IT projects in education face a myriad of unique challenges. While IT projects in universities and schools face the same trouble as business IT projects in the amount of abandoned projects, they face a bigger challenge in funding the projects and securing the right resources for success. This means that project management is a very important tool for academic IT projects, according to this post by Charlotte Erdmann. She uses the insights of Frank Dunkel (of German company Lynx Consulting) to help illustrate some of the considerations and practices that IT project managers who work for a university or school should consider.
For instance: Dunkel explains how the goals of a project need to be identified before the project begins, explained to all stakeholders, and agreed upon by all stakeholders. This seems like an expected process for any project, but Dunkel knows that many project don’t even follow this fundamental step. The goals should also follow the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines: specific, measurable, accepted, realistic, and timetabled.
Another point brought up in the post is how often project managers rely solely on methodology and not real life practice:
A common mistake made by project managers it is to rely on methodology. In this case, less is often more.
“Instead of planning projects down to the tiniest detail, project managers should focus on results. They should only roughly plan the individual work packages, project phases and milestones,” Dunkel said. “Detailed planning and scheduling should be left to team leaders. This has the advantage that project progress can be judged against hard, measurable facts.”
The article closes with a piece of advice for educational institutions: don’t put your most important people on IT projects to manage them ““ put project managers in that position. A project manager knows what work needs to get done and do it within budget.