Project Management

IT Project Management and the IT Project Life Cycle

Information technology (IT) project management involves managing the total effort to implement an IT project. IT projects are undertaken to create a product or system, which includes deliverables, such as software, hardware, data management, business process alignment, training, communications, and deployment. These deliverables are managed as components and modules. A component is a major piece of the product or service and is comprised of one or more modules.

The IT project life cycle outlines the technical work and defines the deliverables that are needed to complete IT projects.

An IT project life cycle includes the following phases, which are based loosely on the six phases of the Project Management Institute’s software project life cycle:

  1. Requirements and analysis
  2. Architecture
  3. Design
  4. Construction
  5. Integration and test
  6. Implementation

An IT project management life cycle is different from a project management life cycle (i.e., phases include initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing). However, the two are used together to manage IT projects. This is in part because the project management life cycle includes phases for organizing the project and ensuring it flows efficiently from beginning to end.

Robert and Dan have a landscaping business, Green Thumb, which has grown to a point where their paper system is no longer meeting their needs. They are losing customer data, and they would like the ability to generate more reports to show progress and identify opportunities. Robert and Daryl need an electronic solution to manage their data. They need a database.

They hire Ayo, from Data Systems Warehouse, to manage the project. Ayo explains the process: ‘To develop your landscaping database, you will need to use an IT project management life cycle, which includes six phases: requirements and analysis, architecture, design, construction, integration and test, and implementation.’

Phase 1: Requirements and Analysis

Requirements describe the problems that need to be solved and the objectives of the project. Analysis is conducted to explore the relationships among the components of the products or systems that meet the requirements.

During this phase, the project manager works with the customer and subject matter experts to define the business requirements and determine how these will be met. The project manager also identifies what products or systems will be delivered, the resources required, and the skills needed to complete the work.

In our example, Robert and Dan are losing data using the manual system; they’d also like the ability to produce reports. Ayo will need to plan to have a developer on his team who can build the database, create reports, and develop user documentation. Ayo will also need to have someone to train Robert and Dan on how to use the product.

Phase 2: Architecture

The architecture phase identifies the elements that will be included in the products or systems. The architect reviews business requirements and identifies technical solutions. The project stakeholders analyze the options so they can choose the most efficient and effective solution. In our example, the architect will define the data structure and report layout.

Phase 3: Design

The design can be completed in two parts: high-level and detailed. The high-level design explains how the components of the products or systems will technically work, how they will interact with other components, and how they will interact with the hardware and software.

The detailed design is descriptive and provides more details for each component of the product or system. It identifies the modules within each component of the product or system and describes the function of each module, how it will work, and how each module interfaces with other modules.

Ayo will need to explain, first at a high-level and then at a more detailed level, how the database will work and how the database will interact with the hardware (PCs, tablets, printers), and other software, such as Word or Excel.

Phase 4: Construction

Construction is the activity where the team is developing the code or building the components. After Robert and Dan approve the design, Ayo can have his team build the database.

Phase 5: Integration and Test

Integration is combining all of the modules and components into a functioning product or system so testing can occur. Testing is crucial for determining the quality of the product or system.

Four types of testing:

  1. Unit and function
  2. System
  3. Integration
  4. User
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