should also offer admin controls for you to manage employee and guest access when you need to, set password requirements, set privacy permissions, and set levels of authority.
Gain Centralized Collaboration Capabilities
In today’s modern business environment, effective collaboration is critically important to day-to-day operations and organizational achievement. Without it, organizations often find themselves working from behind and consistently playing catch-up to their market competitors. In IT project management, ineffective collaboration can ground IT projects before they start, and effectively deny the opportunities to increase productivity, optimize workflow, and advance innovations, that organizations would leverage to increase their market share. But as important as it is, effective collaboration in IT project management can be very difficult.
One of the major reasons effective collaboration is so difficult is that IT project management teams often lack a shared workspace. Instead, they waste time searching for related communications and feedback through email, and their goals, task assignments, files, and more, are spread across multiple tools – making for a very inefficient, and ineffective way to progress through a critical project.
With your new IT project management solution, ensure that all of your communication and collaboration can happen in one, centralized location.
- Communicate in task:
Having the ability to communicate within a centralized tool, and on specific tasks themselves, can help streamline work, provide context and easy access to background information, as well as give every involved team member visibility of all pertinent discussions.
- Cloud-based collaboration:
If your organization is offering more and more remote, or flexible work arrangements, you’re probably utilizing cloud-based tools (or soon will be). If so, ensure that your new IT project management solution can be aligned with those requirements.
- Stay mobile:
As your IT project management team becomes more remote, you’ll need to provide them with every opportunity to stay up-to-date and in touch with each other. Solutions including tools with mobile apps can help keep your workforce focused, and your projects on track.
One collaborative workspace
Without a centralized workspace, you run the risk of having unconnected, separated team members wasting time duplicating each other’s work. With all of the nuances, complexities, and variables that come with an IT project, this confusion and lack of synchronicity can happen very easily if team members are having to search for plans, files, and assignments in multiple places.
As you assess new IT project management solutions, consider whether or not you can:
- Easily find applicable projects, connect to them, and share them as necessary
- Manage digital assets within projects themselves
- Integrate any new tools with existing business-critical tools
Is Your New Solution Going to Be Flexible Enough?
An ideal IT project management solution is going to help your team focus on the business-critical innovations and highly-important projects that help drive future business success. Furthermore, your new solution should provide you with enough flexibility that you can effectively manage projects of any size or scope, and quickly adapt to changing conditions.
Different solutions are going to offer different levels of visualization options. Some offer a wide variety, while others offer a more narrow assortment. Depending on how your team needs to visualize your project’s reportable data and information, and what data elements you need to see, there may be some solutions that simply don’t match up with your needs.
Oftentimes, different team members go about their work in different ways. Work styles and preferences vary, and if new tools and solutions are inflexible to meeting those variables, those new tools and solutions won’t last long. While each organization’s specific situation is unique, generally, to ensure your new IT project management solution can meet the diverse needs of your team, it should be flexible in these areas:
- Existing Workflow Alignment:
While some changes to your current processes might be ok, the most ideal IT project management solutions should be flexible enough to support your existing processes and workflows.
- Meaningful Status Updates:
Task assignment titles and project status descriptions should be well-aligned with your organization’s nomenclature and classifications.
Some people are visual, while others may be more verbal. In any case, your new solution should not force a team member to view their task assignments, required deliverables, or responsibilities in a way that’s uncomfortable for them.
- Project Structures:
However your team members feel it makes the most sense to structure the workflow – using subfolders, portfolios, hierarchies, or others – your new solution should be supportive of those strategies.
- Varied Approval Accommodations:
Depending on the task or action, the approval process may be different for your organization. Additional approvals may even be necessary if there are multiple levels of authority.
Kick the Tires
Implementation and adoption of a new IT project management solution is often a very challenging and complex task. While a quick and easy adoption would clearly be optimal, it rarely happens that way, and it’s in your best interest to learn all you can about any potential new solution before jumping in with both feet.
Utilize a Free Trial, or Demo
Take the time to try out a potential new IT project management solution during a set free trial period to give your team an opportunity to test functionality and look for gaps or areas of improvement. In an allotted time, you may even be able to work an entire project and mimic the real process as much as possible from start to finish to really get a sense of how the new solution fits your organizational needs.
Consider any inherent difficulties with setting up projects, uploading documentation, implementing with existing business-critical tools, and more.
Support Resource Availability
Assess the availability of tutorials, trainings, demos, guides, courses, or more that team members could either request or utilize on demand. Furthermore, test the availability of customer support, and how long it takes to get answers to your questions in real time.
Evaluate the user experience through in-depth discussions with assigned team members. Keep the lines of communication open and get feedback to find out if your potential new solution is easy to use, understandable, and aligns with your objectives – or where potential weaknesses might be.
Accurate Evaluation is Key
If you’re going to evaluate more than one solution (and you really should), it’s helpful to have a system in place to easily illustrate how well each potential solution matches your needs. This can help make the evaluation process much easier, and can ensure whichever new solution you choose will fit your team’s work style and requirements.
Does Your New Solution Fit Your Budget?
As is the case with any business decision, budget is a major determining factor. Depending on what features, tools, and services are included, as well as its level of complexity, IT project management solutions can have quite a cost variance. The key is to select a solution that will give you the most value for your money based on your unique criteria, needs, and requirements.
Because the budget is such a critical factor, you’ll want to gain a comprehensive understanding of your new solution’s costs so you can plan accordingly. If it takes longer to implement than originally intended, for example, it’s likely that costs will increase – causing budget overruns if not taken into consideration.
Additionally, you’ll also want to ensure that the solution you choose can be scaled accordingly with future needs. While you want a solution that meets your existing requirements, you also don’t want a solution that will have to be replaced within a short time of implementation due to business growth or rising costs.
Avoid Pricing Surprises
Ensure that your solution comes with cost transparency, so term after term you have predictable, defined costs that allow you to better plan your budget and utilize resources appropriately to support other projects and other areas of your business.
Flexible Pricing Plans
Financially, your organization may feel most comfortable with a particular pricing plan. Be it a monthly fee, a flat rate, costs per person, or others, aligning a solution with your payment needs can help you determine which solutions are best suited for you.
Consider Your IT Project Management Software
Adopting an appropriate IT project management software is an ideal way to minimize the potential missteps of manual project management through the use of spreadsheets and emails. While finding the one that’s best-suited for your needs can be overwhelming given all of the choices, doing so can have innumerable productivity and efficiency benefits, and increase your chances for project success.
Consider IT Project Management Consulting
As with other business consulting models, a consultant would supply the resources and offer advisement, but you would still retain the responsibility for managing your IT projects. If you’re in need of a guiding hand or specific expertise that you don’t have on staff, consulting should be considered.
Consider IT Project Management As A Service
IT project management as a service is a managed service approach to project management in which a hired partner manages all aspects of an IT project, and becomes responsible for its performance. If it’s discovered during your assessment that your organization lacks the in-house resources to effectively manage IT projects, or the expertise to ensure they’re completed on time, IT project management as a service might be an appropriate solution.
An IT project management solution isn’t just for a project manager, it’s for your entire team. Choosing the best one for you and your team can be a difficult task, and one that should not be taken lightly or done quickly. By understanding your team’s needs and challenges, you can better narrow the list of potential solutions, and ensure you make a good business decision.
Contact Us today
and we’ll show you how Enterprise Integration’s IT project management expertise can ease your burden and help you select the best solution for your organizational requirements.