Digital Project Management 2020-21

Course Syllabus

The course provides an overview of the roles, responsibilities, and management methods of the digital project manager. The course assumes no prior knowledge in management techniques and is intended to teach students how to develop approaches and styles of management for digital projects. The course assumes a basic understanding of software analysis, design and development techniques.

  1. To provide students with a clear understanding of the unique risks, issues, and critical success factors associated with digital projects
  2. To introduce students to the role and function of project management
  3. To explain the stages and process of the project life cycle
  4. To understand the various techniques for planning and managing a digital project
  5. To examine basic methodologies for software design, development, testing, implementation and deployment
  6. To examine various techniques for managing a team working on digital projects
  7. To understand the need and techniques for managing users and user expectations
  8. To learn project planning and tracking techniques
  9. To understand SCRUM as a modern agile approach to Digital Project Management
  10. To provide students with hints on how to handle the final stages of a project



Hereafter, you find a first draft of the calendar of the course. According to the most recent information about COVID-19 regulation for PoliMI’s courses, lectures (marked with [L]) will take place online, while practical sessions (marked with [E]) will be offered in class in two identical sessions. Students, whose ID (codice persona) is odd, must come to the Tuesday practical classes, while students, whose ID is even, must come to the Friday practical classes.

[L] From Fundamentals to Classic Mistakes – 16 September 2020 [video recording]
  • Administrative items [slides]
  • To tame Digital Transformation you need to master Digital Project Management [slides]
  • Classic Mistakes [slides]
    • A Case Study by McConnel (on Internet Archive) to work on [pdf].
    • Can you identify errors? Try to name them. The mistakes can relate to people, process, product and technology.
    • This is a version of the case study that I annotated.
    • Classic Mistakes Enumerated by McConnel [link]
[E] Classic Mistakes Practice – 18 or 22 September 2020
  • Workgroup activity on the Case Study by McConnel
[L] Basics (part I) – 23 September 2020
  • Digital Project Management fundamentals [slides]
    • PMI fundamentals vs. Rapid Development
    • The four dimensions of a digital project and their relation to the classic mistakes
    • Initial documents: SOW and Project Charter
[E]Homework-1 Assignment – 25 or 29 September 2020
  • In order to communicate the groups, please use this form
  • The teaching assistant will send you an email with your group ID
  • Use the template [doc]
  • To deliver this assignment reply to the email the teaching assistant sent you
[L] Basics (part II) – 30 September 2020
  • More Fundamentals in Project Management [slides]
    • PMI fundamentals
    • Projects and Organizations
    • Program Management
    • Procurement Management
[L] Project Selection and Planning – 7 October 2020
  • Project Selection and Success Factors [slides]
  • Planning Phase (part I) [slides]
    • phases in details
[L] Requirements – 14 October 2020
  • Planning Phase (part II) [slides]
  • On requirements [slides]
    • importance of requirements
    • characteristics & Issues
    • types
    • requirement gathering techniques
[L] Work Breakdown Structures and Estimation – 21 October 2020
  • Work Breakdown Structure [slides]
    • Introduction to Planning, Estimating, Scheduling
    • Work Breakdown Structures: Types, Formats, Techniques and Guidelines
  • Estimation [slides] Measuring size, complexity and effort
    • Estimation Methodologie
    • Issues & Guidelines
[E] Homework-2 Assignment – 23 or 27 October 2020
  • Pratical session on WBS
  • Use this template for Homework-2 [doc]
[L] Scheduling and Project Control – 28 October 2020
  • Scheduling [slides] Fundamentals
    • Techniques: Network Diagrams & Bar Chart
    • Optimization Techniques
  • Project Control [slides]Progress Monitoring
    • Status Reporting
    • Earned Value Analysi
    • to learn more [link]
  • Preview of MID-TERM REVIEW [slides]
[E] Earned Value Analysis Practice – 30 October or 3 November 2020
[L] Change and Risk Management – 4 November 2020
  • Change Management [slides]
    • The Feature-Creep Phenomenon
    • Feature Set Control
    • Project Recovery
  • Risk Management [slides]
    • Risk Assessment: Risk Identification, Risk Analysis & Risk Prioritizatio
    • Risk Control: Risk Management Planning, Risk Resolution & Risk Monitoring
[E] Q/A session on MID-TERM REVIEW – 3 or 6 November 2020
MID-TERM REVIEW – 11 November 2020
  • Please register to the exam filling up this Doodle
  • The results are now avaiable
[L] People Dimension and Project Quality Management – 18 November 2020
  • People Dimension [slides]
    • Project Roles
    • Staffing profile
    • Hiring
    • Team models and successful projects
    • Mythical Man-Month
    • Optimal team size
    • Tools: RAM and Skill Matrix
  • Project Quality Management [slides]
    • Software Quality Assurance
    • Integration
    • Test planning
    • Types of testing
    • Test metrics
    • Test Environments
[L] SCRUM – 25 November 2020
  • using SCRUM to teach SCRUM
    • requirements written in class [gdoc]
    • overall process [blackboard][diagram]
    • user stories: INVEST criteria, story points and business value
    • roles: Scrum Team, Product Owner, and Scrum Master
    • Artifacts: product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, and Release Backlog
    • tools: Burndown Chart and Task Board
    • Meetings: sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review and sprint retrospective
  • Reference: P. Deemer, G. Benefield, C. Larman, B. Vodde (2009). “The Scrum Primer” (free for download).
  • Homework-3 assignment
    • Instructions
[E] Homework-3 working session and Q/A – 27 November and 1 December 2020
  • The students will be working on Homework-3 and the lecturers will assit them and will answer thier questions.
[L]Jira (part I) – 2 December 2020
  • [slides]
    • Epics and User Stories
    • Tasks
    • Tasks Hierarchies and Relations
  • [slides]
    • Estimation (Story Points)
    • Backlogs
    • Product Backlog and Sprints
[E] Homework-4 assignment and Q/A – 4 or 11 December 2020
  • Instructions
[L] Jira (part II) – 9 December 2020
  • [slide]
    • Assigning resources to tasks
    • Scheduling
    • Timeline and Burndown Chart
[E] Homework-4 Q/A session – 18 or 22 December 2020
  • The students will be working on Homework-4 and the lecturers will assit them and will answer thier questions.
[L] Final phases – 23 December 2020
  • Final phases [slides]
    • Migration
    • Roll-Out [check-list], Training, Documentation, Shipping Details, and Installation
    • Maintenance
    • Post Project Reviews (Post-mortems)
    • Success tips
    • Capability Maturity Model (CMM)
  • Preview of FINAL REVIEW

Homework Assignments

  • Apply, in a simplified context, some of the points presented in class
  • Develop project related capabilities
  • Develop teamwork ability
  • Homework 1 : Project Charter [template]
  • Homework 2: WBS at Managerial Level [instructions in the slides]
  • Homework 3: SCRUM user stories [instructions]
  • Homework 4: use Jira [instructions]
  • Work in team (up to 3 people)
  • Working alone is possible, but you should believe in the italian byword “Chi fa da se, fa per tre”; literally, “who works alone works for three”, more broadly, “If you want something done, do it yourself”
  • Homework 1: 7 points
  • Homework 2: 5 points
  • Homework 3: 8 points
  • Homework 4: 10 points
  • NOTE: up to 3 extra points will be awarded to exceptional homeworks
Due day
  • If you follow the classes
    • Homework 1 – 6.10.2020
    • Homework 2 – 2.11.2020
    • Homework 3 – 3.12.2020
    • Homework 4 – 1 week before the chosen exam session
  • If you do not follow the classes
    • Homework 1, 2, 3 and 4 – 1 week before the chosen exam session

If you have got a question about the homework assignements, for check this document.


The exam consist in a practical part (30% of the grade) and a theoretical part (70% of the grade).

  • The theoretical part will be evaluated with a written and (optionally) an oral test. The written test is composed of questions to be answered in free text, regarding any of the course subjects, and exercises, regarding the more technical content. The oral test consists of a discussion about the written test and the practical part of the exam. It can include also questions on any subject of the course.
  • The practical part consists in simulating the activities of a digital project manager. This activities will be partially conducted in class during the course and partially at home (as homework). The student will.doc those activities in written reports. The evaluation is based on the content of those reports and (optionally) on an oral discussion.


Recommended texts (not mandatory).

These provide two very different viewpoints: In-the-trenches vs. PMI textbook perspective

More reading


This course is largely based on Prof. John Musser class notes on “Principles of Software Project Management”. Original information is available at Reuse and republish permission was granted.