When our customers come to us with a new IT infrastructure project or national deployment, they are usually very concerned with which products we will use and the pricing on them. More experienced decision makers may bring up the expertise of field technicians and installers who will complete the work, but we rarely receive questions about project management and how the project will be completed from a high level. Project management ultimately controls how smoothly a project will run, whether it will be completed on time, and that the result matches what was promised by the sales team. Here we are going to discuss a few of the things that project managers do and why they are the key to successful national IT deployments.
It is widely known that project managers work hard to create and manage the schedule of a project, but what does that mean? Many IT infrastructure projects are national deployments, meaning they include many locations (sometimes thousands) spread across the country. Think of your favorite large retail store or restaurant, they usually operate and look the same whether you are in Florida or Minnesota. When these types of businesses want to roll out a new IT system, they want it done across all locations within a short timeframe. Project managers oversee scheduling technicians to visit the locations and complete the work. They need to communicate with the individual stores to find out when they allow work to be done and find (or sometimes arrange travel for) technicians to be there. In most cases, work is being done in many locations simultaneously.
If a project requires special equipment to complete, like a lift to reach the ceiling, the project manager will need to schedule that equipment to be onsite, so the technician is able to complete the work. This also includes any hardware being installed including point of sale devices, cabling, or data racks. Project managers do not solely manage human schedules, they also manage the equipment and deliveries.
Once a project is underway and technicians or installers are on site, a multitude of issues can arise. If a technician is new to working with a specific customer, they may not be familiar with how things are set up. Each business runs in a unique way, and that includes how they document or map out their structured cabling, and the different hardware they use. Project managers spend a ton of time helping technicians through these issues to ensure that the work they are scheduled to do, gets done. With most projects, the project manager will even create guides from scratch to send to technicians before they head to the job site. IT project management is a very technical and involved career, and many project managers in the IT infrastructure space have experience as field technicians as well.
Any work completed needs to be documented, not only to show that it is done, but also for future reference to maintain or upgrade. This includes filling out forms of what was done (or what could not be done), photos of the work, accurate labeling, and signatures from the site manager. The project manager then packages this documentation up and provides it to the customer. Each customer and project have different documentation requirements, it is the project managers job to ensure that they receive what they need at the end of an install or upgrade.
Documentation can make or break the relationship between a provider and a customer. Going into a project with a new customer where their previous provider did not document a project well is very challenging. In this case you essentially need to start out by surveying each site to understand what has been done in the past before you can start a new project.
Project Management is the Key to Successful National IT Deployments
As you can see, project managers are an essential piece to a successful project. They handle all the scheduling for you, they help the field technicians through obstacles, and they set you up with documentation so that you can move forward with maintenance in the future. Having a dedicated project manager on your project allows you to focus on your priorities with a piece of mind that everything is running smoothly. We recommend asking a potential provider about their project management team and what they will be responsible for during your project. This will allow you to allocate your own resources as needed to work with the providers.
If you have any questions about our project management team and our process, reach out to us at ContactUs@Matrix-NDI.com or call 763.457.5500