IT Projects Squeezed by Economy
Friday, June 13, 2003
Posted by: Michael Beardslee
Prompted by the dot-com collapse and surrounded by layoffs within technology companies and information technology departments across the country, project managers have returned to strict methods of project management for the creation and installation of new technology systems. Overall, economic pressures have placed new focus on Information Technology project budgets and development timeframes.
Prior to the dot-com fall, IT projects were essentially bottomless pits, where focus was placed on being the first to market, rather than long-term profitability. Now the industry is seeing companies opt for strict planning and budgeting and renewed focus on meeting project deadlines.
One of the keys to successful project management is having a clear plan and choosing critical information for a given business. This generally requires business executives and developers to decide upon and adhere to requirements. The original plan should serve the future goals and current needs of the company, including user needs, time frame and budget, and should not exceed any of these projections.
To ensure the demands of project plans are met, more companies are now hiring full-time IT project consultants dedicated solely to a specific project in order to meet meticulously planned budget and time requirements for new systems. Project planners must have a clear concept of business objectives and must involve end-users prior to project development and deployment to have firm basic requirements for the system. Full-time project managers also tend to be more committed to the task at hand. The success of any IT project depends upon the level of interest and involvement of project managers.
To meet these needs, companies should have good project managers who know how to manage the systems properly, and if the businesses' have IT managers, they need to understand completely how to manage their own systems. Qualified project managers save money in the long run because they manage all IT projects well, not just new system development and implementation. A good IT project manager should fulfill a company's needs in disaster recovery, security issues and long-term planning as well.
Additionally, having an experienced project manager in both the management and the IT aspects of the project is critical. Three components of any IT project that a project manager must understand and deal with are the technical issues, people management and procedural elements. The technical side receives the most attention. A project manager with exposure to IT-specific issues will be able to recognize the small details that may have a huge impact on the project.
The ability to pay attention to minute details is another essential characteristic required in today's project manager. Companies have high demand for a project manager who can analyze every detail of any failing or new task.
In scrutinizing project details, this recent return to a structured approach to project management also requires managers to meet weekly or even daily or to maintain executive support and to ensure that developers adhere to the original plan.
Finally, companies stand to save enormous sums of money by investing in a project manager that can conduct on-site testing and training. Complete system training allows a company to hire fewer administrative and support staff members. It also ensures that a system is effective and provides financial benefit to a company before the project is completed.
The bottom line in this economy is profitability. Today's companies are no longer willing to finance a fast-to-market system that offers no long-term sustainability. Businesses are demanding that project managers deliver systems on time and on budget, and that they meet the planned objectives.
Michael Beardlsee is President of IT Strategies International Corp.