The majority of today’s projects include some sort of technology component. A system may be needed to support new functions the organization will soon add, or it might be necessary to migrate from an outdated platform to one with more robust functionality as operations grow and the company’s needs expand.
Managing these technology-related activities requires close attention to detail in order to maintain an efficient integration schedule. PMs must drive accountability across a variety of system tasks and ensure that everything is ready to go on time. Data usually needs to be uploaded, end users trained, security and access issues addressed, and the system’s ongoing maintenance duties assigned.
Challenges occur when technology is just one small piece of a much larger project. It’s not uncommon for stakeholders to lose sight of individual technology tasks if they’re overshadowed by issues that have more visibility or are closer to the organization’s core business. In addition, system activities may not be recognized as part of a project’s critical path.
If your team is struggling to fold technology into its broader project management strategy, consider the priorities you don’t want to miss.
Understand how technology supports your project’s goals. PMs need to understand the results the technology is intended to help drive. Whether it’s an increase in productivity, a decrease in shipping costs, or better insight into how well a workflow is performing, the deployment of any technology solution needs to be closely aligned with the project’s wider goals. Maintaining awareness of that alignment and staying focused on the role technology plays will help your team develop and execute a project plan that incorporates system-centric tasks more effectively.
Identify expectations around growth and scalability. A system that works well today may not perform at the same level by the time the project is complete. Technology is particularly vulnerable when it comes to project efforts with long time horizons, as requirements around computing power, bandwidth, data storage, and other functionalities can evolve significantly within a very short period of time. To ensure the final product serves its intended purpose and meets stakeholders’ expectations, PMs must be mindful to consider how the organization’s technology needs are likely to evolve between the early planning phase and the project’s target completion date.
Locate and prepare the necessary data. You don’t want to be scrambling to pull together important background data the day before your new technology platform goes live. It’s likely the information will need to be reviewed prior to uploading—duplicate records might need to be eliminated and file formats often need to be shifted or standardized so the data can be accurately entered into the new system. It’s also important to work with the IT team to determine how the new solution will be integrated into its internal architecture. They may need to create additional connection points or increase the size of their existing links.
Don’t forget training. If users aren’t ready to put their new technology tools to work, your project could experience diminished productivity and a delayed completion deadline. Schedule training dates early—long before the system implementation is done—to be sure you can secure the most experienced trainers and offer a variety of sessions. This will also enable employees to block out time on their calendars and avoid last-minute conflicts. Make the effort now to establish a program for future refresher sessions, too. Ongoing training opportunities not only ensure that employees know how to use newly added system features effectively, they also provide workers with a chance to ask any questions that may have come up during routine use of the system.