4 Skills to Level Up Your Cybersecurity Project Management
Project Management

4 Skills to Level Up Your Cybersecurity Project Management

Apr 1, 2024

Cybersecurity initiatives rely on some of the same project management methodologies as other types of work, but there are some unique considerations that set information security projects apart. Due to the tendency of cybersecurity projects to involve multiple  departments and cross-functional teams, a cybersecurity project manager needs to be adept at managing tasks, minimizing data silos, and engaging with stakeholders.

Whether you’re a cybersecurity professional, or an IT project manager liaising with an external cybersecurity team, here’s what you should know about project management fundamentals and how they pertain to cybersecurity project management.

What Is Cybersecurity Project Management?

Cybersecurity project management: Woody and Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story talking to each other

Cybersecurity project management involves overseeing a project from beginning to end in a way that aligns with overall business goals and objectives. Just like with other types of project management, a cybersecurity project manager is responsible for keeping the team on track and ensuring the project is completed on time and under budget.

Some examples of cybersecurity projects include:

  • Identity access management (IAM): Identity access management is used to identify and authorize users accessing an organization’s IT system. 
  • Penetration testing: Penetration testing involves hiring “hackers” to simulate a cyber attack and identify vulnerabilities in a company’s network.
  • Network security audits: A network security audit involves an examination of the hardware and software an organization uses to protect its digital assets, including firewalls, encryption, and cloud security practices.

One challenge with cybersecurity projects is that they can be one step removed from other business processes. Security professionals may be hired for their expertise in highly technical roles rather than their skills in project management.

As a result, cybersecurity project teams may have less insight into overall business goals compared to other teams led by a project management professional.

Why Cybersecurity Project Management Matters

Cybersecurity project management: woman talking on the phone

Cybersecurity is a key component of risk management for any data-driven organization. But simply having a cybersecurity team or contracting out the work to professionals in the security industry may not be enough to achieve your business objectives. Here’s why taking a holistic approach to cybersecurity project management matters.

Identify Cybersecurity Threats

Massive data breaches at large organizations may get all of the attention, but according to Forbes, the most common cyber attacks include phishing and ransomware attacks at small and mid-size businesses (SMBs). Even small cybersecurity projects, like training courses to educate employees, can have an impact on your overall security.

Remove Data Silos

The highly specialized nature of cybersecurity initiatives means they often get siloed off from other projects. It’s only natural for your penetration testers to be separate from your information technology infrastructure library (ITIL) team. An effective project manager can bridge the gap between team members in different departments.

Avoid Cost Overruns

Cybersecurity projects often result in cost overruns due to a mismatch between security professionals’ needs and stakeholder expectations. Executive decision-makers may not fully grasp the technology, while cybersecurity professionals may not be fully informed about the business or regulatory environment. Cybersecurity project managers can take the whole picture into account when developing and implementing a project plan.

4 Key Project Management Skills for Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity project management: man using a computer

In addition to problem-solving and leadership skills, what other skills do cybersecurity project managers need to become a better manager? Here are four areas to focus on.

1. Getting Stakeholder Buy-in

First, project managers play a key role in communicating with stakeholders and getting buy-in for new cybersecurity initiatives across an organization. Project managers need to understand who’s calling the shots, as well as who will be impacted by any changes to cybersecurity practices or protocols.

Implementing new systems can have ripple effects throughout your organization, so it’s important to have full-buy in to avoid having to roll it back later.

2. Setting Clear Team Goals

Setting goals is important for any project, but it’s especially important for cybersecurity project managers to communicate how those goals align with overall company objectives. The end goal isn’t to identify the vulnerabilities in an app — it’s to enable the product development team to deliver a satisfactory app to customers or stakeholders.

When team members know how their work fits into the bigger picture, they can apply their efforts more effectively throughout the project life cycle.

3. Delegating Tasks

Cybersecurity projects are made up of many individual tasks, and it’s the PM’s job to delegate tasks and see that they get done. Using task management software ensures that everyone on the team knows which tasks they’re responsible for and allows for effective workload management and resource distribution.

An AI task manager like Anchor AI goes one step further by automatically identifying action items during meetings and adding a due date and task owner for you. Project management AI tools can save time and effort by serving as your note-taker, data analyst, and personal meeting assistant all in one.

4. Balancing the Project Management Triangle

Project managers need to be on the lookout for scope creep and other signs that the project management triangle is out of whack. When goals change due to internal or external pressure, the timeline, cost, and scope of your project can fall out of balance. 

The project management triangle is a handy way of ensuring that these three elements of your cybersecurity project are in alignment.

Best Practices for Cybersecurity Project Managers

Man saying, the computer forgot my password

Many security industry professionals, including security specialists, analysts, engineers, and architects, can benefit from project management skills, even if that isn’t technically part of your job description. Follow these best practices to become an effective PM:

Obtain the Necessary Certifications

Project management professionals (PMP) may have a project management certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) to demonstrate their proficiency with agile and other project management frameworks.

Cybersecurity PMs may be expected to have a computer science degree and several years of experience in the security industry, as well as professional credentials like a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification.

Choose the Right Technology

Choosing the right scheduling, budgeting, and project management collaboration tools can make all the difference when managing a project. Start by using a task tracker to organize your project’s steps and send out notifications of upcoming due dates.

Use traditional tools like Kanban boards and Gantt charts to visualize your project’s timeline and progress toward your goals. Or, use AI project management tools to delegate tasks, schedule meetings, write follow-up emails, and more.

Document the Process

Each cybersecurity project is just one part of the puzzle. Even after the project is over, future team members may need to know what you did and how you went about it. Be sure to leave behind thorough documentation of your work for future reference.

Consider having a retrospective or follow-up meeting with stakeholders to discuss what went well and what you could do better next time. Use an automated note-taking tool like Anchor AI to take notes and send out a meeting summary or minutes. 

Streamline Project Management With Anchor AI

Cybersecurity project management: man and his cat nodding their head

Cybersecurity project management draws from the same fundamentals as other types of project management. But cybersecurity PMs need to pay special attention to scope creep, cost overruns, and other leadership challenges. They may benefit from more advanced project management tools that incorporate AI and automation.

Anchor AI is a project management tool that offers note-taking, task-tracking, meeting analysis, and more. Max, your AI project manager, can generate meeting summaries, assign tasks, and even help with resource allocation and problem-solving. Simply ask Max, “What should we work on next?” and Max will take your goals into account and point you in the right direction. Sign up for Anchor AI to try it out for yourself!

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