IT Project Management and Agile/Scrum Methodologies

Traditional Project Management

There are various project management approaches that function as a roadmap for contractors working on various projects for government and military agencies. Project management is an essential component of contract management and involves tracking, recording, costing and reporting various tasks and deliverables associated with a contract and assigning those tasks to a particular resource. Each contract is led by a team of skilled personnel who report to the project manager, whose job it is to ensure that these factors are in balance. In general, project management consists of five phases:

1)      Initiating

2)      Planning

3)      Executing

4)      Monitoring

5)      Controlling

6)      Closing

Every project is constrained by time, cost and scope. Based on specific IT goals and objectives of the project, tasks are delineated amongst the team personnel by the project manager. Detailed recordkeeping is essential to project management, as regular reports are usually required on a regular basis, to be delivered to the Contracting Officer (COR). Other required deliverables may include a Plan of Action & Milestones (POA&M), cost sheets, Internal Process Reviews (IPRs), and other management documents required by the terms of the contract. IT projects involve an additional level of risk, compared to conventional project management, due to technology challenges, including hardware, software, networking and system security issues and constraints.

Agile Project Management

IT project management many times follows traditional project management techniques.  However, it is becoming more common for IT project managers to adopt specific project management methodologies for accomplishing specialized technology objectives. Agile project management is an approach where there is no centralized project manager and the duties of a project manager are distributed among the team. Scrum has become a leading agile methodology in IT project management and relies on more of a group dynamic. This approach has its own rules about planning, coding, executing and testing software.

SSW: Rules to Better Scrum using TFS-http://rules.ssw.com.au/

SSW: Rules to Better Scrum using TFS-http://rules.ssw.com.au/

In Scrum there are three roles, product owner, Scrum Master and Team. The product owner is responsible for business aspects and is able to make decisions that affect the project. The Scrum Master works as a facilitator and help promote team cohesion and cooperation. This person is responsible for tracking project progress and issues, using tools like Microsoft Project. The Product Owner starts a Sprint Planning Meeting which is attended by the Scrum team. In this meeting, they discuss the highest priority product features needed and breakout specific project goals or “sprints” that can be completed with a short turnaround time. Overall, it is the team itself which determines how best to achieve the defined project goals, who should work on which tasks and which practices to implement. Agile project management is a dynamic process, where responsibilities are constantly shifting and the team can quickly adapt to shifting priorities and changes, without the restraints of a traditional management structure. Agile processes promote sustainable development, where all stakeholders associated should be able to maintain a constant pace. There are various software tools and courses available which help organizations implement Scrum project management.

 

 Future of Project Management

Project management in the future will rely on an increasing use of Agile techniques, as well as special software to help accomplish these projects. Contractors will seek out project managers with experience working in an Agile environment and who have specific technical capabilities related to the proposed project. Studies have shown that Agile methods help reduce costs, improve quality and shorten the time for task completion. As a result, organizations are have been adopting these methodologies at a faster rate. As projects are becoming larger and more complex, Agile approaches help manage these projects in a more sustainable way. Project managers will need to become more adept at vendor management, since product and services play a crucial role in the costs and success of the project. Overall, as more organizations adopt agile methods, organizations may find themselves falling short of their expectations for Agile methodologies. Overall performance shouldn’t be a reflection of Agile, but more on the individuals and skills employed to build an Agile team. STSC believes in Agile project management for many IT projects, based on the Software Development Lifecycle.  To learn more about us, visit www.stscorp.us

 References:

ESI International. (2013). Top 10 Project Management Trends of 2013. Retrieved from http://www.esi-intl.com/~/media/files/public-site/US/POVs/ESIViewpoint_Top-10-PM-Trends-2013

Mountain Goat Software. (n.d.). What is Agile Project Management . Retrieved from http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/topics/agile-project-management

Phillips, J. (2013). Project Management Definition and Solutions. Retrieved from CIO: http://www.cio.com/article/40342/Project_Management_Definition_and_Solutions

 

 

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