One of the biggest stumbling blocks for a growing IT service business is IT project management. When the company was a one man show, you kept the balls in the air by managing it all yourself. But your company has grown, you have added a couple of additional techs, and now you need to find a way to manage it all before it gets out of hand. It isn't impossible, but you do need to have a few tricks up your sleeve to ensure that this growth doesn't kill the company.
Here are a few tips: Make a Plan – The days of giving IT service by the seat of your pants are gone. If you have a team, you need a plan. More importantly you need a solid plan. If you want integration of applications, data bases, code and hardware with software and more often these days, the cloud, you need a road-map on how to get you there.
Make Goals You Can Keep – Scheduling is an integral part of your service, just make sure that if you promise on something you can deliver. Don't give unrealistic schedules to clients in order to impress if you can't keep them. Taking short cuts just means more mistakes, so be realistic with the schedule for your team.
Roll Out Deliveries Incrementally – Teams mean bigger projects, but smart IT project management knows how to roll out the bigger project in increments to control the quality of delivery. You can keep the scope small for each step along the way to allow focus, then ramp it up once the whole project is delivered.
Control Budget Burn – It is easy to suddenly find yourself two thirds through your budget but only half way towards your goal. Always budget for contingencies and watch those high end costs such as consultants and specialists. Smart IT project management means planning for the unexpected in your budget and your time.
Build Teamwork – While you may have pulled this team together because they had the skills you need to get the job done, smart IT project management recognizes that doesn't guarantee they will get along. Be aware of the personality clashes such as the hero who takes on more than they can handle or the arrival of the blame game. Nip these problems in the bud and you will have a more effective team.
Communication – This is essential to building strong teams. You will need to strike a balance between telling them everything they need to know to get the job done right and telling them so much detail that they get overwhelmed. Smart IT project management will know the big picture so that every piece moves forward at the right time.
Have a "Plan B" – It is inevitable that something will not time out as you planned. That server that is critical to the project is held up at customs, or the software you are using suddenly has a bug. When these kinds of problem appear, be ready with a back-up until you can solve the problem. Above all, don't let unforeseen problems stop you cold. Move forward and use Plan B until the problem is resolved.
While you can't always solve every problem with these steps, being prepared for them is a big part of any effective IT project management system. Talk to others in your profession to create a network of IT project managers who can mentor each other. Keep communication open with clients as well as your team. Of course, it is also essential to be prepared for failure. So many IT projects reach beyond their scope, so be sure that you and the client have a plan in place in case this approach doesn't work.
The bottom line is that to deliver great IT project management you need to be a cheerleader, communicator and organizer all rolled into one. Using great software to manage the process can help. That is why we created EzPSA, to help keep all those little details in focus as the project rolls along. But in the end, the software is only as good as the person who uses it. So take the time at the beginning of the project to think about these roles, what tools you have at hand to help you achieve them and then just take a deep breath and embrace your newly acquired IT Project Management role. You will do fine.