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Project management in IT: basic principles

Project management is an activity aimed at achieving the set goals, realizing certain ambitions, using available resources – time, people, capital. The project management is based on planning for short-term or for a longer period. Whether it is the development of new software, the holding of an advertising company or the development of a new electric car – the correct project management makes it possible to succeed.

All projects are different. There is no perfect project management system suitable for each type. Also, there are no ways that would fit every leader and were convenient for all team members. However, during the existence of the project management, many effective approaches, methods and principles that can be adopted are created.

The need for project management

As a rule, the project has several stages. The number of stages, their need for the project, and the degree of control required for each stage are initially determined by the nature of the project, its complexity and the industry where the project is being implemented.

The developed approaches differ from each other. They differ in terms of application, detail, self-sufficiency and formalization. For convenience, they are called “methods”, but in fact these are the standards, concepts, methods and frameworks that are used in project management.

IT Project Management

In the field of IT project management (PM) is a discipline that combines the procedures, principles and business policy. It manages the project from concept development to the achievement of the ultimate goal.

Functional and project management

General (functional) management differs from project management that it is stable. Its goal is to support and multiply. There is a well-designed template that works constantly. In contrast to functional, the project management is variable. Its goal is the result at any cost. The project management has a deadline.

The most common reason for the transition from general management to project management is reliability, a transformation from a relatively abstract perspective to predictable results.

Studies of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) have shown that the new approach can save about 20-30% of the time, and 15-20% of the resources.

Let’s define the main cycles of IT project management

In IT, project management can go on the following life cycles of the project:

Forecasted aka waterfall. The PMBOK 5 standard refers to this method as a “Predictive Life Cycle”. In this type of model, certain stages may have a sequential or parallel relationship or even a combination of both. The tasks that are performed at each stage differ from the previous or the next stage. This kind of approach is well suited for working on small projects with minimal complexity, and also applies in cases where the product to be produced is sufficiently well studied. For planning and control, the PERT methods, the critical path method, the volume mastered method, the Gantt chart are well applicable.

Iterative. The modern approach, according to which the processes at each stage are repeated until the criteria for exit from the stage are reached. This approach focuses on the struggle against the existing limitations in the classical approach, especially in cases where there is a need to adapt to changes. The iteration cycle is nothing more than a series of mini waterfalls. It can be applied to small and less complex projects, where the results are sufficiently clear.

Consecutive. With this approach, the product is designed according to a series of incremental steps. The approach, by its nature, is cyclical and each of the cycles provides additional functionality. The process is repeated until the exit criterion for the product or result is fully satisfied. Large and complex projects really benefit from the use of this method. It supports the creation of prototypes, and interaction with consumers of the product is quite close at the stage of project construction. The sequential model is much better equipped with changes for management. Each successive functionality is checked by the client and, therefore, the potential risk in the management of large and complex projects is significantly reduced.

Adaptive. Agile, Scrum and others, ie, flexible methods or methods of changing management. This approach to project management is a combination of iterative and consistent models. Adaptive management methods are aimed at overcoming the predicted incompleteness of requirements and their constant change. When the requirements change, the development team also changes. The team involved in adaptive development can hardly foresee the future of the project. The exact plan is only for the near future. More distant in time plans exist only as a declaration of project objectives, expected costs and results.

In some cases, the leader or the lead manager can create his own project management methodology. However, the current methods of project planning are quite effective and rational. In our subsequent articles, we will consider the basic techniques in more detail.