The world of corporate IT can be challenging and difficult enough – but managing IT projects can be even more so. How do you know when an IT project is in trouble, and what can you do to get the project back on track? This article has some insights and interesting answers.
What are the signs that an IT project is struggling?
There are many possible signs that a project is in trouble, depending on the nature of the project. One of the biggest things is if upper management is being told everything is rosy when that simply isn’t the case. Missed deadlines/milestones is another obvious sign, but also watch out for more subtle things like passing around blame or low team morale. Finally, before a project even begins, look for warnings in how the project is setup: projects with large budget investments (both financing and time) are rife with potential for future problems.
What decisions have to be made once a problem is recognised?
Initially, it’s going to boil down to the most needed decision of ‘scrap or save’. This is a complex decision that is going to benefit most from communication between the IT managers and all others involved. The manager needs to get a thorough understanding of what is going on before being able to move forward. Sometimes, moving forward actually entails making the really tough decision to scrap a project, depending on how far reaching the involved issues are.
So, I’ve decided to try and salvage my project, what now?
The person salvaging the project needs a plan, a road-map. It needs to be as detailed, but as streamlined, as possible. Interim managers need to focus on team morale and boosting the customers confidence. Everyone involved needs to take as much ownership as they can of what they are doing, and more specifically, how they are interacting with the other teams and the client.
Honesty is key- it’s already been decided that the project is in trouble, there’s no need at this point for blame shifting and covering up. Different management and planning methodologies are useful, but one shouldn’t become a slave to ‘theory’. Rather, every tool in the toolbox needs to be applied with flexibility and specificity to the unique situations of the project.
IT project management involves complex interactions between teams, management and the client. Salvaging a project that is in trouble is feasible, it mainly just takes a recognition of the problems in the first place, and honest thorough communication to work out the solutions. IT Project Managers can get IT projects back on track with senior level buy-in and considerable personal determination.