Bringing IT-centric skills to delivering IT projects is no longer enough for professionals working in the field.
Project management skills are now integral to successful IT transformation and for building a reputable career. PRINCE2® was created to take the doubt and guesswork out of managing projects and, in particular, the method offers seven principles that work well in supporting IT projects:
Continued business justification
This helps you question why a particular project should continue, or not. In some cases, I’ve seen upgrades to a network security system which is no longer being used. If there is no ongoing reason to use the system, then any project to update it should be revalidated and potentially stopped. This will save the organization money, plus the human capital and time that can be better utilized on work that matters.
Learn from experience
Generally, when doing something in IT, it’s unlikely to be the first time you’ve done it, so you can learn from past successes and failures. For example, the lessons from installing a new operating system two years ago still apply to today, regardless of the software. So, your action might mean backing up files to avoid the pain it caused last time!
Defined roles and responsibilities
It’s really important to know who does – or has done – what in IT.
Users, power users and system administrators each have different responsibilities for systems either in a project or business as usual and that dictates their level of authority and activity.
Manage by stages
When pushing out a new system, there is a risk of change accelerating from 0 to 100 too quickly. This is where managing the process in stages is more effective; managing a deployment as a project which is easier to track, make progress and report to management for approval to move to the next stage. This way, management can govern the change and reduce risk to the organization.
Manage by exception
Holding all approvals at the highest level slows down progress. Therefore, manage by exception balances progress with risk tolerance. So, a minor change, such as a system patch, could be approved at systems administrator level. Replacing a software system might need IT director approval, while shifting to a virtual desktop environment affecting the entire organization may need CIO or CEO-level endorsement. The goal is to trust and empower employees to make as many decisions as possible, within a risk tolerance.
Focus on products
In IT the “product” is a working, usable service of connected computing. By focusing on that, you will be putting something of value into the hands of end users, every day. If not, you will be spending a lot of time doing things that just don’t matter.
Tailor to suit the project
PRINCE2 can be tailored to suit the needs of your organization by scaling it up and down. It can be used equally to manage a short, two-stage project – with initiation and closure – as well as creating a 12-month initiative for a major product rollout. The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming burden and can be tailored to work in an agile environment like IT operations.
Ultimately, PRINCE2’s principles are there as a check-list of important things to consider and include in an IT project to ensure a higher likelihood of success and fewer problems in the future.
News by Jason Dion – Training