Virginia Tech® home

Project Management Standard

Standard for information technology project management

What is this standard?

This standard describes how to manage information technology (IT) projects according to best practices promoted by nationally recognized project management organizations, such as, the Project Management Institute (PMI),, and Scrum Alliance appropriately tailored to the specific circumstances of the university.

Why do we have this standard?

This standard supports Virginia Tech’s Policy 7210 - IT Project Management and our Management Agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia that was adopted because of the Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act.

Who must use this standard?

Anyone at Virginia Tech initiating an information technology project.

What is a project?

The classic definition of a project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.

Temporary - meaning it has a defined beginning and end.

Unique - meaning it is not in support of an existing product or service (i.e., maintenance) and not routine and produces repetitive products, services, or results (i.e., operational).

Some examples of products, services, or results are:

  • Products: Development or integration of a software application
  • Services: Wireless network service
  • Results: Information technology security enhancements

What is an information technology project?

An information technology project uses computers, software, and telecommunications for storing, processing, and distribution of information.

You have an information technology project if, either:

  • The majority of the resources (personnel, software, hardware) used for the project are information technology related, or
  • The primary deliverable(s) of the project is information technology related

Who makes decisions about this IT project?

The person responsible for decisions about the project is referred to as the project decision authority. This is usually the person with budget authority to commit resources to the project, often a department head (as defined in Policy 6100 but also includes the administrative head of institutes, centers, and administrative departments). Where a project requires access to or integration with enterprise data or systems (Division of IT), the expectation is to incorporate the level of project management recommended by this standard. The Vice President for Information Technology/Chief Information Officer (VPIT/CIO) is the decision authority for consideration of justified exceptions.

For major, high risk and complex, IT projects, the decision authority is responsible for getting a higher authority (e.g., Provost, Vice President, Dean) to review and approve their decision on how to proceed with project management of the project.

Is this a major IT project?

If the total estimated cost of your project (including personnel costs) is more than $1 million dollars, it is considered a major IT project according to Virginia legislation and the VT management agreement, and is subject to more rigorous project management processes:

  • approvals from higher levels of authority, e.g., Provost, Vice President, Dean
  • independent verification and validation
  • quarterly project status reports to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Please contact the Division of Information Technology project management team to discuss a major IT project and refer to the major IT project process.

What type of IT project do I have?

Use the Project Scorecard to assess the risk and complexity of your project and determine the recommended level of project management.

What do I have to do?

  1. Using the project scorecard determine if this is a low, medium, or high risk and complexity project.
  2. The project decision authority in consultation with the project team decides which recommended project management processes are appropriate for their project.
  3. Major IT projects must follow the recommended level of project management indicated by the project scorecard and the major IT project process outlined in this standard

Are there exceptions to this standard?

Research projects and research initiatives are excepted from the processes of this standard. Also excepted, are projects whose primary purpose or deliverable is for instruction (i.e., teaching or education).

Maintenance activities undertaken in support of an existing product or service, and operations activities which are ongoing and produce repetitive products, services, or results are not defined as projects for the purposes of this standard, so long as the bulk of the effort involves continuation, with improvement, to the current product or service.

If you are initiating a small-scaled project that does not require additional resources outside your unit or department, then it is excepted from this standard. Small-scaled project management is defined as, “Projects that are characterized by factors such as short duration, low person hour, small team, size of the budget, and the balance between the time committed to delivering the project itself and the time committed to managing the project.”

Excepted or not, any project is free to use the processes promoted by this standard.

More detail?

For more detail about this standard refer to Overview and Best Practices.