IT projects that hit the rocks are not that uncommon - most people who work in IT know about at least one project that was delivered late, over budget or didn’t meet client/user expectations. There are things you can do though - even quite late in the day - to limit damage and perhaps recover ground. These five suggestions are a good starting point for anyone who is struggling to manage a difficult project.More
It’s always interesting to hear about a software project that’s gone wrong. Not because of schadenfreude but because it’s interesting to see how the reasons are often very similar; there’s a small set of things that cause big problems on a project. The good news is they are easy to avoid if you do a bit of careful planning.More
Waterfall and agile are two different ways organising and managing software development projects. They tend to be presented as opposites - you either choose one or the other - but in reality it usually makes sense not to be too purist and instead go for a hybrid approach that takes the best from each.
What are the differences between the two approaches? In waterfall:More
What are the most common mistakes that new project managers make? Here are some that we come across when we’re asked to help out on projects that have got into difficulty.More
You should start every project with a project kick off meeting. Get the team in a room and walk them through the project. The meeting’s important - maybe the most important you’ll do on the project - because it sets the tone, it gives you opportunity to really explain the business case and you can walk people through the plan. You want the whole team onboard and that first meeting is where you tell people how they fit into the big picture.More
Projects with external partner organisations are a feature of some sectors. In the charity world for example, it’s not uncommon for organisation to get together and bid for new project funding.
Projects with external partners can be challenging because each organisation has its own agenda, priorities and business processes. Senior staff in each organisation know the background to the project and understand the business case but the operational staff who you’ll need to work with the deliver the project can be more preoccupied with their day to day work. It can be difficult to get people to engage with the project, particularly when deadlines are slipping and an extra push is required to get things over the line.More
Gantt charts are great way to illustrate and share project schedules. A well designed Gantt chart is still the best way to show the dependencies between the tasks and deliverables that make up your project. A good Gantt chart should also make sense to the wider team - it should give everyone an overview of the project and the sequence of tasks and deliverables that need to happen before the project is complete.
How do you create a good Gantt chart?More
Project Managers often produce a Project Initiation Document (PID) at the start of the project. It’s a sort of project reference document, a collection of other bits of important documentation and the starting point for anyone who wants to know what the project is about.
The PID should be useful - something that people want to read - but it can end up being too long and difficult to read. They get produced for the wrong reason - to tick a quality management box rather than to share important project information with key stakeholders.More
Here are some tips for anyone who’s about to plan a new project. They are for novice project manager but hopefully any project manager will find something useful here:More
Technology companies understand project management - they organise themselves around projects. They have teams - resources - all working together to deliver a new feature or product on time and on budget. The person with overall responsibility for delivering that new feature on time and on budget (and to right level of quality) is the project manager.
Software companies also use project managers when they roll out new software for clients. The client’s day to day point of contact with the supplier will usually be one of the supplier’s project managers.More
Estimating software development jobs isn’t always easy.
Software development costs are almost entirely people and on a fixed price project it can be hard to unpick every small job and sensibly estimate how long they will take.More