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.
    • Classic Mistakes Enumerated by McConnel [link]
[E] Classic Mistakes Practice – 18 [video recording] or 22 [ video recording] September 2020
  • In-class discussion on the Case Study by McConnel
  • This is a version of the case study that I annotated. [pdf]
  • NOTE: The 22nd video recording should be largely better than the 18th one.
[L] Basics (part I) – 23 September 2020 [video recording]
  • Digital Project Management fundamentals [slides]
    • PMI fundamentals vs. Rapid Development
    • The stakeholders the PM has to interact with [drawing]
    • The four dimensions of a digital project and their relation to the classic mistakes
    • Project Selection and Success Factors
    • Initial documents: SOW and Project Charter
[E] Homework-1 Assignment – 25 [video recording] or 29 [video recording] September 2020 [slides]
  • 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 a member of the group must upload it in the homework-1 folder on beep. Please name the file Group-<ID>-HW1.pdf (e.g., if your group has ID 42, name the file Group-42-HW1.pdf).
  • NOTE: Alessio Bernardo will do the 29th lectures, please connect to his Webex if you do not go to the classroom.
[L] Basics (part II) – 30 September 2020 [video recording]
  • More Fundamentals in Project Management [slides]
    • PMI fundamentals
    • Projects and Organizations
    • Program Management
    • Procurement Management
[L] Project Planning (part I) – 7 October 2020 [video recording]
  • Phases in details [slides]
    • why
    • what
    • how
    • do it!
[L] Project Planning (part II) – 14 October 2020 [video recording]
[L] From Requirements to Work Breakdown Structures – 21 October 2020 [video recording]
  • On requirements [slides]
    • importance of requirement
    • characteristics & Issue
    • type
    • requirement gathering techniques
  • Work Breakdown Structure [slides up to slide 25]
    • Introduction to Planning, Estimating, Scheduling
    • Work Breakdown Structures: Types, Formats, Techniques and Guidelines
[E] Homework-2 Assignment: WBS – 23 [video recording] or 27 [video recording] October 2020
  • Pratical session on WBS [slides from slide 26]
    • WBS techniques
    • Guidelines
  • Submission
    • Use the tool you prefer between Notepad/Word/Excel
    • Keep using the same submission procedure of Homework Assignment 1, but this time use folder “Homework 2” and nam the file HMW2 Group <ID>
[L] Estimation and Scheduling – 28 October 2020 [video recording]
  • Estimation [slides]
    • Measuring size, complexity and effort
    • Estimation Methodology
    • Issues & Guidelines
  • Scheduling [slides] Fundamentals
    • Techniques: Network Diagrams & Bar Chart
    • Optimization Techniques
  • Preview of MID-TERM REVIEW [slides]
[E] Project Control and Earned Value Analysis Practice – 30 October [video recording] or 3 November 2020
[L] Change and Risk Management – 4 November 2020 [video recording]
  • Change Management [slides]
    • The Feature-Creep Phenomenon
    • Feature Set Control
    • Project Recovery
  • Risk Management [slides]
    • Risk Assessment: Risk Identification, Risk Analysis & Risk Prioritization
    • Risk Control: Risk Management Planning, Risk Resolution & Risk Monitoring
[E] Q/A session on MID-TERM REVIEW – 6 [video recording] or 10 [video recording] November 2020
MID-TERM REVIEW – 11 November 2020
  • Register to the exam using this form
  • The day of the exam at 14:30, enter in my Webex room with the video camera and the microphone on. Notably, they must stay on for the whole exam duration.
  • At 14:45, I will distribute the exam as a pdf.
  • Write the answers to the exam questions on plain paper referring to each question’s number
  • At 16:00, stop writing because the exam ends
  • By 16:05,
    • build a pdf of your work using Google Photo Scanner for Android or iOS or an equivalent App
    • name it <ID>_<surname>_<name>.pdf
    • upload the it on beep
  • Disconnect from Webex (if you disconnect before uploading the exam, I will consider to invalidate the exam)
[L] People Dimension and Project Quality Management – 18 November 2020 [video recording backup]
  • 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] Agile User Stories and Jira – 25 November 2020 [video recording] – Alessio Bernardo
  • [slides]
    • User Stories
    • INVEST criteria
    • Epics
    • Tasks
    • Tasks Hierarchies and Relations
    • Tournament exercise
  • Homework-3 assignment
    • The students will be working on Homework-3 and the lecturer will assist them and will answer their questions.
    • By the deadline (3.12.2020)
      • upload in beep a screenshot of the stories inserted in Jira
      • Keep using the same submission procedure of Homework Assignment 1, but this time use folder “Homework 3” and name the file HMW3 Group <ID>
[E] Homework-3 working session and Q/A – 27 November [video recording] and 1 December 2020 [video-recording] – Alessio Bernardo
  • The students will be working on Homework-3 in Jira and the lecturer will assist them and will answer their questions.
[L] Final phases and exam preview – 2 December 2020 [video-recording]- Emanuele Della Valle
  • Final phases [slides]
    • Migration [link]
    • Roll-Out [check-list], Training, Documentation, Shipping Details, and Installation
    • Maintenance
    • Post Project Reviews (Post-mortems)
    • Success tips
    • Capability Maturity Model (CMM)
  • Exam preview [slides]
[L] SCRUM and Jira – 9 December 2020 [video recording] – Alessio Bernardo
  • [slides part I and part II]
    • Overall SCRUM process
    • Estimation (Story Points)
    • Backlogs
    • Product Backlog and Sprints
    • Assigning resources to task
    • Scheduling
    • Timeline and Burndown Chart
    • Example in Jira
  • Homework-4 assignment
    • in Jira
    • deadline: 1 week before the exam session you want to take
[E] Homework-4 working session and Q/A on Exam – 18 [video recording] or 22 December 2020 [video-recording]- Alessio Bernardo
  • The students will be working on Homework-4 in Jira and the lecturer will assist them and will answer their questions.
  • In parallel, there will be the possibility to ask questions about the exam.

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 4 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.