13 Tips for Keeping IT Projects Under Control

How do you keep IT projects under control? Project managers and project management experts share their top tips for keeping IT projects on schedule.

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff
Mon, March 18, 2013

CIO — Scope creep. Team members who don't understand what's expected of them. Poor inter-departmental communication. These are just some of the problems project managers constantly face.

So how do you keep projects under control? CIO.com asked dozens of project managers and project management experts to find out. Here are their top 13 suggestions for dealing with the challenges all project managers face at one time or another--and for keeping projects in check.

IT project management time
credit: Michael McCloskey

1. Appoint the right project manager for the job. "Hire project managers who will have the respect of the developers and who understand what they are doing," says Harry E. Keller, the president, CEO and founder of Smart Science Education Inc. "Nothing kills IT projects faster than poor management. It's tough because most developers aren't suited to management and most managers are clueless regarding developer types, but it's worth the effort."

[Related: How to Develop Next-Gen Project Managers ]

2. Support the project manager with the right team. "The CIO must adequately equip the team with the right people," says Ben Lichtenwalner, senior manager of Internet & eCommerce for Whirlpool Corporation and founder of ModernServantLeader.com. Not only must you choose the right project manager, but you need to "support your project manager with the right team members (business analyst, QA manager, etc.) so the project manager can [properly] manage the project and [doesn't] do all the work."

"Allocate resources on the basis of capability not availability," says Gerardo Menegaz, executive IT architect, IBM Global Technology Services. "Too often resources are allocated in order to clear a bench rather than due to a skills match with requirements. In the end this will only serve to undermine the success of the project," he says.

3. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your project team. "The most important thing in keeping projects under control is to 'know your horses,' as my dad would say," says Dr. Tim Lynch, the CEO of PsychsoftPC, the maker of high performance gaming computers and graphics workstations. "That is, you need to know who on your team works best with minimal supervision and can be left to run, who needs to be spurred on and who needs to be reined in--and manage them accordingly."

[Related: 6 Attributes of Successful Project Managers ]

4. Scope out the project then strip it down. "We scope out the entire project from soup to nuts. Then we look to cut it by nearly 50 percent," says Patrick Clements, the CEO of bigWebApps.com. "From that 50 percent of the project we take three things we can start and complete to make the project a success, basically the MVP (minimum viable product) method."

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