Organisation, communication and hard work: how to manage large IT projects

Organisation, communication and hard work: how to manage large IT projects

If you’re managing small IT projects, it might be enough to rely on casual communication and occasional project meetings. But when it comes to designing a management plan for large IT projects, there is an increasing volume of complexity to consider. The key consideration is therefore when is it appropriate to retain an informal management approach and at what level of scale should the Project Manager consider more sophisticated processes. The following are three areas where we often see weaknesses in management techniques:

The right time to automate

Using off-the-shelf project management software can improve efficiency and reduce administration effort on large projects. These packages come with a license cost and require a level of effort to implement and to train users. They can also have limitations to your existing working practices which will need consideration and some management. Introducing a project management package allows quick and easy automation of internal project processes.

There are lots of great tools out there for this purpose. Basecamp, for example, provides clear reminders for deadlines and makes it obvious who is responsible for what, while the ticket function on offer with Goplan is ideal when you need a way for team members to easily report software defects in beta tests or recently migrated systems. It’s a project decision whether the upfront effort in automating will save time overall.

Strong internal comms

If you’re running a large IT change process, it’s likely that you’ve built a project team of people with diverse skills and with a wide spread of experience. The simplest approach to coordinating and managing your team is some straightforward resource management processes, however you may want to consider more sophisticated skills matrices. Global projects are invariably supported by global teams – with all the challenges of time zone differences, language and cultural barriers. Consider a greater use of Skype video calls and even recorded video uploads for regular team briefings. Also, team-wide Skype for Business instant message groups are a good format for low-level task coordination. Almost any communication channel could work. The project manager’s role is to identify the challenges facing good internal communications and establish the most effective processes to overcome them.

Managing changes

Managing scope creep and new requirements has always been a key activity for successful project managers. With new projects being delivered more and more commonly via cloud solutions, there is as much emphasis on this approach as ever. This means defining the target release version at go live. This could be based on a minimum viable product, for a new solution, or a targeted version from the vendor that aligns the vendor’s roadmap with the plan. New requirements for functionality then fall into future releases and longer-term planning and associated communications recognize this approach.

Managing large IT projects – where to find more help

Do you need some assistance with managing your IT projects? Here at City Change Management we have plenty of experience in managing complex projects and helping clients like Gatwick Airport, Thames Valley Police and a number of Magic Circle law firms with business transformation. Please get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help.

You can read about some of the large IT projects we’ve carried out on our Case Studies web pages.

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