It’s no secret that in today’s IT industry, Project Managers need to be faster, smarter and more flexible. As technology changes, you must also change with it. With so many fields being new, you need to adapt to new ways of working, as well as keeping abreast of new technologies. However, for IT professionals, there are several essential project management skills that remain key to avoiding delays, and ultimately, the overall success of your project.
With so many conflicting demands to keep on top of, one of the most critical skills in IT project management is being able to develop and control relationships with individuals that the project impacts. Are they a user of the system? Are they paying the bills? Are they part of the development?
Experienced Project Manager, Colin Kropach, spoke about the importance of stakeholders in our Under the Hood series, “Managing stakeholders is difficult because you’re getting a variety of different requirements and interests, and what you need to do is understand where they’re coming from and what’s important for them.”
By properly managing stakeholders’ expectations from the outset, you’re more likely to achieve the successful outcome you’re looking for. Although, even the best laid plans can go awry! Remember to avoid surprises and if problems arise, tell someone early! An issue that is raised early can often be fixed without drama but sweep it under the carpet and it’s often too late.
Not being able to deliver on a promised timeline is something that no Project Manager wants to hear, but it does happen and is often caused by unexpected issues. This is why much of the problem solving within IT project management revolves around being able to identify and manage this risk before it’s too late. By being on the lookout and identifying problems early, you can implement solutions before they put the project at risk.
Big Picture Thinking
Companies often look for IT professionals that can see beyond individual projects and consider the impact on the entire business. It might seem difficult when you’re right in the thick of the action but thinking ahead and looking at the big picture is crucial. Adopting this sort of mindset not only helps you to put the whole project in context but allows you anticipate changes and identify what is most important to its success.
Building a vision also helps to get everyone on board and pulling in the same direction. Although, without communication it often gets lost, so selling the vision to your team and stakeholders before you get started will help everyone feel the same passion and commitment towards the project as you.
Project governance, or the process you go through to gaining approvals, is also key to avoiding delays, especially if you stumble across various stages of approval that you weren’t aware of. Without knowing how long it is going to take to achieve different project milestones, you can easily end up looking silly in front of a customer who thought something would be delivered two weeks ago!
When it comes to sign off, it’s important to clarify corporate governance. Just because you have sign off at one level, doesn’t mean you have the board’s approval. Before getting started, understanding delegated authority and who must approve your work at each stage can save further headaches down the line.
As somebody who is responsible for balancing tasks – often across multiple teams and locations – not having a handle on your stakeholders can cause delays and put your projects in jeopardy. If you’re looking for support and advice on your IT project management career, we’re here to help so get in touch with us.
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