Articles | September 19, 2019

Tools for managing a project in the IT outsourcing model

Each IT project, whether carried out by an internal or external team, calls for adequate management, including planning, monitoring and optimizing. All of these activities include basic elements of the project, meaning scope, resources and budget.

   

These elements are closely and inseparably related to one another. To achieve goals and carry out tasks within the project, we need defined resources: employees, materials and equipment. Both the employees’ time and the time schedule of completing the project have their limitations. This is why project realization requires precise planning of the timeframe and the budget, which includes costs related to engagement of employees, business travel, workplace, equipment and tools. The number of possibilities and difficulties which occur during the project – especially when it comes to dedicated solutions – is hard to define. Trying to foresee them may turn out to be too time-consuming or even impossible. Systems for IT project management allow you to save a lot of time and even money in the long term.

Useful functions in managing outsourcing projects

Communication is one of the main challenges in IT projects carried out by external developers. This is why the majority of solutions available on the market provide adequate tools for:

  • Sharing files – they allow you to share data, calendars, contact lists and tasks.
  • Communication within a project – they separate communication related to the project and allow you to react to urgent queries in a swift manner.
  • Reporting – they provide information on KPIs and give an insight into the progress of the project, allowing you to monitor the time and quality of developers’ work.

A planning module is a basic element of each program for task planning, where we can define who should carry out what and within which timeframe. Thanks to this, we can take full advantage of the time and potential of employees. While planning, we often use a calendar, which means that the team has an insight into the status of all tasks, both those assigned to themselves and to other members of the team. Companies offering IT outsourcing services very often make use of this type of function as they allow responsibility for achieving the goal to be built among everyone engaged in the project.

Read more: Effective communication in IT outsourcing

The best dedicated applications for project management in IT outsourcing

There are hundreds of tools supporting project management in IT outsourcing on the market. Most of them are applicable to the outsourcing model and can be used with Agile methodologies. Regardless of design, the number of functions and price, all of the applications have one feature in common: they are simple. We do not need to undertake training to start using these programs basically immediately. Despite the simplicity, there are other relevant functions which address the needs of diverse users. These are examples of different platforms and the possibilities which they offer, depending on the basic function provided.

Asana – advanced task list

This is a simple tool for intuitive task management within project groups. The functionality of the application includes e.g. assigning tasks to a particular person, adding a deadline, attaching files and commenting. In addition, it allows you to create sub-tasks, which can be assigned to other people and dates. All tasks, updates and data related to the project are visible in task lists, current conversations, the calendar, the list of project realization progress and attachments.

https://asana.com/

Microsoft Project – organizing with the use of Gant diagrams

Complementary to the Office package which provides advanced functions used in planning and carrying out projects, i.e. Gant diagrams. A number of ready templates, visualizations and diagrams on the timeline allow you to save time on creation and facilitate the swift analysis of data. This is important from an IT outsourcing perspective, especially while creating dedicated solutions. The tool allows you to manage multiple projects at the same time and to monitor progress, manage resources and working time.

https://www.microsoft.com/pl-pl/

Trello – simple workflow with the use of Kanban tables

In simple IT projects which do not require the multidimensional realization of particular tasks, the application based on Kanban dashboards works superbly. Trello allows you to manage the dashboard of tasks and share them in different teams. To each of the tasks, we can add labels, date of completion, people responsible, attachments and discussions with all interested parties. The tool offers a number of add-ons extending its functionalities, such as synchronization with mail or the corporate calendar.

https://trello.com/home

Basecamp – effective communication

One of the main issues while developing software in the IT outsourcing model is dispersal communication. The Basecamp application serves complex management, knowledge exchange and communication within a project. All those taking part in the project use one platform to exchange emails, share files or chat. Thanks to connection to the module which allows you to create and manage tasks and deadlines as well as the monitoring and reporting function, it is a good solution for the majority of simple projects.

https://basecamp.com/

JIRA – all you need in Scrum

In Agile projects it is worth considering the use of the Jira application. This well-built platform has a number of functionalities, such as Scrum and Kanban dashboards, Roadmaps and agile reports. We can use predefined settings or define our own workflow, in which we will plan and monitor task progress, submit completed project elements for testing and evaluation, and generate quality and efficiency reports in the final phase.

The platform also enables direct integration with development tools, which increases the precision of the team’s efficiency estimation and defines the dates of realization of forthcoming Story Points. JIRA is one of the most commonly used tools in IT outsourcing.

https://pl.atlassian.com/software/jira

Redmine

Each IT project has different requirements and needs when it comes to management. This well-configured tool allows you to manage all essential data and minimizes the time required for inputting the data. Readmine is an open-source platform which allows you to create your own tools based on available functions, where we find: wiki, a bug monitor, role-based access control, simple time tracking or non-standard fields.

https://www.redmine.org/

The best solution for project management in IT outsourcing

We will not find one single best platform for management. The choice of system depends on project requirements, our expectations and the time needed to get it configured. The key is to create a list of basic functions that the application should have in the context of the project. Based on the list, select the appropriate application, while also taking into consideration its evaluation depending on the number of users, whether it is available in a cloud model or on-premises, or if there is technical support available. Finally, ensure that all the required data is available and that the contact information of people taking part in the project is added to the chosen system.

Read also: The best practices in IT nearshoring

Maciej Smulczyk
Business Development Manager

At JCommerce, he is responsible for business development in Central Poland region. He has many years of consulting experience in educational, recruitment and outsourcing business processes. In his private life, he’s a fan of basketball, hockey and baseball from overseas.