Developing Best Project Management Practices for IT Projects, Day 1

The two presenters were:
Frank Cervone, Assistant University Librarian for Information Technology
Northwestern University
f-cervone@northwestern.edu

Grace Sines, Head, Information Technology Branch
USDA, ARS, National Agicultural Library
Gsines@nal.usda.gov

There were about 44 people in attendance, and there was an interesting breakdown from there:

  • 30+ from academic libraries
  • 0 from school libraries
  • 2 from Tech processing areas
  • 2 from collection development areas
  • 1 from marketing

Day 1 began with an overview of what we’d be doing:

  • Looking at project management in general
  • Defining what a project is and is not
  • Developing an understanding of what project management is primarily from the viewpoint of the Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • Investigating the 5 process groups and 9 knowledge areas
  • Examining dozens of project management templates, documents, examples, etc.
  • Examining the best practices for IT projects

The objectives were to basically provide us with information that we can begin using now and to make managing projects easier. As the preconference went on, I began to feel overwhelmed but grateful for the numerous templates and examples they handed out to build a wonderful tool kit of proven best project management practices.

Information technology projects are hard to manage because they involve people of different skill levels, budgets, distributed leadership techniques, and getting people to understand what the project’s scope really involves. You have to deal with differences of opinions. Frank mentioned the “movement” toward evidence-based librarianship, where decisions are not based on opinions, but rather based on research.

What is a project? A project has a beginning and an end. It’s not a repetitive task, and the end result is usually tangible. A program, on the other hand, is operational an ongoing.

It was stressed multiple times throughout the preconference that “The people who must do the work should be in on the planning of the work.”

Successful project managers:

  • Enable staff
  • Are excellent, ethical communicators
  • Have high administrative credibility
  • Are sensitive to interpersonal issues
  • Have political know-how
  • Practice participatory management (not hierarchical management)
  • Get buy-in from the team


Successful team members:

  • See lots of options, alternatives, and possibilites
  • Focus on things they can control
  • Feel challenged, energetic, and WANT to be there
  • Have clear and written goals
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Know themselves

Frank and Grace spent most of the preconference going through the project management blueprint outlined by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). There are 9 Knowledge areas and 5 Processes to project management. We had several large and small group discussions about these things. For example, we examined a project where an IT department was upgrading the library to Windows XP, and looked at the scope of the project, what risks are involved, complications in training and dealing with people and levels of service, etc.

9 Areas of Knowledge

  1. Scope Management
  2. Time Management
  3. Cost Management
  4. Quality Management
  5. Human Resources Management
  6. Communications Management
  7. Risk Management
  8. Procurement Management
  9. Integration Management

5 Processes to Project Management

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and controlling
  5. Closing

Most of the work is done in the planning stage, and it should always be done in groups or teams. The project scope seems to be one of the most important pieces, because if it’s not clear, then the project may not go well.

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