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I am currently working on an IT project, and I have no prior experience in project management.

I would like to ask what is the process to get from a vague IT idea to a concrete project, and a concrete IT architecture, work packages definition and milestones? What are the already existing methods for that?

  • Maybe if you share something about the project you'd get better answers. – Stanislav Bashkyrtsev Jun 5 at 6:29
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The first step is generally validating the idea - fleshing it out from "vague idea" to something that starts to identify the benefits that you expect to get from the project. In such a step, this is no different from any project - it isn't unique to IT projects. Once you have an idea of the benefits, you can start to think about the project methods, structures, resources, and so on, which will also help you to think about the team. As with any project, I would want to get a strong sponsor or executive to take ownership of the project and drive it forward at a senior level, gaining support from other senior managers, ensuring that it gets proper buy-in.

In terms of documenting the project, that will depend - at least in part - on the approach you plan to take to delivery. Agile methods are different from traditional waterfall methods, but are no less rigorous, in my opinion.

Try Googling "Project Initiation" to get some ideas of how to handle the process in different types of project environment.

Good luck!

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The "vague IT idea" is what you need to focus on. The project--how you set it up, the development method you use, who you hire for it--is irrelevant and thinking about it now is premature. Look at this way: you wake up one morning and decide it's time to modernize your kitchen. That's all you have at the moment is that you want it to change. Would you be considering whom you would hire to demo and rebuild at this stage?

Your very first step is to remove the vagueness from the product, and that means you need to define the end-state of that product: what it looks like, what it feels like, what it is supposed to do, who uses it, etc. Once the end-state of that product is defined, then you can break that down (WBS) and begin planning the rest of how to get there, which is probably another question and set of answers.

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  • Hi David. For creative and knowledge work, the team brain is critical to success. Developing some kind of vision is fine but eliminating vagueness shouldn't invariably be the first step. The "lean" way is to turn uncertainty to the project's advantage: stay flexible and open-minded, make decisions as late as it is prudent to do. Uncertainty fosters innovation and if you make decisions too early then you may waste some opportunities. – nvogel Jun 5 at 15:58
  • It's an interesting philosophy but I have never seen such a thing work at my work nor could I imagine it with simple projects around the house. I need to know exactly what it is I want, how much it'll cost, how much time it'll take. That's not to say I wouldn't be open to changes, even frequent ones, but an initial baseline is necessary for me and clients with whom I work. – David Espina Jun 5 at 18:12
  • It's true that the average technology project is very different to the average domestic building project. In construction you come up with a solution and then hire a team to build it; in technology it's more common to hire a team and then give them the support they need to solve the problem. – nvogel Jun 5 at 18:48
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For any technology project the most important first step is to get the right expertise together as a team and then let the team (which will grow over time) develop their plans and ideas. Team before plan, not plan before team.

Scrum is the most popular framework for software development projects and is also used for many other kinds of work. Ultimately the team will want to choose a way of working that they are comfortable with. What works for them as a team is going to be influenced by their previous experience and the organisation's culture.

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