Common IT project management mistakes and how CIOs can avoid them
August 23rd, 2017
IT project management is a key part of business success but it has never been an easy task. CIOs can frequently find themselves juggling cost, time constraints and new technologies, and more often than not this can be the case across multiple simultaneous projects.
While no two projects are exactly the same, they can often suffer from the same problems.
1. Being unclear about the goals
It’s important that everyone involved understands their role, responsibilities and deliverables so don’t underestimate the importance of a kick-off meeting. This should include all the key stakeholders and will help to define and set expectations. If all stakeholders are on board, they will focus their energy towards project completion rather than finger-pointing and complaining they were never consulted on the project outcomes.
You shouldn’t only evaluate your goals at the start of a project. As a project progresses, additional goals or outcomes may creep into the work – resulting in the infamous problem of scope creep. A CIO should take these additional goals, consider if the value they add is worth the additional project resources needed and make a decision on whether to include them into the project’s scope.
Even if an idea is not incorporated into the project due to detracting too many resources from the original project’s goals, it can be made into a separate project which is conducted later on.
2. Focusing solely on the project as one whole piece
While it’s good to see the bigger picture, focusing on the project solely in this way can make it seem overwhelming or unachievable. Instead, you should break the project down into small pieces and assign each one to the most appropriate individual. This will help to make the team feel more comfortable and confident as they successfully accomplish each task.
3. No prioritisation
When you have IT projects running concurrently sometimes team members may end up spending too much time on a lower value project whilst a higher priority one starts to slip. Clear and continual communication is important throughout the lifecycle of each project so everyone involved knows which tasks should take priority and when the priorities have changed. Being upfront can save a lot of potential headaches and hassle further down the line.
4. Little or irregular communication
While every CIO knows that communication is a fundamental part of successful project management, it can be all too easy to forget to set aside time for team meetings or to update key stakeholders. It is important to not only set aside time for regular meetings but to also establish a format for these meeting. Ensure the right people are attending the right meetings at the right time. Having too many people involved can slow things down so instead have key people from each project area attend to report on progress and updates, and then they can feedback to other team members.
5. Not using project management tools
It’s important to use project management tools so you can ensure the project is on track to meet the deadline. There are many tools available which give a good visual representation of a project and its progression
6. Failure to adjust
Even with careful planning and an established strategy, things do go wrong. It’s important not to let the “fear of failure” take over when a project goes downhill. Instead focus on creating a culture of transparent and truthful reporting, which will provide key stakeholders with the information they need for timely decision making. In this scenario, if a strategically important project were to go wrong, the business will be able to set it back on the path to success by adjusting the budget, resources or delivery expectations in line with the information provided by reporting.
7. No delegation
With multiple projects running at once it’s almost impossible for one person to try and stay on top of everything. CIOs need to know how to delegate and ask the right questions of their project managers.
Tackling IT project management issues
For some companies, it may be beneficial to outsource the project management function. This can be especially suited to businesses with low staff numbers, lack the right project management experience or have cash flow constraints.
External project managers can bring a level of objectivity to the role which can be highly valuable. Especially when it comes to setting project outcomes and deliverables and ensuring business requirements are met. It can also be cost-effective, as you’re hiring someone with the right experience for a specific project rather than a full-time resource.
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